Winhall VT, the New York Times & a world of change

I heard from many of our blog subscribers about last week's NYT article on my tiny Vermont town of Winhall. [The Virus Sent Droves to a Small Town. Suddenly, It’s Not So Small. ]

- A very human and objectively correct article

- Filled with real facts about the boom in real estate 

- Yes, Scott, a very good friend, is  "One Cranky Dude"

- Yes, lots of change...all very healthy change for VT. 

Scott Bushee, a solid 6th generation Vermonter, is the supervisor of Winhall’s transfer station (do not use the phrase "town dump" around Scott), spent the summer training all of the newcomers in recycling. “The minute you come through that gate, you’re in Scott’s country,” he said. “I’m the dictator here.”  Scott is also the Town Moderator. and he runs the annual town meetings with the same level of practical, no-nonsense, direct-talk that he does everywhere...including his FB posts. We could have used him the other night as the moderator of the most embarrassing management debacle ever.  

Scott's a 6th generation Vermonter, just like me, and I could hear his Vermont accent when I read in The Times...“Now you’ve got to deal with Vermonters,” he said. “They will tell you straight up. I try to do it as politely as I can, but if you push the envelope, things are going to go sideways because right now the closest word I can tell you is it's sheer pandemonium.”

I'm in Winhall this morning, where it's a balmy 50 out by the barn, and what I've seen during the summa' because of the emigration out of NY and CT is that...

  • there are zero houses for sale other than the worst teardowns and even those have bids
  • Mike, my broker for my "extra five acres" of land up on the ridge is getting lots of calls
  • the post office ran out of available P.O. boxes in mid-June.
  • electricians and plumbers are booked until Christmas.
  • a simple pane of glass for the window broken by my lawn guys took 8 weeks to replace
  • complaints about bears have quadrupled.  

All of which represents change, and from my perspective, very healthy change in a town and in a state that has been eroding for years.  Yes, Vermont is very picturesque, and yes, that smell of fresh cut hay in early July and the perfect photo of fall leaves taken out by the dairy farm is all very wonderful, but the harsh reality of the real Vermont is that it's a tough place to live, and an even tougher place to find good jobs.

  • Drive 10 miles out of the ski towns, and you're in rural America with a declining population
  • Other than retail, and those jobs are now disappearing, real, good-wage jobs are non-existent
  • Drug addiction has been declared an epidemic by two governors with no sign of abatement
  • Energy costs are the highest in the US save for Hawaii 
  • Don't get me started on senators Leahy & Sanders, neither of whom do much for VT.

Bottom line of any small town and of any small business, new people bring new ideas and vitality.  New ideas create new businesses and new jobs.  New jobs bring money and the flywheel keeps turning.  

With new families moving into the town doubling the size of the local school population (which had been declining for a decade plus) and bringing new ideas, new energy and new dollars into a fragile economy, this change in Winhall is very positive creating a new sense of vitality and experimentation that comes only from new young families.  

“It’s hard to know who is living in what house,” said Ms. Elanor Grant, 50, who is also Winhall’s treasurer, registrar of deeds, tax collector and presiding officer of elections. 

She is also the ex-wife of Mr. Bushee. It is an amicable divorce; recently, when a wasp became lodged in his ear canal, she rushed over to his house with tweezers.

...only in Vermont!

 


Embrace the Opportunity 

Absolutely, the chaos created as a result of Covid has been and continues to be a disaster.  We know what to do to protect ourselves, our families and our employees, and we're also fact-based enough to know that this problem will continue deep into 2021. The harsh reality of the virus was brought to the forefront in the early hours of this morning with the announcement of the president and first lady testing positive.  

We're facing a long winter ahead, and from the perspective of our own businesses, we now need to focus on what we can control and bring our positive energy, our expertise and our innovation to the forefront of what we are doing every day for the balance of this new quarter.

