Taint Season in Vermont & the World of Sales

winhall market-4It's Taint Season in Vermont...

-Taint winta'...the calendar says it's spring

-Taint spring...snow is still 2 feet on the ground

-Taint sugarin'...sap ended two weeks ago

-Taint summa'...no Boys on the Bench at the Store yet

Even the Winhall General Store will shorten its hours in a couple of weeks given that there just taint much happenin' in Vermont in the "Tween Seasons" from mid April into early May.

This is that time of year to get ready for the summa' and the hordes of new and old flatlanders with fat bundles of cash in their pockets to buy Vermonty stuff and hopefully new ski houses at Stratton. 


Clean Forest, Happy Forest

Boy Toy Thanksgiving 2013The value of this time of year, right here at the very end of March, is taking a deep breath and figuring out what needs to be cleaned up, redone, straightened out and made shovel-ready for the real spring, whenever that magically appears.  I'm out in the woodlot this weekend, even with the snow still on the ground along with the trusty Artic Cat ATV and my chainsaw to start dealing with the winter debris. 

My motto for my acres of woods is "Clean Forest, Happy Forest", and the very good news is that Mike, another "true" Vermonter, and I have the same principles of organization and tidiness. So tomorrow, it will be two ear-numbing chain saws rasping through the entire day until there are only a few twigs left on the ground. 

Good for the head, good for the soul, good for the forest and good for my health !

Clean Sales Funnel, Happy Q2

Derby Management Sales -Marketing Funnel-6-4I've been a student of the math of Sales for 30 years. 

For me, since I never grew up in Sales (numerous people tell me all the time that I never grew up period.), I have always regarded the world of Sales and Marketing through the lens of the same four skills and management oversight that I learned early in my career running manufacturing floors and engineering labs for both large and small companies. 



  1. Process:  Customized and detailed step-by-step funnels
  2. Tools:  Customized sales tools that get plugged into each of the process steps
  3. Math:  Conversion rates, KPIs and metrics measured in in real time
  4. Technology:  CMS & CRM fluency with required certification

Today, funnels and funnel math dominate my thinking about planning and especially about activity execution in both Sales and Marketing.  As the highly experienced, Colleen Honan, the Chief Sales Officer of Brainshark, and one of the absolute best heads of sales I have ever worked with says when she lectures at my Science of Sales course... "you must have a plan to make plan".  So simple, so basic and so true, and then with her salespeople she brings them through the complexity, by making it simple, of forecasting and committing to a plan!

The magic today is that there are wonderful CRM and CMS technologies, (we love Hubspot, as our readers know) with many integrated easy-to-use apps that provide us instant monitoring and coaching opportunities. 

All of this leads me this morning to three recommendations based on lots of time in Vermont cleaning up the woods, and working in conference rooms of giant corporations and tiny startups figuring out how to bring the simplicity of Process-Tools-Math-Technology down to the street level, which is where it counts.

1.  Q2 is the most important Q of the year

You submitted your business/sales/marketing plan to your boss and your board in December.  You laid it out to the salesforce in January at the kickoff and have now experienced the results...both good, bad and "What the heck happened?". 

Right now, in the next two weeks, sit down, assess what occurred and use all of that data and experience to clean up your go-forward plan for the rest of the year.  Prune it, throw out the debris, plant a few new seeds, but do not leave it as it is.  Success in executing on Sales and Marketing plans is about thinking through the tactics and activities of change, and right now-in the next two weeks-is the perfect time of year to institute that level of thinking...and planning.

You can create change in April that will significantly impact the velocity of your results from September through the rest of the year.  Maybe even through the dog days of August.  On the other hand, changes that you make in July, following the end of Q2 will barely cause a ripple in November and December...other than added expense.

2. Early April is a critical time for Team Engagement

These next two weeks are a superb time to get the team together, sit down and think through the tactics and the activities for Q2 and Q3.  Reviewing the numbers from Q1 is important, of course, but only from the standpoint of history and the associated math.  What is much more important is the management principle of conducting one or two day-long QBRs, "Quarterly Business Reviews", where the entire team is presenting their detailed tactical and activity Q2 plans to one another.  This concept of "peer-to-peer" learning has been proven to be the most effective type of sales training of any kind. Not from the boss.  Not from big name speakers.  But, from peers explaining their own "Best Practices", which are then codified down into "the way we sell".

3.  "Smarketing" is a real word-Start using it

My buddy, Dan Tyre from Hubspot, introduced the "Smarketing" word to me 10 years ago, and it has now become a real word in the vocabulary of Sales & Marketing.  Smarketing is all about...

  • One long, continuous activity funnel from that moves from "Awareness" to "Close"
  • Never losing contact with any prospect or customer by consistently nurturing with new content
  • Making absolutely sure that there's common language, metrics and objectives everywhere

Just three ideas to think about as we head into this glorious Easter and Passover weekend. 

Enjoy the weekend with friends, family and loved ones, and come back on Monday refreshed and ready to dive into the deep end of the pool tackling Q2 right up front.

Good Selling !

Jack Derby

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

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Tags: value propositions, Inboound, sales management plans, marketing planning, sales management productivity, creating trust in sales, sales careers