Following Directions...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Jun 12, 2015

winhall_market-resized-600By now, I figure I've taken over 2,400 trips to Vermont over the years traveling back and forth from either Boston or NH.  At three hours, the trip takes about the same amount of time from either starting point, and the distance evens out between 150 and 180 miles.

The problem, as the Boys on the Bench down at the Winhall General Store frequently tell me is that "you can't get there from here" whenever I mention that I'm leaving the mountains to drive to the NH beach...and they're right.  There's no easy way to go east and west between Vermont and New Hampshire, and every trip presents a variety of decisions that ultimately end up just frustrating me.

The easiest...and the best...process would be for me to just turn on my GPS, let the car figure out where it needs to go, sit back, relax, think about the business and make lots of calls.  And, that's exactly what I should have done last Friday as I drove early in the morning from the beach to the mountains.  Early, so I could get to Vermont and still make my list of morning conference calls, and also it's the best time of day to travel,  As I set out at 5:00 AM, everything was planned perfectly including a group of calls to be made during the trip and timed to fit in between the various cell zone holes along the way.

And then, I forgot to follow my own process by simply deciding not to turn on the GPS.  After all, I've made the trip countless times, the car knows the way, it was a beautiful day, and I had plenty of calls to occupy my time.   Unfortunately since I didn't follow that self-prescribed process, and I became totally entrenched in one of those calls, by the time that I did pay attention to where I was on the highway, I was approaching the Lake Winnipesaukee exit, a good hour north of where I should be.   One hour north...and then, of course, one hour south...brought me back to where I should have exited 93 two hours before, if only I had been paying attention and had followed my own process of always having my GPS turned on playing in the background..

Process always wins.  It does in most jobs-pilots, surgeons, finance, engineering and manufacturing, not to mention, the military and the police.

Sales_Process-1Process also always wins in the profession of Sales.

My partners and I build countless sales processes in a wide variety of companies and industries, and we always get some level of pushback from older salespeople who tell us that they've been selling for years, they know how to sell, and they need "flexibility" rather than process.    Although that may have been the case "back-in-the-day", those days are gone forever.   


Today, we know that when one surveys (Forrester Research) B2B senior-level buyers across a wide variety of industries:

  • The salespeople who still focus on "the good ol' days of relationship selling" will report 56% of the time following their meetings that their meeting was "great", "accomplished a lot", and they are looking forward to the next meeting
  • When the senior-level buyers from those same relationship-style meetings are surveyed, 79% state that the meeting was "poor in quality"; and that "the rep was either badly or totally unprepared", 
  • Only 18% of those same buyers say that their meetings with salespeople meet their expectations
  • And then finally, only 7% say that they would schedule a follow-on meeting as a result

In a world where the buyer is more educated than ever before, and where 70% of the buying decision in a B2B purchase is made before the buyer even sees or talks to a salesperson, the requirement for formal sales processes, where little is left of "flexibility", is greater than ever before.

Process needs to be "The Rule of the Road" for all of us in sales...and, it looks like in all of my road trips along the Vermont to NH to Boston Triangle.

Have a great weeekend and GOOD SELLING with now just two more weeks to go in the quarter!  


Have specific sales questions that you want to bounce off me or any of our other coaches, just email me, and we'll set up a time to talk.




 Jack Derby 



Head Coach  
Derby Management...for 25 years
-Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
-Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
-Senior Management Coaching

Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222 

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tufts_logo_2-resized-600I'm starting to get prepared for my fall marketing course...


Each semester I look for six complex marketing assignments that are given to five person teams of juniors and seniors as semester-long projects. All of the course material during the semester is then taught around these projects. Right now, I'm looking for four additional companies.


A syllabus along with the project outlines is sent to the students in early July with the requirement that they do research on the companies and quickly define in writing before they come to the first class during the first week of September, exactly why they should be accepted into the class to work on any of these particular projects. This is a very desired course, and currently, I have 46 students signed up among the categories of Registered, the official "Wait List" and then the longer, unofficial "Wait-Wait List"., I need to bring total attendance down to no more than 32 by the end of the first class in September, and the summer homework of reviewing the company assignments, doing research on the companies and completing reading assignments constitute the means through which I measure the motivation and commitment of students coming into the course.


The structure of the process always works, and, most importantly, very often this course becomes the most influential in the students' college experience, simply because of the fact that it introduces them to the inner workings of senior management teams who are dealing with the real life experiences of launching new products, assessing market opportunities and creating multi-faceted marketing campaigns.


Paige Dahlman, this extraordinary student from last semester, who is now a just-graduated senior and has been the Captain of the Tufts Squash Team, writes..." I can easily say that this was my most rewarding class at Tufts".  Each semester I get a number of similar notes, which, I hope points a little bit to my teaching style and to the content, but, I know that the most impactful component of this course is its unique structure of directly connecting bright students to work with senior management teams who have a need to explore a new marketing or product idea.  


Recently, I was awarded the School of Engineering Teacher of 2014-2015, but the award really goes to the students and to the unique structure of this class working with real companies and management.




We've now completed 84 projects covering a wide spectrum of markets, projects and company sizes which have ranged from Raytheon and Fidelity, to startup tech, healthcare and apparel companies, to well-established consumer companies, such as Paytronix and Stratton Resort, both of whom were looking for the unique perspectives of Millennials. One company has returned six times, four companies, four times...and so on. 

And no one has been disappointed!


No Later Than June 15th, Please...


June_15 If you're interested in applying to be part of this very rewarding project, just let me know by email NO LATER THAN JUNE 15TH, and I will send you the instructions of what is expected of both the companies and the students.  At the end of the semester, the company's management  teams will come to Tufts for 60 minute presentations where they will also receive all of the  project material, research data and recommendations that have been prepared.   


This deadline of June 15th does not mean that the project details need to be completed by that time.  You have until September 1st do that. 


 What I do need to do is to be able to send to the students in early July a syllabus along with a package of information that includes...


  • A paragraph or two on the company and especially on its customer focus. 
  • Who are the existing customer personas?
  • An outline, in as much detail as you can provide, of the assignment.  
  • Contact information of the project leader 


It's a superbly rewarding experience...


Both for you in the added depth that you will achieve in your marketing plans, and for the students as they become introduced to the senior management from real world companies.  In a number of cases, our students go on to work as interns and employees from their host companies. 










Tags: sales productivity, Sales Optimization, sales effectiveness, sales tools, improved sales management, sales management training, closing sales, how to close sales, best sales practices;