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2016 – What’s the plan?

If you have been reading me for a while you know January is the time of the year I write a little ditty about annual achievement plans.  Holding to the underlying principle that it’s always best to start at the beginning:

The first and most important thing about goals is having one. 

Geoffrey Albery

OK – I bet all businesses have established goals for 2016.  Good start.  What’s next?  Well, in the market today I’ve noticed there is a big emphasis (perhaps even an over emphasis) on all things “strategic”.  Strategic goals; strategic planning; strategic consulting; lots of strategic-oriented business activities out there, true?

Add to this the hyperbole around performance management software; dashboards; key performance indicators; predictive analytics; and while some companies are bathing in metrics, their competition is eating their lunch.

I’ve observed with the really great companies there is something more than just putting a business plan and performance management software in place every year.  I believe great companies add two more elements to their business planning process – underlying principles and tactical execution.

One of the great CEO’s I reference often, Josh Weston (now retired from ADP) used to say, “Let me address the second one first.”  In leading ADP from $350 Million to over $8 Billion in annual revenue, he and his leadership team leveraged tactical execution as a key, complimentary activity to their annual business planning process.  They called it the “Ops Review”.

Operations reviews – a “deep-dive” into how the tactical execution at a region-by-region; department-by-department; sales-rep by sales-rep level was unfolding.  At ADP, it was the tactical execution of their strategic plan that made the difference.  Josh used to say at every monthly Ops Review, “We are now one month smarter about reaching our annual goals.”

Performance tracking in the market today is nothing new – the software tools we sell for it might be – but not the tactical execution.  And excellence in the tactical execution of our strategic plan is a force-multiplier.

Of course, one challenge that gets in the way of this force-multiplier is the availability of performance data – lots and lots of data – “big data” as it is touted.  This challenge was acknowledged at a recent performance management software webinar I attended recently,

Time is scarce; information is endless. 

What can we learn from the great companies on how to deal with today’s “big data”?

Well, there is a second force-multiplier” for our business planning process – the power of underlying principles.   Frank Hayes, writer for ComputerWorld magazine, once offered evidence of the need for underlying principles:

Data isn’t information.

Information isn’t knowledge.

Knowledge isn’t manageable.

I suggest we add in the underlying principle of transparency to the tactical execution of our annual, strategic business plan.

Returning to ADP and the sales rituals I participated in during their growth years, we operated under a cadence of weekly sales performance results.  Transparency – percentage of quota; stack ranked; weekly – weekly (e.g. “no place to hide”).  Too much stress you say?

High achievers love to be measured … because otherwise they can’t prove to themselves that they’re achieving. 

Robert Nayce

Combining the principle of transparency with the principle of continuous improvement (aka “coaching”) forges the foundation of a championship team.

The breakfast of champions is not cereal.  It’s the opposition. 

Nick Seitz

Achievement in 2016 is a competitive endeavor.  To succeed, I’ll take the team that is battle-tested week in and week out; led by great mentors and coaches; all committed to excellent tactical execution.  How about you?

GAP

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Giving our best…

Football is my favorite sport.  A bit ironic I suppose, because football is the epitome of a time in my life that I did not give my best.  Actually, it was worse than that.  It was the one time in my competitive pursuits (in athletics or in business) that I quit.  I’ve lost many times; won my share too; quit once.

I quit my high school football team two weeks into the start of my junior year season.  It was the only time in my life that my Mom told me I disappointed her.  I can remember going into the head coach’s office to quit as if it was yesterday.  A bit ironic I suppose, because after being a starter and co-captain my freshman and sophomore years, I was not even planning to play my junior year.  I planned to focus on basketball.

The coach called and asked me to reconsider.  I agreed, but when I showed up I wasn’t prepared to give my best.  He and his coaches weren’t prepared to coach me up either.  At the age of sixteen, I decided that quitting was the only escape.  I’ve regretted it to this day.  A bit ironic I suppose – it’s not the not-playing that I regret; it’s the not giving my best.