Winhall is never "going back" and neither will the professions of Sales & Marketing 

  • Many of the age-old tactics of Sales & Marketing have been out of touch with customers and prospects for years.  In B2B tech sales we've known for years that 70ish% of prospective buyers have reported that their first meeting (both phone calls and F2F meeting) with a salesperson was a waste of time, and that they would never take another call or meeting.  And yet salespeople have continued to relentlessly batter down the doors with more and more blind emails and cold calls that make a used-car salesperson look good by comparison.  
  • Sales & Marketing success today is all about demonstrating customer value.  Unless our sales and marketing messaging and outreach tools can demonstrate fundamental financial value to both prospects and customers, we're just an unnecessary interruption in an environment where no one anymore has any extra time or desire to listen to yet another empty statement which is focused on the seller's table and not the buyer's.
  • Live trade shows are gone forever.  We've been trying to kill this antiquated time-sink of energy and money for decades, and the stats have told us for all of those decades that the cost per lead was 10X the cost of any other form of marketing, but we've continued to play the trade show game.  Maybe it was because we were afraid what our competitors would say when we didn't show up, or that we often used that same time for training our salespeople since they all felt that they needed to be in the booth.  Very simply, no one is going back to live trade shows ever!  Virtual trade shows and conferences, sure, but physical meetings?  Who would take that life and death risk?  Remember that the infections from the Biogen conference in Massachusetts in February started from just one person and has now been traced to over 20,000 direct infections.

Like Scott Bushee and Eleanor Grant and the 769 residents of Winhall, embrace the change, figure out the new opportunities that this time provides and experiment with new marketing and sales tactics during the next 60 days as you now turn your attention to closing Q4 and the year ahead of plan...still plenty of time to do that! 

I'm headed out to the general store for a breakfast sandwich before my 9:00 AM sales meeting this morning !  


 

Have a great day selling today as we push forward into embracing the changes of this fall and Q4

CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD

If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call. 

I'm a pretty good listener.  Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tags: sales and marketing best practices, sales management effectiveness, business planning, Sales Leadership in the Revolution, entrepreneurship, how to write a sales plan, sales effectivness

No more Joey BagaDonuts

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Wed, May 27, 2020

When I first began as a rookie salesperson, I had just been promoted to be president of the medtech company where I had moved up through the ranks from manufacturing and engineering and then to the corner office.  I had never sold anything and had zero understanding of what marketing did other than knowing they spent a ton of money on trade shows, conferences and producing whitepapers.  The second week into the job, our number two sales guy, Alan, showed up in my office and suggested that we take a sales trip together to his largest hospital in NYC.  A great guy...strong numbers, very affable, bright-but in a folksy kind of way- and a very hard worker.   I still remember that first call:

 

#1 lesson from Alan was to dress down from the plaid suit.  😎
#2 was to go in the hospital on the 2nd shift since it was less hectic and quieter. 
#3 was to bring a box of donuts to the nurses since they knew what was really going on.
#4 was to understand that knowledge was power, and the currency was just being human.

 

Today, we would term that process a "Discovery Call", and we would put it into the second step in our sales process funnel and allocate specific tools and checklists to the Discovery call wrapping all of that up in Hubspot CRM technology that would automatically remind us in three days after the call with follow up tasks and templates to complete.  Yes, it's mechanical, efficient, and highly disciplined, and, yes, it's not very human by itself, but it works.  The secret to successful sales is to add personality and trust to any sales process that's full of steps and metrics. 

 

Which is better-sales process or the human touch?

Alan was just a superb salesguy!  Always #1 or #2 in a team of 50 plus salespeople.  He had a superb memory and a built-in innate ability to drive sales "The Alan Way", and as a result he had his own process down to a science.  That's the good news. 

The unsettling news was that no one else could sell "The Alan Way" since his process came down to style on the attributes side of things and his own selling skills on the process side of the equation.  Plus, although he had a huge geographic territory, he only focused his time in the density of two very concentrated cities and then further pinpointed those to the specific hospitals where he knew exactly what was going to happen in in terms of replacement products given his closeness to the nurses using donuts as his currency   The bottom line in his "Streets-not-States" strategy was that by focusing on only 5% of the available hospitals in his entire geography, he always got to whatever the bonus number was above 100% of his quota. 

