It's been a very exciting time during the last four months as our 2022 planning ramps with our customers. What I thought might be helpful is to share with you some of the primary themes we are experiencing in our role as business planning consultants as management gears up for 2022. The following bullets are not prioritized, plus they come from a wide cross-section of markets covering healthcare, tech, food, industrial commodities, financial services and not-for-profits.
This past Wednesday, I started to see a few hundred downloads of my ebook on "Writing the Winning Business Plan", and then a few hundred more on Thursday, and already early this AM, lots of detailed questions from readers. Then I realized that it's that time of year that new students in the MITx course on business planning were gearing up, and this is a core read. The book is also used in my own teaching every fall at MIT in the ME course taught by Dr. Chun, who asked me 21 years ago if I could assist in teaching a few business principles to his undergrad and grad students. That exciting experience, which continues every fall at MIT, also led me to the opportunity to teach at Tufts 16 years ago.
As you know, I love Vermont and spend about 30% of my time working from there with more time on the weekends doing what every Vermonter does: shovel snow, rake leaves, tend my woodlot and plant gardens. Plus, every time I'm there, including this weekend, I always take some time out to admire the unique beauty of Vermont by walking down to the river or just looking across to the now-turning leaves on the other side of the pond just up the road a piece.
Six generations of my family before me were born and lived in this same valley, and although I call myself "a Vermonter", I always leave out the fact that I was born and lived my early years in a tough neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Maybe I'm "a-kind-of Vermonter" since I've lived in this same valley for 50 years, but I do know my place in that I am not "a true Vermonter". Those are Vermont Rules!
Summa's over, kids are back in school, vacation days are behind us until the end of the year, and we're back at it moving at 100mph, working hard, fingers in the crankcase oil, making sure the machine works perfectly between now and December. Different from Red above, for me personally, September through December is always the most exciting part of any year, and especially this year:
Tags: sales coaching, marketing effectiveness, sales management boot camps, improving sales productivity, Tufts ELS program, entrepreneurship, how to write a sales plan, marketing planning, writing business plans, freedom
Just before we jump into the deep end of the pool next Tuesday, it might be worthwhile to think about approaching this year's planning season by looking out over two horizons and dividing your business plan into both the first and second halves of 2022.
About 20 years ago, I found myself having breakfast meeting after breakfast meeting with both entrepreneurs and managers of established business walking through my initial review of their business plans especially at the beginning of the year. For me, it was lead gen for follow-on consulting work, but actually expensive lead gen since it took a ton of time and way too many fattening $30 Marriott buffets. There had to be a better way, so I began the first edition of a what was then a 30-page free ebook titled... Writing the Winning Business Plan"
January is the most critical time of the year for the entire management team to get their fingers deep into the crankcase oil of the entire engine of the business in order to achieve...
Tags: sales management effectiveness, sales enablement, business coaching, how to close sales, business planning meetings, how to write a sales plan, writing business plans, forgetsalesstrategyfocusontactics
We've all heard this phrase- "focus only on what you can control"- numerous times now over the last 10 chaotic weeks. This Monday morning I'm merely suggesting that we give it a solid 60 minutes of detailed thinking during this week bringing the clouds of buzz in that phrase down to the streets of reality with a small number of carefully planned activities that we can totally control.
3 critical baselines we can totally control:
- Our Personal Health:
Most importantly, focus on your personal health and the health of your families! That's always Job #1 and that by itself will take us through this chaos! Once our own health and that of our family is solid and has been locked down, then we can figure out everything else.
Since by now everyone understands the basics of what it takes to remain healthy, I'm recommending ramping up those basics 2X over the next four months. Keeping ourselves healthy during the heat of this summer will be very difficult to say the least. For a solid example of what it means to ramp up the basics, take a look at leading healthcare and certified nursing advocate, Jenn Loughty's hand washing site!
Our Business Health:
Ramping up the basics of our business health was outlined perfectly last week by my good friend, noted author and acclaimed speaker, Jamie Turner in his 60SecondMarketer blog on
"7 Strategies to help your business get through the crisis." Definitely a worthwhile read!
This is stuff we already kinda' know, but now's the time to ramp it up 2X ...and squash the curve!
