“Back to School” – time to Re-New, Re-Fresh and Re-Focus

Although we are currently working our way through the month of June, before we know it we’ll be mourning the end of summer and starting to think seriously about how we hit the sales number in the last few selling months of the year.

In some industries this period is known as “Back to School”. It’s a time that any of us that have children will recognize as when we prepare our offspring for a new school year and invest in equipping them with new uniforms and supplies to ensure they can be as confident and successful as possible.

ImageMaybe businesses should do the same for their people? Why does investment in training have to be a remedial event? Perhaps it should be a planned event to prepare individuals, teams and organisations for the challenges that we all know lie ahead.

In a lot of organisations a re-fresh of best practice activities and skills is all that’s needed. Sometimes it’s a little more, re-newing skills by adding new insights and practicing the set piece or maybe it’s the need to re-focus attitudes and your approach to your target markets.

So here are a few pointers that you might want to review to check if your people are going to need some “back to school” investment post summer.

  1. The pipeline is starting to look as if it could thin out and there is a risk of feast and famine rearing its ugly head. Worse still, the famine in results looks like it will hit at the end of Q4 or perhaps affect your sales into 2015.
  2. The “hygiene factor” noise from the team  is starting to increase in volume.
  3. Last years sales at the end of Q4 and perhaps Q1 this year were touch and go and although you hit the number, it involved a lot of scrabbling around.
  4. The business habitually goes tactical at the end of summer as the activity levels struggle to return to pre-summer levels.

 

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#justsaying

A series of short articles asking some of the awkward questions that we never seem to ask?

No 1: Why do we stick our heads in the sand?

In my career to date there are a number of incontrovertible truths that I have come across. One of the truths that will rise to the surface regularly is that businesses have a tendency to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the warning signs, or worse, the history of their business and its revenue trends.

An example: The historical revenue trend for company X says that we’ll have a dip in  core revenues across the Christmas period and again in the height of summer. So, we build this into our plans and forecasts and lo and behold we hit our numbers in those months. Yippee!

iStock_000011530241MediumHowever, we also know from history that either the preceding or following months can also suffer with lower than acceptable performance and when we analyse this we cannot attribute it to any specific seasonal factor, other than …. “Our salespeople have taken their foot off the gas and it will take a few weeks to get back up to speed”. Or the blame game version “Our customers are still on vacation” or even, the market isn’t buying!

On the theme of vacations, why is it that the salesperson is surprised when the deal they were waiting on, you know the one, the big one, the dead cert, the one that was going to make his year, stops dead in its tracks! As a result the sales number is missed big time and when challenged, the response is, “the decision maker has gone on vacation”. Why didn’t we know that this was likely to happen? It’s vacation season after all!

So why don’t we take the time to ask the questions that would help us understand the buying process steps along with its twists and turns, or invest in advance in the selling activities that will help stop these periods from being problematic? A classic case is summer vacations and post-summer “Back to School” periods.

Why is it that in B2B selling we don’t routinely invest in making sure our sales teams are refreshed, renewed and refocused for when they get back from their summer vacation? Or use the tools that we use at other times of the year to manage the pipeline flow effectively or use the skills we’ve been taught over and over to be able to ask the awkward questions?

#justsaying

Been busy !

A short announcement ! 

I’m back. Yes, the blog is back up and running. It’s been so busy the last couple of years that I neglected to maintain the blog. A cardinal sin I know. But one that is now corrected. The reason for the absence? I ended up being on so many different social media platforms that It became impossible to maintain sensibly and have a life at the same time. So I all but stopped the maintenance. I actually decided to leave a couple of platforms that I found particularly annoying. 

As a result, I’ve re-assessed my digital persona over the last few months and have whittled down my cyber presence to the platforms that I find most interesting, least annoying and of course, easy to use.

So this version is designed to mainly just share “stuff” that I think is interesting, newsworthy, funny or potentially useful to others. Of course, there is normally a business theme to the things I think of as interesting, as business is a big part of who I am. However, not every post will be immediately obvious as part of that theme. You may have to search around a bit to make the connection. Sometimes there might not be a connection.

“Stuff” includes unique thoughts of my own, insights I’ve picked up from others, observations that I make whilst tending to my professional life, things I like that I think you might like as well and of course various photo’s and links to music/videos.

Please feel free to comment, interact and connect