The majority of us are not Alan, nor do we have his discipline, so people like me need to "resort" to our "Process & Tools & Technology & People" solution to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks...and because I just don't the whole Joey BagaDonuts approach. 

The Joeys who are still in the sales game also do not have the skills or the style that Alan had...all they have are the donuts.  As a result, they rely on stupid and affrontive emails like this one below that I just received yesterday:  
Hello Mr. Derby,   I hope you're having a great Tuesday.
My name is xxx xxx, and I'm the CEO at xxx.  We are a new member of xxx. While browsing the member directory I came across your profile highlighting your company and wanted to make a brief introduction about our solutions.  We are a cost reduction and profit improvement company. We have had significant success working with venture capital, investment banking firms, private equity groups, and consulting firms seeking to create equity value within their portfolios or for their clients.  Attached are a few case studies of those successes. After doing some research, I'm interested in finding out more about your company. I look forward to hearing from you.

That's definitely a Joey BagaDonuts email, but unfortunately it came without the donuts! 

Just another example of a worthless marketing and a sales approach so bad, that I just had to blog about it this morning.  Messaging like this is especially affrontive now in this time of chaos when it's even more critical for all of us to focus on what it takes to provide true customer value while never using the words, "trust me on this!"

Right now, all of us are trying to figure out what the new rules for both Sales and for Marketing will be for whatever the new normal will be in 2021. 

  • Today, there is no new normal, just 60-day sales tactics focused on survival. 
  • First, we need to hit this month's number on Friday.
  • Second, we need to get to July 4th and then take a long weekend-breather.
  • Third, only then can we spend time figuring out what it takes to get to Labor Day. 
  • Around that time, we should then know enough to begin to write the new rules for 2021. 

Have a great day selling today, tomorrow and Friday!

TUFTS FALL SEMESTER MARKETING PROJECTS

At Tufts where I'm a professor teaching Marketing in the Entrepreneurship Center, I am now actively looking for marketing projects for the fall semester. Yes, we will be teaching in the fall with a blended mix of video and visual content, distance learning and F2F-socially-distanced mechanics.  All safe-all the time!

The manner in which I teach is based on my practice of "Content in Context", where I and my guest lecturers provide the clinical teaching content and the real-life experience which is then taught within the structure of six teams of juniors and seniors delivering fully developed marketing plans to their host companies at the end of the semester.  The companies range from established startups with revenue to mid-size corporations.  The projects are often full marketing plans for the company or a marketing plan for the launch of a new product or service.

The results over the years have been just excellent both for the students and for their companies, and, for a couple of reasons, this semester's results were the best ever...just over the top.  Right now, I'm taking applications for next fall's course, so if you're interested, just connect with me by email at jack@derbymanagement.com, and I will set up a quick call to review the logistics with you and send you an outline of the program.  All of the applications need to be in no later than June 19th.  The syllabus and the projects go out to the students on July 5th.    

 

If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board management coaching or for Sales or Marketing stuff, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener.  Obviously, no cost, just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

Be safe, be positive and enjoy today and have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

 

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Tags: sales productivity, Sales Optimization, Sales Best Practices, Sales Management Best Practices, sales and marketing best practices, sales management coach, sales effectiveness, Sales quota, best sales practices;, Sales Leadership in the Revolution, 2020 sales plans

Gold-Silver-Bronze...How's Your Sales Team Doing for Medals?

Nothing is more exciting for me than watching the Olympics, and the U.S. Women's Hockey Team taking the gold last night in a decisive win over Canada was one of the huge highlights of this very exciting winter's games !  

  • Superb conditioning on the part of every player !
  • Mental toughness all around !
  • Highly skilled and practiced plays !
  • Just superb athletes in everyone on the team !