I bet there have been special coaches and mentors who have had a positive impact on your life.  Coaches come in all shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of styles and techniques.  I bit ironic I suppose – some coaches resonate with us; some don’t.

Here’s a 6 minute movie clip about a high school, an underdog team, and their coach’s expectation about giving our best:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUKoKQlEC4

Probably not a technique that transfers into the business world today – but his message does, true?  Yes, the sporting world is different than the business world.  Nonetheless, we don’t have to go it alone.  Even the best-of-the-best have coaches.

In business, our favorite, Unknown Sage offers this:

Common misconceptions about coaching in the marketplace: 

“Coaching is primarily for correcting behavior” – If we only coach people when they do something wrong, we have missed the point. It’s about building not fixing.

“Coaching requires giving up power and control” – The manager relies more on influence. The person is still accountable.

“Coaching takes too much time” – Coaching takes too much time if you don’t do enough of it and you don’t do it correctly.

“Coaching is soft stuff” – The manager who avoids soft stuff usually does so because it is so hard. The work is easy; people are difficult.

“Coaching is laissez-faire management” – Freedom in the workplace, actually just about anywhere, is rooted in strict discipline.

“Coaching is simply being a good cheerleader” – A good manager has the courage and inner strength when needed to tell people the truth.

“Coaching is like therapy” – To be a good manager and coach one does need a basic understanding of human behavior and motivation, but therapy has no place in your relationship with the people you are leading.

Coaches enjoy occasional accolades, too.  The best I ever heard was a tribute to Bum Phillips, head coach of the then, Houston Oilers.  It was once said of Bum:

He could take his and beat yours – and then he could take yours and beat his. 

A bit ironic I suppose, but his players had no quit.  They gave him their best.  Imagine – what could we accomplish today if we just committed to giving our best?

GAP

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Hyped Performance…

I recently wrote a little ditty about high performance, see http://thequoteguys.com/2015/04/high-performance/  Excellence in performance is a wonderful thing to behold in the workplace; in the classroom; on the field of competition, isn’t it?  And when we get to see the best of the best during our lifetime, it’s awesome!

However… in these modern times sometimes performance gets a bit hyped.  “Best in our lifetime” is different than “Greatest of all time”, true?  I’m OK with such a designation as long as there is evidence.  But what “evidence”?

In business, we often work for companies that claim being “the biggest”; “the best”; “the first”; “the leader”.  But based on what evidence?

How about the sales profession?  I have a personal list of my sales “Hall of Famers”, but I must admit my evidence is subjective.  Plus, I’m only familiar with a sliver of successful sales professionals.  Again, what is the evidence used for comparison?

Of course, the sporting world is renowned for hyperbole around the “Greatest of all time”.  Take the NBA; is LeBron James the greatest player of all time?  Michael Jordan?  Well, let’s look at the evidence.  If we use NBA Championships, LeBron’s next ring will give him a total of 3; not even making the list of the Top 27.  Michael Jordan’s 6 rings are 2 behind Tom Heinsohn and 5 behind Bill Russell, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NBA_players_with_most_championships#List

Well, maybe individual scoring should be the evidence.  Sorry LeBron fans; he doesn’t crack the Top 25.  And Michael Jordan?  He has 2 seasons in the Top 10 of all time.  But Wilt Chamberlin has 5 seasons in the Top 10, including 1 – 3, and in Wilt’s 1961-1962, all-time scoring season he averaged 50 points per game – averaged!

Triple-doubles is better evidence you say?  OK, LeBron has passed Michael in that category, with 36 games vs. 28 games of triple-double performance.  And we can pretend that makes LeBron the “Greatest of all time”.  Except for Oscar Robertson’s 181 games with a triple-double performance.  In fact, according to Sports City:

1961-62, Oscar Robertson, while playing for the Cincinnati Royals averaged a triple-double over the entire season. He averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. Robertson is the only player to ever accomplish this.

No worries – when there is an absence of evidence, we can still be entertained by simply pretending hyped performance is synonymous with greatness:

Former NBA center and coach Johnny Kerr said his biggest test as a coach came when he coached the then-expansion team the Chicago Bulls and his biggest player was 6’8″ Erwin Mueller.

