Over the long weekend of the 4th, I listened to two threads of stories...
- Most importantly the ugly...but predictable...story was and has been retold all week about the disastrous rise in Covid cases in the states where governors pretended that they were smarter than the science. Unfortunately, I understand what occurred given politics, the huge unemployment and the unrelenting pressures from businesses to reopen. None of this is acceptable to me and to most people, but, politics aside, it is agonizingly understandable...and now there will be a wicked price to pay in hospitalizations, in deaths and in the economy in those states where governors failed to make the tough decisions.
- The other story last week was that the Q2 business results were "not as bad as expected" boldened once again by a rising stock market. The stock market I understand given that "money costs nothing", the release of "not-as-bad-as expected" job numbers, and the reality that with the upcoming elections, there will be another huge stimulus package. My concern is that the Q2 bounce results have little to do with the grim realities of Q3, and what we now predict will be a very difficult end of the year.
The bottom line here is that depending on your point of view, depending on whether you have a job or not, depending on the depth of the impact on your own business, as we begin Q3, many general interpretations I'm listening to summarize the business climate at the end of six roller coaster months in phrases like "could have been worse", and "not as bad as it could have been".
This is Not a time for..."let's see what happens."
For months, I have held off in this blog from using words such as "war" and "battle". First, I did not want to be seen as an alarmist, and second, I had "hoped" that all government officials would simply mandate the use of the very simple survival tactic of wearing masks.
What I know from 30 years of studying and executing Sales is that "hope is never a strategy", and I should not have been as naïve to think that politicians would have made the tough decisions and done the right thing. Some have done that like straight-talking Charlie Baker and Andrew Cuomo, while too many others made stupid excuses, and as a result are now experiencing almost out-of-control numbers both from infections and also in their economies.
Our personal prediction is that the impact from the summer will be disastrous on all fronts followed by another sharply negative decline in September and October as we try to reopen the schools...and then shut them down again in late October until December.
But this note early this afternoon is not about politics. There's way too many highly qualified people and the not-so-qualified headline grabbers already in the media who are overwhelming the social channels. This post this afternoon is about what we can be doing in our own companies to survive at the very least and, more importantly, be able to grow during the period of this war over the next twelve months.
THIS IS A TIME of WAR & taking action now!
- Focus on winning short-term battles in short bursts of time
Your marketing and sales planning horizon should be only weeks, not months. Plan from this Monday until the end of July. On August 1st, plan through the end of August. Labor Day, do the same for September. Way back during the week of Memorial Day, I believed that we would know enough about the business impact of the virus such that by Labor Day we could plan through the end of the year. What we now know is that we do not know much except the math of the numbers, and those numbers are negative and about to get worse.
- Plan only short-term assigned activities
Forget strategy and bring all of your sales and marketing tactics down to street-to-street level activities. If we do this, this will happen then. If we do that, this will probably occur. All activities should be assigned to individuals and to teams of individuals. This is not a time for creating consensus through brainstorming ideas or harmonizing mission statements. This is a time for strong leadership in assigning and mandating specific weekly activities, objectives and timelines. I just got off a 30-minute follow up status call that happens every Friday at 8:00 AM where tough questions were asked, and short answers were given by very senior sales managers including me since I'm heading up the marketing activities. That same group will be on a 30-minute call at 7:30 on Tuesday, detailing what occurred on Monday and outlining the activities for the week ahead.
- Think about Marketing as short-term experiments
Measure everything in a CMS platform like Hubspot and make battlefield decisions as to "Did it work?", or "Did it not work?" Do not think about marketing strategically during these times; think instead of using campaigns simply as lead gen experiments. If the campaign worked, do it again, spend more money and time and drive more results. Very simply, if the campaign did not work, use another tool, create another campaign and do more short-term experiments. This is not a time for hope; this is a time for analytics, measured marketing reach and detailed follow up.
- Change the velocity of the curve by adding resources
In times like these, nothing changes by itself. Certainly nothing will get better, and results will quickly deteriorate if nothing changes in what drives sales, and during these times, what will drive sales is increasing the number of people involved in sales and marketing and adding marketing resources. Of course, I'm not suggesting adding any significant expense, and, yes, I would expect that you have already trimmed the fat and cut deeply into the bone of your expenses everywhere in the company Having said that, have you...
- reallocated administrative people to become lead gen specialists
- reallocated engineers to team up with Sales to become product demo specialists
- considered bringing on a rising senior majoring in Marketing at $15/hour
- considered the same for Sales for bringing in one or two BDRs
- ...and other tactics which allow you to free up the time of your sales warriors
MANAGING SALES SUCCESSFULLY IN A COVID WORLD: AUGUST 24TH--25TH
It's for this reason that we are scheduling our next online Sales Management Boot Camp at the end of August, so that we can arm sales leaders with impactful battle plans and proven sales tactics that will enable their salespeople to achieve success during the unknowns of the last four months of 2020:
For two mornings of August 24th & 25th, we're holding our Sales Management Boot Camp online.
The next day, August 26th, we're available to work one-on-one with team members.
- Focused on sales management for CEOs, presidents and sales managers at all levels
- We're totally focused on tactics to insure a successful September & Q4.
- Focus will be specific tactics within the categories of process, tools, technologies, & people
- Skills training, process-building, lead gen, forecasting, closing, and managing & hiring in 2020.
- Proven sales management experts: Jack & George plus...
- James Stone, Director, Mid Market Sales, Hubspot & Colleen Honan, CSO, Building Engines
- Mike Schumann, VP Sales, SYRG, & John Routhier, CSO, Skill Survey, just signed up.
- We will specifically customize our content around the specific needs of our attendee team. Now's the time to sign up and let us know where you want us to tactically focus.
Different from big numbers of people and formulaic programs, our boot camps are focused at 20ish managers so that there is plenty of opportunity for customization and active engagement through the sessions.
Click here for more information, and then my suggestion would be to connect with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can set up a call to answer questions.
HAVE A GREAT weekend and preparing for battle for summer
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.
Be safe, be positive and be tactical!