Time to get your fingers deep in the crankcase oil!

business planning 2021

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...

...total fluency in the math of the primary 2021 metrics and timelines in every department

...a deep understanding of each strategic & tactical departmental inter-dependency

...100% commitment to one another for both the total business and each department.

Notice here I used the "commitment" word here and not "consensus":

Commitment: com·​mit·​ment | \ kə-ˈmit-mənt: "100% agreement to something in the future"
Consensus: con·​sen·​sus | \ kən-ˈsen(t)-səs:   "the majority of opinions"

I don't know about you, but if I'm a senior team manager starting off the year, and the success of our business and my sales organization, and most importantly the security of our employees, is based on anybody who merely wants to register their "opinion" and is not willing to stand up, take responsibility and commit, that person is being kicked off the island tonight.  

In the world of Sales, one is either very successful at achieving committed quarterly quota...or at excuses, and the shelf life of an excuse is 30 days!  

100% Commitment:  "Give me an Amen!"

This time of year at our company consists of back-to-back sales meetings, business planning meetings, and board strategy meetings.  I love the energy, the pressure, the immediacy and, most of all, the complexity of facilitating to 100% commitment.  During this week ending today, we've had the excitement of seven different 2021 planning experiences ranging from senior team planning meetings to board strategy sessions to kickoff sales meetings.  A very exciting week!

A FEW best practices to get to 100% planning commitment:

  • Prepare with data
    Provide everyone with hard data prior to the meeting :
    • market research and analysis reports
    • detailed 2019 & 2020 company financial analysis
    • the same for sales performance by category, markets and people
    • customer sat and survey results
    • internal SWOT assessments
    Circulate whatever you have for data that will assist in reducing the amount of guessing and "my opinion is". This process will also serve to provide task team assignments coming out of the meeting for what data...and especially market and customer data...that you do not have, but that you consistently need to effectively run the business.
  • Provide a draft & a draft & a then final agenda
    Circulate an initial draft of an agenda to the planning team for consideration, their ideas and individual input.  Assess their comments, talk to everyone individually, then provide another draft, and then a final agenda. A tiny, but critical tactic in encouraging active engagement and the spirt of collaboration that you will use in the actual planning sessions.
  • Use an outside facilitator for planning meetings
    I've seen lots of meetings that did not do this and I, as president of companies in the past, had attempted to do this myself.  It rarely, if ever, works.  Obviously for most sales meetings and most departmental-level meetings, the person running the meeting is going to be the department manager.  For senior team or board-level annual or quarterly planning meetings, bring an experienced person in to be the equalizer, the traffic cop, the clock watcher, the note taker and the experiment provider when disagreements arise or things just get bogged down.
  • Be transparent in the meeting process 
    Take repeated short "time-outs" to explain to everyone in the meeting "here's where we are"..."here's where we're going?"..."everyone ok on that?"   
  • Watch the clock
    Based on the prep work, the talking to everyone one-on-one prior to the meeting, the results of a simplified SWOT, then transparently break the critical subjects into rough-cut time blocks and get agreement from everyone up front that that approximate use of time works.

    Zoom/Team meetings can be very effective.  
    • 8:30 to 1:30 time blocks for two back to back days
    • Frequent stand up 5 and 10 minute breaks
    • Openly show notes taken of primary issues, assignments and agreements 
  • Get to the Amen!
    Both vocally and in writing the notes transparently online, I always go around the table virtually asking every one, one by one, if they are signing up. That agreement is recorded, shown online and then summarized again at the end of the meeting and then in the final package of circulated notes. 
  • Always give assignments
    This might be just the professor in me, but rarely are a year's worth of critical strategy and tactical opportunities wrestled to the ground with 100% agreement within two days, or, in Zoom time, in two half days.  Where the team cannot get to agreement yet, get 100% agreement on what needs to be more fully researched or more detailed work needs to be prepared outside the meeting, then assign a task team leader to an assignment for that person to come back to the planning table in 45 days to present solutions.  
Just a few ideas this Friday morning to get you tactically thinking about planning out your 2021 company-wide business planning and/or your quarterly tactical planning for Sales and Marketing.  I'm sure that you have additional ideas, so this is a good time to go to the comments section here and share them with other of our readers.

Have a great day selling and enjoy what looks like a wicked cold weekend here on the NH beach.

Jack and Tufts Entrepreneurship Center -1


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.


How we look at " Selling in 2021".  Click here which brings you to the top of our "Sales Tools" Page, and then click on our "Selling in 2021 Report" at the top of the page for how we're looking at a very exciting year in a world of change which is totally defined by the buyers!



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