We had lost seven in a row and I decided to give a psychological pep talk before a game with the Celtics, Kerr said.  I told Bob Boozer to go out and pretend he was the best scorer in basketball.  I told Jerry Sloan to pretend he was the best defensive guard.  I told Guy Rodgers to pretend he could run an offense better than any other guard, and I told Erwin Mueller to pretend he was the best rebounding, shot-blocking, scoring center in the game.  We lost the game by 17. 

I was pacing around the locker room afterward trying to figure out what to say when Mueller walked up, put his arm around me, and said, “Don’t worry about it Coach.  Just pretend we won.” 

James S. Hewett

I don’t know who the “Greatest of all time” is in any field.  But I do enjoy the entertainment associated with hyped-performance arguments, LOL!

GAP

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High Performance…

I enjoy observing and commenting on the parallels between sports performance and business performance.    April is a particularly active sports month – the University of Kentucky marching through “March Madness” with the prospects of completing a perfect season; the first major golf tournament of the year, The Masters; NBA and NHL playoffs; the start of Major League Baseball; very active.   And who can overlook NASCAR’s continuing race schedule, including the Duck Commander 500 April 11th at the Texas Motor Speedway?

The thing I like best about sports (and business) competition is the competition:

I’ve been up against tough competition all my life.  I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.  

Walt Disney

Of course in today’s sports world, we seem to be continuously inundated with the philosophy attributed to former professional wrestler Eddie Guerrero, “If you’re not cheating you’re not trying.”  Winning at any cost is not an admirable trait we should carry over into the business world, is it?  Yet, in the business world we occasionally see this approach; it’s even advocated in popular business books such as Inside the Tornado ©:

Some of the essential principals of tornado marketing:

1. Attack the competition ruthlessly.

2. Expand your distribution channel as fast as possible.

3. Ignore the customers.

Geoffrey Moore

I’m OK with points 1 and 2; it’s #3 that I take issue with; our customers take issue with it too!

Nonetheless, what I like best about high performance in the business world are the high performances from talented contributors in “average” roles.  Here’s one of my favorites (slightly condensed) from another popular business book, First Break All the Rules ©:

Jean P’s story illustrates both the irrelevance of average and the growth potential of talent.  

For data entry roles, the national performance average is 380,000 keypunches per month, or 19,000 per day.  Many companies use an average performance measure like this to determine how many data entry employees they need to hire…

… the top-performing data entry employees make a mockery of the national average.

Jean P. is one such employee.  When she was first measured, she averaged 560,000 punches per month – already 50 percent above the national average.  She was recognized (by her manager) for her performance…

Three months later she hit a million keypunches…  A couple of weeks (later), Jean checked… and saw that she had managed 112,000 keypunches in one day…     (She and her manager) put a plan together, and six months later she soared past 2 million.

Jean became a model for her role.  Her manager spent time watching her, asking her why she loved her work so much…  He designed a talent profile to find more like her and a compensation plan to reward her excellence.  Today, Jean’s personal best is 3,526,000 keypunches in a month, and the average of all the data entry employees working around her is over a million. 

Marcus Buckingham

Again, the national average in Jean’s field was 380,000 keypunches per month.  How would you like to have that level of high performance in your company (or attain that performance in your position)?  Jean’s performance is the epitome of competitive excellence, true?

All of the great companies in the world out-execute their competition day in and day out. 

Price Pritchett

Yes, high performance is a wonderful thing to observe – in sports competition and in business competition.

Our competition got me out of bed in the morning; paranoia is a wonderful motivator. 

Scott Deeter

OK everyone – rise and shine J  Especially the shine part!

GAP

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Committed?

I’m a Denver Broncos football fanatic.  This of course means, I’m in morning over the way our season abruptly ended in defeat.  Beat handily by the Indianapolis Colts, who were subsequently pummeled by the New England Patriots – we were clearly not the elite team that we thought we were.

It reminded me of a key leadership message delivered at our 2015 sales kick-off meeting:

Complacency kills opportunities for success.

