It's been a very exciting time during the last four months as our 2022 planning ramps with our customers. What I thought might be helpful is to share with you some of the primary themes we are experiencing in our role as business planning consultants as management gears up for 2022. The following bullets are not prioritized, plus they come from a wide cross-section of markets covering healthcare, tech, food, industrial commodities, financial services and not-for-profits.
Yesterday, I completed my virtual follow-up visit with my cardiologist, Dr. Michael at MGH. It's hard to even use those words, "my cardiologist" after being diagnosed with "massive heart disease" (another uncomfortable choice of words) five years ago with 100% of one artery blocked and 60% of another.
The only reason I lived was that I had grown two new arteries which "naturally bypassed" the two diseased arteries. Who knew? Not me! Not my Vermont country doc who had incorrectly diagnosed my shortness of breath as asthma and loaded me down with three different scripts for inhalers which I used for years before moving back to Boston and new docs at MGH.
We've all heard this phrase- "focus only on what you can control"- numerous times now over the last 10 chaotic weeks. This Monday morning I'm merely suggesting that we give it a solid 60 minutes of detailed thinking during this week bringing the clouds of buzz in that phrase down to the streets of reality with a small number of carefully planned activities that we can totally control.
3 critical baselines we can totally control:
- Our Personal Health:
Most importantly, focus on your personal health and the health of your families! That's always Job #1 and that by itself will take us through this chaos! Once our own health and that of our family is solid and has been locked down, then we can figure out everything else.
Since by now everyone understands the basics of what it takes to remain healthy, I'm recommending ramping up those basics 2X over the next four months. Keeping ourselves healthy during the heat of this summer will be very difficult to say the least. For a solid example of what it means to ramp up the basics, take a look at leading healthcare and certified nursing advocate, Jenn Loughty's hand washing site!
Our Business Health:
Ramping up the basics of our business health was outlined perfectly last week by my good friend, noted author and acclaimed speaker, Jamie Turner in his 60SecondMarketer blog on
"7 Strategies to help your business get through the crisis." Definitely a worthwhile read!
This is stuff we already kinda' know, but now's the time to ramp it up 2X ...and squash the curve!
- Our Sales & Marketing Processes:
We can totally control the necessary pivots to our Sales and Marketing processes and the tools that we're using right now in Q2. We obviously can't "control" our actual sales results...couldn't before and certainly can't now..., but we can totally control what "Activities" we're planning and executing!
For years I've been a student of strategy and business planning, and this simple graphic has always been a solid guide to center me when I'm working with our clients. In today's world of planning what we will be doing in marketing and sales, this is not a time when we should be focused on either vision or strategies. This is a time to be laser focused on the next 90 days with everything riveted on the tactical execution of activities.
If there is a strategy, it is to survive, and survival is about executing battlefront activities!
Does it make sense?
This is a very simple question to ask ourselves in our week-by-week and month-by-month battle planning of activities between now and the 4th of July since at the latest you should not be planning out further than that.
Get down to the street level and go through an analytical thought process of sense-making by yourself and ideally with your sales & marketing team.
Get your head out of the clouds of strategic planning and ask yourself "Does it make sense?" as you focus on the activities necessary to sell to customers in mini-territories of streets and not states and you launch Inbound-Only Marketing campaigns to one industry and not five.
- Our Sales Forecasting:
We've now been living in this increasing chaos of the unknown for about eight weeks, and I continuously hear questions like I heard on a webinar I was on last Monday week with the amazing Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
- The question was asked by a head of sales: "How do I forecast in these times?"
- Me: "Plan out only 4 weeks!". (2 weeks ago, it was 2 weeks.)
- He: "My boss wants to see a forecast out to December"
- Me: "Just say no. Plan out 4 weeks listing 5 assumptions. In 2 weeks, do 4 more.
- Me: "Focus 95% of your time on your current customers!
- Me: "Focus 100% on your value propositions & not on your products"
Sales Management Boot Camp: May 12th & 13th
"Successfully Managing Sales in Chaotic Times"
If you want to understand what it takes to successfully manage, sell, train, ramp up and forecast in these chaotic times, work with us online in a highly engaged, hands-on Sales Management Boot Camp!
