3 Lessons on Underwear & Better Sales & Marketing

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Thu, Mar 31, 2016

Back in the day, you probably remember your mother warning you about making sure that you were wearing clean underwear "because if you're in an accident, and they bring you to the hospital, then, you want to make sure that you don't have dirty underwear".  I must admit I didn't think about this a lot during my various ER experiences of broken bones after falling off my bike or crashing into trees while learning to snowboard. Actually, there never seemed to be any checklist at the ER asking about the health or even the cleanliness of my underwear.

But, every spring, I celebrate the end of winta' by visiting the Jockey store in Manchester, Vermont and buying 16 of everything.  It's part of my purging process to travel to this particular brick and mortar store and not succumb to the temptation of buying online and having FedEx deliver two days later.  More difficult?  Longer to execute?  Sure, but this annual ritual is part of my shaking off the heavy coat of a long winter and pushing me into thinking ahead to warmer temps and lighter clothing.  

Lesson #1: "Out with the old, in with the new" should be this spring's theme !

spring_cleaning in sales and marketing.jpgThey don't call it spring cleaning for nothing!   While I'm not fixated on cleaning the house per se, I am a fanatic about cleaning out the office (plus my Vermont woodlot) in the spring.  I typically tie this to the prep work that needs to be done before I send off all of the necessary tax filing stuff to my accountant, but, once I get caught up in all of that, there's always an extension of the process to sort through all of my files, printouts and hard copy articles that I've kept around for way too long, but didn't quite make it to the beach bag for this summer's reading.

You should think about doing the same not only for your physical office, but also for your digital files.

  • Are your customer and prospect files easy-to-get to?
  • Does the org structure for SFDC of whatever CRM system you're using, need updating?
  • Do you have a CRM summary account and activity file that's easy to pull up on your phone?
  • Can you easily access those critical sales training videos?
Now, ask these same questions of all of the members of your sales team!  If the answers all start with the word, "kinda", you have an efficiency problem at best, and more troublesome, an effectiveness problem which is increasing the length of your sales funnel cycle unnecessarily by 20%.

Sales Enablement (get it?  "enabling" your salespeople") is all about making your sales team both more efficient and more effective.   Taking time this weekend, or next week, after the quarter closes, and going through this cathartic process is not only good for the soul, but you'll also find that the results will be self-stimulating since during the process you'll rediscover old files that you had forgotten and identify where there are training content gaps that need to be filled.

Lesson #2:  Take a fresh look this spring at perfecting your customer experience

jockey4.gifThe Jockey Store is a perfect lesson in what we should all practice as simply superb Customer Success...

  • Whether the employees know my name or not, they make me feel that they do.  The words that they use evoke comfort and trust somewhat immediately right when I first walk in.  On Saturday, the first thing that I heard was an apology for not being able to let me in earlier than the standard time of 10:00 since she saw me standing outside, but she was finishing up vacuuming.  
  • Simple, polite questions lead the employees to online stats that then let them know what I've bought in the past, when, and how I've paid for it.  As a result, the transaction takes seconds and not minutes.

  • And then there are The Rewards.   I love rewards on my AMEX card, and I love shopping for discounts and incentives in general.  But, rewards for underwear?  And yet, there it is...a $10 coupon comes up in their files as a result of what I bought last time, and a promise of another $10 the next time I come back. What could be better?  Quite frankly, it's not the $10. They could charge me $25 or $35 more, and I wouldn't notice since the buying process is one of creating a warm feeling, a sense of personal comfort and a definition of someone and something that I trust.  All of that...from buying underwear...and rewards too?  How cool is that?

Too often in trying to bring customer success down to "our-size" companies, we're told to emulate FedEx, Staples, Home Depot or other enterprise giants, which leaves most of us staring blankly into space when all we're simply trying to do is to figure out how to have the phones answered after 5:00 PM.  In taking a fresh look this spring at our 2016 plans for improved Customer Success, my thoughts are that we should start thinking about the best examples in our personal lives that make us feel special.  My own are from tech companies such as Hubspot, Brainshark and Plum Choice, and retailers like Jockey.

Lesson #3:  Embrace Major Change 

Major changes in either strategy or in making meaningful shifts in sales and marketing tactics, take time to think through, to plan and then, most importantly to execute.  So, there's nothing in the "Embracing Major Change Column" that you want to try to do quickly without sufficient planning and training at a detailed level. Having said that, major changes, well planned out now at the beginning of the second quarter and executed brilliantly during the balance of this year, will have solid impact on your Q4 results and even more impact in 2017.

Let's turn again to Jockey and underwear for a lesson in major change...

jockey_2.pngIt used to be, way back "in the old days"...like two years ago...I would walk into the Jockey store and be overwhelmed by the sea of "Tidy Whitties".  

Today, white is still there, of course, but totally eclipsed with colors and an equally wide variety of shapes and sizes.

More importantly, the women's section of the store now occupies 75% of the space while "Men's White Underwear" has been moved to three sets of shelves on the back half of the left side of the store.  In embracing the strategy of "let's make major change", some clever young woman (most probably) asked "Why are we using our most expensive retail space to market a commodity product that anyone can buy online from Amazon?".   

jockey3.pngThe dramatic result is...

  • a totally redesigned brand,
  • a completely changed merchandising strategy,
  • clever marketing with just enough sex appeal,
  • and a friendly customer experience built on trust.

Will it work?  

I'm not sure yet, but I am totally positive that the old strategy, without a major change in branding, in persona targeting and pretty much every primary sales and marketing tactics was destined to fail.  

So, three thoughts about turning the page in the calendar come FRiday

  1. Out with the old, and in with the new during this spring cleaning
  2. Assess and perfect your customer experience
  3. Embrace Major Change

Should you try to do all three?  Nope, too much going on, and you need to focus on your day job of running the business and executing on your sales plan while managing a complex marketing package that's all ready to launch for whatever you are planning for Q2..   

What you should do...is to bring the team together next week, right at the beginning of the quarter, get 500 feet off the deck and figure out...

  • What were the best practices from Q1 where we need to apply more gas?
  • What didn't work, and we should stop doing?  Today Marketing is a series of timed experiments.
  • What do we need to clean up now and stop complaining about?
  • How can we move "customer service" to a level of focusing on "customer success"?

To give you some guidance in this process of questioning and then building a resulting plan, to get you started, you may want to click on here and receive a downloaded copy of our Writing the Winning Business Plan, 2016 edition.

Another opportunity for kicking off the quarter in the right spirit is to do the same type of "re-look" at the basics of your 2016 Marketing Plan after reviewing our ebook on "How to Write a Marketing Plan".  Mostly basics and structure stuff which just might be the correct view to take as we move into Q2. 

Good Selling ! during the next few days as you wrap up this critical quarter!


  Jack Derby 

 Head Coach  

 Derby Management...for 25 years
 -Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
 -Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
 -Senior Management Coaches for CEOs & VPs

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

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Tags: sales coach, sales planning, sales tools, Sales quota, sales culture