Working in Boston, now back traveling to the offices of our clients, teaching at Tufts, hanging out in NH, and digging in the dirt and snow of Vermont, I go through lots of different clothes, boots, shoes and jackets. Like you, I greatly appreciate quality, style and especially value in what I wear and the cars I drive, which is why I drive a Subaru Outback most of the time. When it comes to clothes and shoes, being a Vermonter I love both the brands of Orvis (the headquarters is just down the road a piece) and Carhartt (the basic uniform of most Vermonters).
This time of year, in between Zoom and Team calls, I've been ankle-deep in the dirt and last weekend's mud in the gardens in both NH and Vermont planting, cutting and weeding. It's good for the soul and my hyper-sense of organization to be able to dive into the deep end of the mud and "get er done" no matter what the weather...or the business...forecast is.
- Right here at the beginning of June, our Q2 business forecast is looking pretty good among all of our clients now working through the details to end with a robust close to the quarter. Concerns about supply lines and labor unknowns are obviously top of mind, but business forecasts in general seem to be solid for the next four weeks.
- When I got in the car last night to drive from Boston to Vermont for a day of morning meetings and garden work this afternoon, the weather forecast also looked pretty good, and I planned my calls and meetings for the day around that forecast. Early this AM, it's a raw 55 degrees and pouring rain, but somehow the outside work still needs to be completed between lawyer calls at 10, a weekly Team meeting at 11 and a F2F 3:00 new client meeting this afternoon.
Bottom line is that weather forecasts change all the time, and of course, we have zero control, but yet, the work still needs to be completed. Business plans and sales forecasts go through just as many variations as the unknowns of the weather, but at the end of a week like today and the end of the quarter in less than four weeks, sales quotas still need to be met and operating plans and product commitments completed just as we forecasted.
As anyone who has seen my Vermont woodlot, everything is "neat & tidy" especially in the spring and summa'. That organization allows me ready access to a season's worth of kindling and two of the four cords of wood I burn every winter.
Having everything organized and "in its place" is the way I work out in the woods and also in my management consulting work since that level of organization allows me to have "extra time" when the weather changes or in the case of work, unexpected client speed bumps occur.
Discussing marketing is fun, until we need to decide...
"Discussing" Marketing is exciting, challenging and lets our brains run free...at least that is until we need to make the choices of what we need to do in order to move ahead. And today, given the hundreds of both strategic and tactical choices available to us in both Sales and in Marketing, the task often seems to be overwhelmingly difficult. Actually, that's not the case compared to making choices about...for instance...milk.
Drove late last night here to VT for a fully packed day today of normal Derby Management meetings and the first two of our seven final student presentations for the semester.
BTW, although snow is still on the ground here at the house in the woods, down in the big city of Winhall (pop.769) 2.8 miles away at the general store, our own VT version of outside dining at Starbucks, the sun is out although a brisk 50,
13 weeks after that first always-a-bit-awkward, full-tilt, information-packed start to the semester back in January, we're now down to the final 90 minutes of meetings with the senior management of our marketing project companies:
Last week, I mentioned that Brian Bresee, an alum from our marketing course, and now Hubspot's North America's Director of Partnership Sales, provides a lecture every semester starting with an outline of Inbound Marketing.
Brian and I met 11 years ago at Tufts, became friends with a common love of being on the Vermont snow. After graduating, he worked for one of my companies as a BDR, moving to Hubspot 10+ years ago and has become a highly valued Tufts Lecturer in my courses for the last 8 years. Brian provides content and Hubspot platforms for our course and has become a coach for numbers of my students who want to move into a sales role. Same way that I coached Brian a decade ago, which is all about giving back to our Tufts students through our alums.
Brian masterfully brings the strategy of Inbound right down to the reality of teaching the specifics of blogging to junior and seniors who have marketing plans to deliver to real companies in just 10 weeks from now.
For me, having been a writer of books, newsletters, magazine and newspaper articles and now blogs, I know that blogging is one of the most important tactical tools in any marketer's toolbox. In fact, prior to 2018, when video content began to rise and then just exploded in use in 2020, blogs led the list as the most heavily used media tool
At Tufts where I'm a professor for two courses-"Entrepreneurial Marketing" and "The Science of Sales", a decade plus later, I have the luxury of bringing back our alums from these courses who are now experts in their own fields at their companies to teach portions of our 13 week semesters.
The exciting results are...