- Two three & a half hour team sessions on the mornings of May 12th and 13th
- One-on-one Coaching Sessions on May 14th
- We actively engage everyone in our unique strategy of "Process-Tools-Technology & People".
- We dive deep into real-life tactics that you can start using immediately the next week.
- We focus on developing street-level playbooks of Activity Plans.
Now, we're bringing that expertise online with the same level of deep practicality and active engagement that's resulted in hundreds of notes of thanks from managers and presidents of both large corporations and mid-market companies covering a wide range of markets.The primary coaches will be George Simmons and me, with guest speakers featuring Colleen Honan, CSO of Brainshark and James Stone, Director of Mid-Market Sales at Hubspot. Two leading mid-market companies focused on sales and marketing productivity with two highly successful sales execs who have figured out how to adapt and sell in this period of unknowns.
Click here for more details and then just connect directly with me for any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will set up a call with you right away and get you registered!
If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board, just connect at any time. Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.
Obviously, no cost-just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.
Have a safe and positive week !
Professor, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center
-The Science of Sales
In a time of fear and concern regarding the personal and business impact of the COVID-19 virus, where do I turn?
My recommendation is listen only to the experts!
If I listen to most radio channels or watch David Muir on the evening news, in all respect, I don't know whether I should immediately drive to my Vermont bunker up on the ridge and hunker down with my six months of rations, or merely drive to Home Depot and pick up more antiseptic wipes.
The Scores are on the Board!
2019 in review
The scores have been on the scoreboard now for a few days since the official year ended on the 30th, and the final game tapes have been reviewed. There'll be a couple of minor adjustments made during this week, but the big numbers are already posted on the board!
Today, hopefully you're heads down and totally focused on completing the year ahead of plan. Whether you're in the profession of sales or you're an artist working on delivering the last of the Christmas ornaments, next week is the week when all of the marbles get measured. Yea, I know...the month doesn't end on the 20th, but for all practical purposes, it really does. Even if you're planning to work on the 24th and the 30th and 31st, you're going to be very lonely sitting at home talking to no one, so this is the last week to "Git-R-Done!"
As you're lining up calls, connections and closings today while keeping an anxious eye on the disappearing minutes on the clock, keep very focused on just three things:
Don't Overthink.Your work today and next week is all about your focus to close deals in five days from today!
You are not in the business of providing creative strategy or product development solutions for your prospective customer that will impact their business two or three years from now. You're the solution and business value provider whose company will provide the absolute best products and services that will improve your prospects' 2020 business results by increasing their revenue, their gross profit and their net income.
Be HumanWith a short countdown till launch of only five days, be human and project your own humanity of working 10 and 12 hours a day at this time of year to the person on the other side of the table-phone-text-email-videophone. They're just as stressed as you are and have equally stretched schedules of work, kids, teacher conferences, holiday parties and wicked travel. Yesterday, it took me two and a half hours just to drive from Logan to the Back Bay...and there were no accidents. Forget 128/95/495 travel at 7:00 AM or 5:00 PM, but also remember that that's the reality of what happens to your prospect every day. Be extremely sensitive to that type of reality and assess what it is that you could do personally that would reduce the stress, improve the time efficiency and impact the value that you and your products provide to your buying decision maker?
I'm running a two-day business planning session during the first week of January for 16 people. The real work is the technical stuff related to the prep, the interviews, and the facilitation of the meeting. I happily volunteered (and was immediately asked to do so) to take care of all of the logistics, hotel and travel reservations, food and everything else freeing up the senior team to focus on closing their year.
Buckle UpThis is crunch time; it's as simple as that!. This weekend and the next five days require 100 hours of work, waking up before the kids tomorrow and Sunday and getting in at 7:00 AM and not 8:30 all next week.
Do everything you already know how to do and make sure that you're physically and mentally on the top of your game because when it's over, it's over!
Now, get back to work, and have a great day today being remarkable!
You cannot not like Michael Porter...
The guy is just brilliant! Been around for a long time. Lots of books. Got the Five Forces Thing down. Senior professor at HBS. Has a building on campus named after him. And, he's a true Renaissance Man, who continues to do research, write and still actively teach. The Real Deal !