- Our Sales & Marketing Processes:
We can totally control the necessary pivots to our Sales and Marketing processes and the tools that we're using right now in Q2. We obviously can't "control" our actual sales results...couldn't before and certainly can't now..., but we can totally control what "Activities" we're planning and executing!
For years I've been a student of strategy and business planning, and this simple graphic has always been a solid guide to center me when I'm working with our clients. In today's world of planning what we will be doing in marketing and sales, this is not a time when we should be focused on either vision or strategies. This is a time to be laser focused on the next 90 days with everything riveted on the tactical execution of activities.
If there is a strategy, it is to survive, and survival is about executing battlefront activities!
Does it make sense?
This is a very simple question to ask ourselves in our week-by-week and month-by-month battle planning of activities between now and the 4th of July since at the latest you should not be planning out further than that.
Get down to the street level and go through an analytical thought process of sense-making by yourself and ideally with your sales & marketing team.
Get your head out of the clouds of strategic planning and ask yourself "Does it make sense?" as you focus on the activities necessary to sell to customers in mini-territories of streets and not states and you launch Inbound-Only Marketing campaigns to one industry and not five.
- Our Sales Forecasting:
We've now been living in this increasing chaos of the unknown for about eight weeks, and I continuously hear questions like I heard on a webinar I was on last Monday week with the amazing Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
- The question was asked by a head of sales: "How do I forecast in these times?"
- Me: "Plan out only 4 weeks!". (2 weeks ago, it was 2 weeks.)
- He: "My boss wants to see a forecast out to December"
- Me: "Just say no. Plan out 4 weeks listing 5 assumptions. In 2 weeks, do 4 more.
- Me: "Focus 95% of your time on your current customers!
- Me: "Focus 100% on your value propositions & not on your products"
Sales Management Boot Camp: May 12th & 13th
"Successfully Managing Sales in Chaotic Times"
If you want to understand what it takes to successfully manage, sell, train, ramp up and forecast in these chaotic times, work with us online in a highly engaged, hands-on Sales Management Boot Camp!
- Two three & a half hour team sessions on the mornings of May 12th and 13th
- One-on-one Coaching Sessions on May 14th
- We actively engage everyone in our unique strategy of "Process-Tools-Technology & People".
- We dive deep into real-life tactics that you can start using immediately the next week.
- We focus on developing street-level playbooks of Activity Plans.
Now, we're bringing that expertise online with the same level of deep practicality and active engagement that's resulted in hundreds of notes of thanks from managers and presidents of both large corporations and mid-market companies covering a wide range of markets.The primary coaches will be George Simmons and me, with guest speakers featuring Colleen Honan, CSO of Brainshark and James Stone, Director of Mid-Market Sales at Hubspot. Two leading mid-market companies focused on sales and marketing productivity with two highly successful sales execs who have figured out how to adapt and sell in this period of unknowns.
Click here for more details and then just connect directly with me for any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will set up a call with you right away and get you registered!
If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board, just connect at any time. Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.
Obviously, no cost-just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.
Have a safe and positive week !
Professor, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center
-The Science of Sales
Typically, at this point in the selling season, I'd be writing this morning about the end of Q1, telling everyone to crunch it for this final week ahead, and begin prepping for the upcoming most important quarter in any selling year, But, not today!
Many of us are currently crunching through data, spreadsheets, analytics and forecasts trying to figure out what our operating plans will be for 2020. Whether it's the almighty CFO continuously prodding us for this information as she assembles the company's financial plan or our sales manager taking even more time out of our already super-packed prospecting week to juggle scenarios, the pressure's on to figure out plans for 2020. Hard enough as a salesperson, wicked hard as a manager and darn near impossible as the boss, but, who cares? It is what it is, and what it is is about business planning and forecasting at this time of year in the seasonal cycle of business.
The weak salespeople and managers will whine, complain and not dive in and do the real hard work of assessing the last 10 months of data and will simply guess. The pros will sift through the analytics, consult with their peers, sit with marketing and then work directly with the quants in Finance to make sure that what their forecasting works for the department and the company. Nothing exists in a vacuum!