Were the Denver Broncos complacent?  Maybe not exactly.  I think their demise can be attributed to something else – something worse.  The same something worse that can happen at a company.

As it turns out… the leaders of the Denver Broncos were engaged in the pursuit of next year’s opportunities vs. remaining focused on this year.  It was reported that the EVP of Football Operations (John Elway) and the Head Coach (John Fox) were “not in sync”; “mutually agreed to separate”.  Actually, it was worse than that.  They were not committed!

Leadership commitment rolls downhill, don’t you think?  Elway was not committed to Fox; therefore, Fox’s Offensive Coordinator (Adam Gase) and Defensive Coordinator (Jack Del Rio) lacked commitment – which they reciprocated by poorly preparing their players for the Divisional Playoff – and the players portrayed what non-committed playing looks like.

Leadership commitment – we can all feel the presence; or absence; of leadership commitment, can’t we?  I suppose it originates from the old adage:

In a ham and egg breakfast, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. 

Unknown Sage

The Denver Broncos leaders were “involved” in their Divisional Playoff game, as were their players.  But they were not committed.  And the lack of commitment, closely related to complacency, infected the entire organization.  That day – they were beaten.

At the start of our 2015 sales year, my company’s leadership warned of “complacency”; closely related to “commitment”.  Not just whether our leaders are committed.  In business like football, a company’s success is attributed to everyone’s commitment, true?

Contrast the Denver Broncos debacle with miraculous come-from-way-behind-victory the Seattle Seahawks accomplished in their Divisional Championship game.  Although their quarterback (aka, “field general”) Russell Wilson threw four interceptions, his teammates refused to lose.  I say again – his teammates refused to lose!

It’s one of the reasons I coach sales professionals to “hunt as a pack”.  The Steve Jobs’, miraculous Apple rescue aside, trying to win in business today from the efforts of a singular, super star, hero comes with a corresponding “Hail Mary” chance of success.

Back to football; according to Wikipedia:

A Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass in American football, made in desperation with only a small chance of success,… 

The term became widespread after a December 28, 1975 NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (a Roman Catholic) said about his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”

Yes, business requires risk-taking.  And it’s true that not every business risk can have a successful outcome.  But dealing with business risk should be at a far distance from relying on a Hail Mary.

I prefer to rely on a group of people (aka “the pack”); united in a common cause (aka 2015 goals); helping each other recover from interceptions (aka “occasional mistakes”); all the while portraying a zeal for success (aka commitment!).  I believe my teammates (and our leaders) refuse to lose in 2015.  Because of this commitment it will be a very good year.  Yours?

GAP

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And what do you do?

My company has been hiring lots of people.  We used to do quarterly new hire receptions.  Lately, our receptions have been less frequent – everyone is so busy helping the company grow I suppose.

So now I meet a new employee or two each week casually – a new face by the coffee machine; or someone sitting in the lunchroom I don’t recognize.  We have a terrific company culture.  People are very friendly – it’s easy to meet and exchange introductions.

My little known secret is they have no clue the amusement I enjoy during these brief “Hellos”.  It’s the usual ritual.  They tell me their name; what role they’ve been hired into; and who their manager is.  (I like to see if I know their manager, as a way to keep track of who’s who in the zoo.)  Then it’s the same, “And Gary, what do you do?”  Let my game begin!

I offer some vague response like, “I’m an enablement manager”; or “I’m in the channel”.  Rarely does the new hire clarify my vagueness.  It’s a personal market test – you see, I believe in the sales profession today, specificity is a killer application.  The more skilled we are as sales professionals in our ability to cut through vagueness, the more we (A) differentiate ourselves from our competitors, and (B) get to a more clear understanding of our prospects.

Now I’m not a prospect for our new hires, however I like to observe how they react to vague responses because, T. Harv Eker reminds us:

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Of course, I have a second, ulterior motive for vaguely telling my fellow employees what I do.  These brief interactions remind of my Dad.  He was a widower for 34 years.  And, he wasn’t much of a cook.  So he ate dinner at the hospital cafeteria near his house (where my Mom died) almost every night – for over 30 years.