With 30 years of skiing anchored firmly in my Vermont winta' roots, I've now spent the last 25 years only snowboarding gaining a new love for old trails and new woods and parks that I would have never explored on skis. I still remember the taunts and laughs from my skier buddies I left behind, but as with anything new, I've learned to find the best coaches and study harder and longer than others.
This winta' morning, I find myself at the NH beach trading my Big Boy Ariens snowblower back in VT for shovels that fit NH winding paths and decks that overlook a very angry ocean. It will actually be good to grab some fresh air and quick exercise today between six zooms and a board meeting. One of the benefits of WFH.
Love winta'...but cannot wait for March 20th, the official start of spring and leaving behind dark mornings and getting back out into the VT woods with my chainsaw or looking for seaglass on the NH beach. I do love the rhythm and the variety of the NE seasons...most of the time
Tags: sales coaching, sales effectiveness, closing sales, marketing effectiveness, sales management boot camp, business coaching, how to close sales, improving sales productivity, sales success, how to write a sales plan, planningsalestodayinacovidworld
The final Tufts six presentations from my marketing course were completed last Friday. Six companies provided individual marketing projects, with five to six students assigned to a team back in July so everyone hit the ground running in September.
- "just extraordinary",
- "over the top",
- "far-surpassed expectations"
Each of the management teams of the six companies actually provide 40% of the overall course grade for the semester. Now, this weekend I and my TAs will work through the very difficult job of grading 32 students.
Being a student or being a salesperson is always about the bottom-line reality of how many points go on the scoreboard. Right now, before I work through the math of the actual grading, it would appear, based on the customer feedback, that there will be an overabundance of "A"s. In addition to the actual grading, I am very pleased that two of our project companies this semester have provided job offers to three students.
During one of the debriefs last Friday following their presentation, I asked the six-person team, who worked on the marketing plan for a $40m company looking at a new market, what defined the success of this project for them, and I was struck by the maturity and the exacting management behavior that they expressed. So, I thought I would share this this morning for you to assess your work during these final two weeks of the year.
- "Since no one on the team knew another when we began, we defined up front who would do what and what the team and our individual responsibilities would be."
- "We agreed to strict daily and weekly timelines since we knew the reality to deliver a marketing plan in 13 weeks."
- "Yea, we elected a Team Captain, but we all agreed to complete responsibility for the project as a team."
"We committed to rAPID Group Knowledge"!
- "We agreed to making sure that all six of us knew "everything about everything" so that there were no islands of knowledge. Yes, primary responsibilities were centered in individuals, but we agreed that "Group Knowledge" was most important especially for our research work and for our customer discovery with the company's prospects and customers."
- "We used a strategy of writing down content quickly that we discovered and also we created as "a stream of consciousness" not caring much about making it formal with punctuation or format."
- "We used Google Drive and avoided Slack and Teams because Google was just more personally comfortable and immediate for us individually."
- "We operated in frequent short sprints with no long meetings until the end"
- "Space, time and location were unimportant in our virtual team, and being online virtually actually worked much better than needing to get together physically
- "Time was now...all the time."
- "We formally scheduled customer meetings at the same time every single week"
- "We completed exhaustive discovery up front repeating the same questions again and again until we came to very detailed answers which led to very detailed objectives"
As a professor, I always learn as much as I teach!
I've thought about these comments all week. The maturity and the sophistication of the basic, but hard things that make a project or one's quota not only achievable, but highly attainable and successful. This morning as we look out over the remaining 12 days of December, I thought that some of these best practices of managing against the clock and to the project or to your quota might prove useful. For other ideas, check out our site for tactics at... https://www.derbymanagement.com/sales-productivity
Have a great day selling Today...12 days left!
CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD
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'll 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.
I've had the privilege of teaching at MIT and Tufts for 20 and 15 years respectively. The experience...
- Blends in perfectly with my other passion of consulting in sales, marketing and business planning
- Reminds me of just how much I still do not know, and my requirement to be a life-long student
- Provides me with continuing opportunities to catch up with and engage my alums.
With teaching every Wednesdays at Tufts, I always have a process (should not be surprising to anyone who knows me) to making sure that everything is in place since I well know by now that both time and students are unforgiving.
Tags: marketing effectiveness, marketing productivity, Tufts marketing projects, free marketing projects from universities, marketing plans, how to write a marketing plan, entrepreneurship, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center