I'm a long time snowboarder and have been riding for almost 25 years with countless years attending the U.S. Open at Stratton watching Olympic champs Shaun White and Lindsey Jacobellis walk away with gold medals there and at the Olympics.  Last week's snowboarding medals by Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson, Red Gerard, and the ageless Shaun White just proved once again that.....

To win in any sport, and in any sales activity, medal performance always, always comes down to the basics of...

1.  Consistent training...and more training

2.  Certification that the training was done correctly

3.  Mental conditioning and then...even more training

 

Sounds pretty basic, and it is. 

Actually, there should be no difference in how we assess our professional athletes on our own sales teams when comparing our players to the athletes at the Olympics or in any professional sport.  Once we start to think differently, that's the point at which we take ourselves out of the race to get to the Olympics and become medal winners.  "Pretty Good" or "Good Enough" B players are just that... "not good enough" if you're planning to consistently be on the podium at the end of any quarter.

Homework to do

This weekend, come up with a numeric rating system against your top three sales metrics.  You probably have already done weighting factors of revenue, gross margin, monthly or annual subscription values, and bookings.  Now rank all of your salespeople in the categories of Gold, Silver and Bronze.  There will definitely  be a couple of players who, given the fact that they are new to the company, are still on the development team, but they can also be ranked once they're past the three month curve. 
Do this ranking separately for every gradation of salespeople that you have whether they are hunters, account managers, farmers or BDRs.  
So far, easy homework to do, and don't overthink this...just Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Now the Question

The question now is for you to figure out where you should be spending your own time as a Player-Coach?  Since all time is finite, and, most probably you're already spending 60-75 hours a week both managing and selling, the question that needs to be asked and definitevely answered in numbers of hours/week is where should you be spending your coaching time with your athletes.

1.  Do you spend the majority of your time with your Gold players (the top 20%) and train and motivate them to increase their current performance another 15%?

2.  Do you limit your time with your Gold players and pump that time into increased training, more practices and one-on-one motivational time with your Silver medalists (the average and above average 60%)?

3. Just what are you planning to do with your bottom 20%...and when are you going to take specific action?  It's also time to make those decisions.  

I know what I always do, and I'll be happy to share that in next week's blog, or you can just email me in the meantime, and we can schedule a call. 

But, much more importantly, I would really like you to express in the comments section how you carve up your work time and where would you allocate your coaching time from now through June...clearly the most important sales period of the year?  It would be very important, given your experience, if you were to share where and how you allocate your time with the rest of our readers.    Just a simple note in "comments" would be important for all of us since peer learning in the world of Sales is always the most impactful.

  • Whatever training and planning against the tactical playbook that you write now and then actually occurs between March and June will determine the course and speed for the balance of your quota year. 
  • This period of four months is simply a lot of actual time-about 80 work days, and if that time is used wisely and is formally balanced between both playing the game and training to play the game, you will find that there is a very impactful ROI on that investment in time that will occur over the period of the summer when you will need it most. 

Have a great day selling today, and raise a glass tonight the Women's Hockey Team...and all of the other superb medal winners...all sports, all countries! 

   

Coach & Advisor to Derby Management
Director, Entrepreneurial Studies, Tufts University
Cummings Professor of Entrepreneurship

 

 


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Tags: Sales Leadership in the Revolution, sales leadership, entrepreneurship, Making Tough Choices, jack derby professor at Tufts, sales management productivity, sales effectivness, sales plans for 2018

Are You an Effective Leader?  How Do You Measure Up to These 3 Ideas?

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Feb 19, 2016

 So, what does it mean to be a leader?  

Countless books and blogs consume oceans of silicon in attempting to define sales leadership, giving point-by-point tactics and hundreds of how-to's, and yet the issue of leadership often comes down to, "I know it when I see it".  

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Tags: sales productivity, sales, sales management, sales management coach, Sales Leadership in the Revolution

Revolutions...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Thu, Jul 16, 2015

July 4, 1776.

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Tags: Sales Leadership in the Revolution