The hospital employees became so used to seeing my Dad in the cafeteria; they started inviting him to their company picnics each summer.   What a delight for my Dad!  A social engagement; with many of his acquaintances; someone barbequing for him; raffle prizes; all FREE!  He laughed every year he told me about it, “Gary, they think I work here!”

When I would scold my Dad for the masquerade, he would protest, “I never said I was an employee – they just assumed I am because I’ve been going to the cafeteria longer than they have worked there.  No one ever asked me specifically about my job.”

The topper came during the last two company picnics he attended before his health failed and he moved into an assisted living facility.  (Still preferring someone to cook for him!)  Over my annual protest, he attended the hospital’s picnic and he won a door prize – a Weber Grill nonetheless!  He wanted me to take it (because you already know he wouldn’t use it).  I think he gave it to his neighbor.

At his last company picnic, he won the grand prize – a TV.  That prize he gladly moved with him to his new apartment.  The hospital never knew that they had invited an outsider to their employee picnic for all those years.  Oh well, it was a great cause and most appreciated by the Pokorn family.

So come on everyone, don’t let your prospects; or me; or anyone for that matter; get away with vagueness.  You may just wind up cooking for us.

GAP

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Context…

So, I am leading this “sales training class”.  Context?  My participants are experienced, successful business people.  My worry?  The term “sales training” can conjure up all sorts of concerns – including “a waste of time”.  Hopefully, they have not moved beyond the philosophies of the original sales masters:

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. 

Zig Ziglar

Adding to my dilemma (and their “fun”) the class runs for 3 days.  Three days; from 8am to 5pm; homework each evening; no mid-morning or mid-day breaks; working lunches.  And, although I cannot prevent mobile, multi-tasking throughout the day – I’m willing to compete for my participants’ participation.

You might wonder:  How can I possibly keep a class of senior, successful sales people fully engaged for such a prolonged period of time?  Well, permit me to add a bit more context – because the primary message I deliver in the class is all about the concepts of context.

Sales training:  Actually, the class is a practice session.  You see, from the context of selling skills, it doesn’t matter “what I got”.  What matters is “what they got”.  If I can help what they got even a little, then I have done my job.  “Helping them” is fashioned after the most successful people I can think of (although tempered a bit to remain in the appropriate context of our profession):

Al McGuire, former head basketball coach of Marquette University, once said, “A team should be an extension of the coach’s personality.  My teams were arrogant and obnoxious.”

Waste of time:  The attendees are actually my clients.  They have literally paid a few thousand dollars to join me in Denver.  Before they leave, it is my responsibility to insure they get their money’s worth.  Taking breaks; stopping for lunch; free evenings?  We “run” within the context of a different psychology:

“PACE”… 

Notice that in the mile we do not allow for much of a slowing down of the pace in the third quarter.  We certainly realize that at this point in the race there is great difficulty in maintaining the tempo and many coaches feel this is the proper time to rest.  We feel it is essential to maintain the pace at this time and that quite often the slowing down is merely a psychological thing. 

Joe Newton

Experienced Sales People:  Yes, but experienced in what context?  The challenge many senior, successful sales people have today is adapting to how “modern buyers buy”.  Most participants I work with gained their knowledge and skills last century!  For instance, I too owned a Motorola “brick phone” in 1990.  But that cellular technology experience no longer applies in 2014, true?

Success:  As defined by what?  I mean, how “successful” have I been given the fact that I’m still practicing and trying to perfect my selling skills?  After plying my trade for literally 40 years, I’m still striving to learn how to win every day – every deal.  However, let’s put “failure” in context:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan

So, when my boss asks, “How did class go?”  I can take a literal interpretation and respond, “Well, nobody quit and nobody got hurt” 🙂  Which in a certain context is called “Success”!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

 

No Excuse…

“Sorry I’m late.  My meeting ran over.”  “No, I didn’t get a chance to review your CRM notes.”  “I can’t join you on the WebEx, I’ve dialed in from my cell phone.”  “Yes, that’s me typing in the background – give me a moment, I’m just sending a quick email.”  “Please excuse me – I need to leave early for another meeting.”

