My Marketing Course at Tufts is quickly winding down with the first of the exam days yesterday afternoon. For the last 13 weeks, six teams of five very talented students have labored, learned, questioned, and, most importantly, collaborated on very complex marketing projects given to them by six companies at the beginning of July.
Presentations were made to the senior management of three of the companies yesterday, and the same will happen next Wednesday with the last three companies. Basically, every piece of marketing content, strategy and tactic that was taught over the semester has been incorporated into these marketing plans complete with market and competitive research, primary inbound and outbound strategies and a host of carefully planned and budgeted tactical recommendations.
Lots of very hard work, a number of speed bumps and surprises, like the unplanned acquisition of one of the companies mid-semester, but overall, very successful both for the companies in that they've received marketing deliverables that would have cost them thousands, and for the students, who have been paid both in real world experience and in grades.
One of the most impactful lessons comes the experience of having to go through the process of selecting their team members based only on their submitted bios, LinkedIn profiles and the quiet questioning associated with daily campus fraternity and sorority life. During every semester, there are team personnel issues, which are mostly sorted out by the Team Captain and the various team members.
Quite frankly, I find that the students are much more direct and blunt with a bad actor on their team than most corporate sales managers.
BTW, anyone interested in being part of this very unique experience for the spring semester, let me know immediately, and I'll send you an instruction sheet. Draft projects are being sent to the class on December 22nd, so timing is critical. Just email me.
Earlier this week, I spent a planning day with Paul Frascoia, CEO of the Critical Process Systems Group. Paul's a superb business leader, who has, through his consistent strategic planning process, pulled together a collection of acquired companies and built a powerful team of managers.
- He creates total buy-in on the corporation's business drivers
- He consistently brings all of the key managers from the very different businesses together to talk about strategy and tactics four or five times a year
- He creates common language and communication messages
- And most importantly, he puts complex issues directly on the table to be openly discussed.
Last night and today, I'm participating in a Brainshark board meeting. Greg Flynn, the President, has assembled a solid, closely-knit management team, and, he, most importantly, he and the CEO & founder, Joe Gustafson, have very directly tied in the various board members at a strategic level.
All board meetings begin with a dinner the night before which provides an open and comfortable opportunity, in a more relaxed setting, to get on the table one or two of the more complex issues that will be discussed today. Like in every company, there are huge success points and always a couple of speed bumps, but the fact that everything is put on the table and openly discussed results in much more efficient, effective and collaborative solutions. There's also heavy operating experience among these particular directors that typically results in a perfectly blended mixture of strategies and tactics on one hand and directly related sales and marketing observations and connections on the other.
Again a solid example of a closely knit team, in this case between the senior management and the board members, which, through example and company culture, is then carried down to the people who really count most...the sales, marketing, customer success and engineering teams.
At this time of year with everyone charging ahead at full speed using every possible minute of every possible day in order to finish the year on plan, it's critical to keep thinking ahead as to how you're going to pull both your sales and your management individuals more tightly together during 2016.
Here's a couple of recent Harvard Business Review ideas about how to initiate better collaboration at your company. When you're taking a look at this, read it through the eyes of being the Head of Sales and/or the head of the company.
NO ABSOLUTELY NOT...BUT...
Do you want to take any time now in December to sort this out with your salespeople and managers? No, absolutely, not, but, you do need to be thinking ahead to the first couple of weeks of January, clearing out some space-both in your head and in your calendar- to figure out with the other members of your sales team just how you can wring out another 20% sales productivity improvement in 2016. Ultimately, that level of improvement is going to based on creating very dynamic teamwork and open collaboration.
Our experience, in most companies is that 20% is a very achievable number...as long as everyone works as a collaborating team in quickly moving through the various strategies of focus and improved operating tactics and technologies. This is a very unique and exciting time in the science of sales enablement and marketing optimization, and, if you're not there yet, the beginning of 2016 is a great time to go out and explore this brave new world!
I'll just leave you with this simple thought, that I've personally learned the hard way, that it's much easier to work together as a Band of Brothers & Sisters than it is to be The Lord of the Manor.
Remember: Team is EVERYTHING!
Derby Management...for 25 years
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Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222