The only sales resolution you need in 2018:

Don’t waste time. You will never get it back. When your target comes due, you will wish you had more of it.

When I ask sales leaders what type of training they think their teams need I often hear: “Time Management”. However, I am convinced that time management is a course title created by training companies to make money. I rarely find people with actual time management issues.  What I have seen most often are people with priority management issues.

Most Sales Leaders I know set high, but reasonable targets for their teams. Most Salespeople I know accept their targets as attainable on Jan 1st. Assuming a couple weeks vacation and an average salaried employee work week, we all have the same amount of time to hit our targets each year. The problem begins when we look at our task list on Monday. Everything looks the same, no way to distinguish what is most important. Or worse yet, we have no task list. We operate by the seat of our pants. Our priorities are not clear. That is a huge risk and our biggest time waster.

If we started with a plan to categorize priorities as A, B, & C or Top, Middle, Low we would naturally be drawn to the highest priority. We would feel more compelled to get it done. I personally use a system of Big Rocks, Little Rocks, and pebbles.

Think of it this way- We are at a lake and we each have a pile of Big rocks, small rocks, and pebbles. The goal is to toss in your peices and create ripples that extend to the other side of the lake. What would you grab first? Of course the big rocks! They are best chance of hitting the other side with ripples. In fact, you might not ever throw the pebbles knowing the lack of impact they will have.

What are your big rocks for 2018? For Q1? For this week? Can you take a minute and prioritize your list? Do it now!

Here is your resolution: Focus on my big rocks first. 

Here are some ways to make that happen:

  • Write your big rocks down and carry them or post them.
  • Go to Outlook now and add time to your calendar for your big rocks. Block off time to work them, block off time times for appointments, block off time for key customer visits. You can add TBD for now and fill in the details later. Set time for priorities now.
  • Align your big rocks with your sales leaders early. If you aren’t in alignment you’ll want to know now, not Q2.
  • Scale the size of your rocks to your target. Trying to push a boulder into the lake will likely not get you the ripples you want and will leave you exhausted on the shore.
  • Begin working on one of your big rocks right now, immediately after reading this!

Dont let anyone trick you into believing you have a time management problem, not this year. It’s a myth. Get your big rocks ready, make them the priority, and get ready to create some ripples.

 

 

Win or Learn, Never Lose

Win or Learn. That is my mantra.

I play Chess. Jim, a friend of my moms, taught me to play when I was 4.

I don’t know how many games I’ve played in my lifetime but it’s been a lot.

In my mind, I’ve never had an actual loss. I’ve won and I’ve learned.

Sometimes I learn strategy and technique from better players; sometimes I learn what not to do; sometimes I learn that I have to be less impulsive, more thoughtful and patient; sometimes I learn that I should have been more aggressive- had I been focused on the win instead of defending my position….

I feel the same way about sales. You can have a win/loss ratio if you’d like but I think we’d be more productive and we’d be better players if we focused on what we’ve won and what we’ve learned.

So, what’s your ratio for this year? How often did you win? What did you learn?

I wish us all many wins for the year, but I also expect to learn a lot, and that’s ok. It will make me a better player in the long run.

Share Your Sales Plan, Then Get To Work!

For those that know me, you can count on one hand the number of sports analogies and examples I’ve made in my lifetime. Not many. I usually get all of my sports updates through friends at work, so I’m rarely confident enough to use sports examples when training or writing. (Thank you to Dave for letting me know there is no such thing as a football bat.)

However, a story caught my attention back in October and it is too good not to share. It deserves some discussion.

Ben Reiter, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, penned an article about his meeting with the Houston Astros in 2014. At the time of the meeting the Astros had a horrible record and were getting ready for a host of changes. What’s interesting is that the Astros leadership team decided to set their sights, not on tomorrow’s game, but on 2017. They had a vision of more than incremental improvement; they wanted to win it all and become the World Series Champions! Ben writes that he left the meeting with enough material for a great article and a prediction that was the source for debate until November of this year.

Three things stuck out to me in this article: First, the Astros never claimed they’d reform overnight. They knew the road would be long and missteps could happen. Second, they did analysis. they measured stats and made adjustments accordingly. Third, using Mr. Reiter’s words: “They told everyone exactly what they were going to do- and then they did it.” Unbelievable!

As we think about Sales Planning for 2018, I think we can learn from the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros.

  1. Start with a vision of the future. What is the long game? Finish this phrase: “I want to be the number one________________ by producing/ delivering ________________by _____(Insert Date)_.” Of course you will have goals throughout the year but if you are going to break free of the ‘what have you done for me lately’ mentality, then you also have to be thinking about the future. When you win a top performer award, no one will care that June was a horrible month.
  2. Know your stats. What are the 5 or 6 metrics that will truly measure your performance? Can you measure them easily? Create a scoreboard and display it! Make adjustments as you need to. Don’t be discouraged if you lose a few games, focus on moving the stats longer term. Focus on out-playing the competition or catching a star performer in your company.
  3. Share your plan and get to work. Telling people your plans and goals not only cement them in your mind but will also create a positive pressure to perform. Sharing your plan may also get you some great feedback on performance, tips and advice on how to be more effective, and hopefully some encouragement. Everyone loves it when someone hits a goal, well…..except maybe the Dodgers.

 

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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!