Late; unprepared; multi-tasking; mobile; double-booked.  Welcome to the 21st Century.

Perhaps it should be of no surprise that according to one research report, 79% of sales reps in the Software-as-a-Service marketplace did not attain their assigned quota in 2013; 79%!  (See xactly)

Today, there is no lack of professionalism displayed by Sales Professionals.  Arriving late; leaving early; being unprepared; not returning calls or emails.  (By the way, these behaviors are not unique to sales people, true?)  And when called out on such unprofessionalism – excuses flow – see paragraph one.  What’s that?  Life is tough so everybody else does it too?

Life is difficult.  This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we know that life is difficult – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. 

M. Scott Peck

Make sense to you?  Ahh, trick question: if it makes sense, then you have no excuse.

I believe as a Sales Professional, it is our role to maintain professionalism in spite of any unprofessionalism by those around us.  Easy to say – hard to do.  Yet the problem with bad behavior on the part of one Sales Professional is it casts aspersions on all Sales Professionals in our profession, don’t you agree?  Yep, trick question: if you agree, then you have no excuse.

Ever notice when someone you’re interacting with makes a mistake; they often serve up an immediate excuse?  “Gary, it wasn’t my fault because (insert story de jour…).”  Rather than simply admitting the mistake; apologizing for any inconvenience; and offering to do better going forward, we hear about their medical condition, their children’s problems at school, their financial stress, their boss is a jerk, etc.

Difficulty may stimulate excuses from others; but as Sales Professionals we must follow Edward R. Murrow’s guidance:

Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.

And I know the folks I work with are telling the truth.  I know this because when I’m going through the exact same circumstances I’d like to succumb to the difficulties of the day too; become equally unprofessional; make excuses.  But what can one do about it?

Well, to stop such temptation, I find retreating to loud; head-banging; heavy metal music seems to help.   Thank God for Pandora!  Here’s one example from my favorite Friday band – Five Finger Death Punch:

Everybody hurts

     Everybody bleeds…

          Everybody pains

              Everybody grieves…

Can you relate to head bangers?  You got it, trick question: if you can, then you have no excuse.

Yes, it is the 21st Century.  And in this modern world everybody multi-tasks; works extended hours; has stress at the office; pressures at home; and clients that can be jerks (sometimes our managers too).  But we overcome these difficulties, because in the words of Abraham Lincoln:

The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.

Does Abe’s reasoning resonate with you?  Beware – trick question: if it does, then you have no excuse.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Sales Performance – Part 1…

Competitive performance (especially sales performance) is one of my favorite topics to study.  You know the discussion:  Is LeBron James the greatest basketball player ever?  Is Michael Jordan?  Is Bill Russell?  Who’s the greatest golfer of all time?  Yep, topics right up there with what’s the key to getting a sales rep to excel?

And in the sales profession we like to add: How can we get all of our sales reps to excel?  And while we’re at it – How can we smooth out their performance peaks and valleys?  How can get them to forecast accurately?  How can we get them to use our CRM?  Lots to study in our profession; lots to discuss.

It reminds me of when I was a young father and would take my son to the practice golf range.  My Dad liked to join us – not to practice, but he loved to watch.  He loved to coach too.  In fact, every time one of us hit a poor practice shot he would ask, “What happened with that one?”  Every time; every poor practice shot.  I stopped inviting him – he was taking the fun out of practice.

Taking the fun out; hmmm; could this apply to sales performance?

I attended a sales best practices webinar recently, sponsored by Hoopla (www.hoopla.net).  Now I’m not much of a gamer, but I’m pretty sure Hoopla offers a gamification application to attach to your CRM.

I’m not much for “gamification” either; encouraging sales managers to resort to technology and entertainment to try to make their sales reps perform.  What – if we can’t prod our people through 7×24, CRM inspection, and daily forecast updates, maybe we can lull them into success with a game?  Let’s look at every activity; every sales rep does; every day – and publish it team-wide and company-wide so everyone can see who is performing and who is not.  Fun.

To entice attendance, Hoopla offered a free copy of the “2014 Sales Performance Optimization” report published by CSO Insights (www.csoinsights.com).   List price for this report is $1,495.  Quite the enticement for attending a free webinar, don’t you think?  Or could it be that a company can gamify “list price”?  I find that entertaining! 

Well, they really didn’t have to “gamify” me to get me to hear the discussion about their research.  As I listened to their presentation and read their report it occurred to me that there is lots of focus on “every shot by every golfer” in the sales profession today.  Might Stephen R. Covey question such an approach?

Avoid the ladder against the wrong wall syndrome: 

Meaning, we climb the proverbial ladder of success only to find that it’s leaning against the wrong wall. 

OK; you might want to discuss, “Gary, what do we do to improve the performance of our sales reps?”  Well, I hope it won’t be too “gamificationy” of me, but I will answer this specific question in my next post, “Sales Performance – Part 2”.

The least I can do is offer you a preview.  You see, I don’t believe the key to sales performance excellence lies with your sales people!

Now don’t get me wrong; I like my sales people.  I have enjoyed working with and learning from some of the smartest, nicest, most skilled, and most successful sales people in the industry during my career.

But the right wall for our sales performance ladder is not the one labeled “people”.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Giving our best…

I love football – it’s my favorite sport.  A bit ironic I suppose, because football is the epitome of a time in my life that I did not give my best.  Actually, it was worse than that; it was one time that I quit.

I quit my high school football team two weeks into the start of the season.  It was the only time in my life that my Mom told me I disappointed her. I can remember going into the head coach’s office to quit as if it just took place yesterday.  A bit ironic I suppose, because after being a starter and co-captain my freshman and sophomore years, I was not even going to go out for the team my junior year.   The coach called me over the summer and asked me to reconsider.

I acknowledged his request, but when I showed up I wasn’t prepared to give my best.  And the coaches weren’t prepared to coach me up.  Somehow I decided that quitting was the only escape.  I’ve regretted it ever since.  A bit ironic I suppose – it’s not the not-playing that I regret; it’s the not giving my best.

I bet there have been special coaches, mentors, and managers who have had a positive impact on your life.  Coaches come in all shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of styles and techniques.  I bit ironic I suppose – some coaches resonate with us; some don’t.

Here’s a 6 minute video clip about a high school, underdog football team, their coach, and his expectation to giving our best:

http://youtu.be/-vB59PkB0eQ

Probably not a technique that transfers into the business world, but his message does, doesn’t it?  A bit ironic I suppose – coaches aren’t magicians – we must help them help us.  And in return for their knowledge, enthusiasm, and time; they only ask we give our best.

In business, our favorite, Unknown Sage offers:

Common misconceptions about coaching in the marketplace: 

  • “Coaching is primarily for correcting behavior” – If we only coach people when they do something wrong, we have missed the point.  It’s about building not fixing.
  • “Coaching requires giving up power and control” – The manager relies more on influence. The person is still accountable.
  • “Coaching takes too much time” – Coaching takes too much time if you don’t do enough of it and you don’t do it correctly.
  • “Coaching is soft stuff” – The manager who avoids soft stuff usually does so because it is so hard.  The work is easy; people are difficult.
  • “Coaching is laissez-faire management” – Freedom in the workplace, actually just about anywhere, is rooted in strict discipline.
  • “Coaching is simply being a good cheerleader” – A good manager has the courage and inner strength when needed to tell people the truth.
  • “Coaching is like therapy” – To be a good manager and coach one does need a basic understanding of human behavior and motivation, but therapy has no place in your relationship with the people you are leading.

Coaches enjoy occasional accolades, too.  The best I ever heard was a tribute to Bum Phillips, head coach of the then, Houston Oilers.  It was once said of Bum:

He could take his and beat yours – and then he could take yours and beat his. 

A bit ironic I suppose, but they gave their best to him.  It’s a good idea to find a coach to help us commit to giving our best too, yes?

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.