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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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Let me elaborate…

In my last post I wrote a little ditty as I traveled to Boston to work with one of my clients.  Last week, I had a dozen clients travel to Denver to work with me.  And, they paid to attend my “training class” to boot!  Did they experience anything “Different”?

My last post was a summary of my self-reflection on what makes me “different” (see http://thequoteguys.com/2015/08/whats-different/ ).  I asked at the same time for you to pause for a moment and address, “What makes you different?”  Did you?  Did you take a moment to crystalize exactly what makes you; your product/service; and your company “Different” in the eye of your customers?  No?  Too busy?  Well:

Many receive advice.  Only the wise profit from it. 

Publilius Syms

Today – permit me to elaborate.

“I’m a pretty good talker, but I’m even a better listener.  And boy – do I love to talk!”

Courtor’s Rule:

If people listened to themselves more often, they would talk less. 

Unknown Sage

(I’m still working on this rule.)

“I’m a pretty good listener, but I’m even better at remembering.”

What I say may not matter but what the client says always matters:

We hear only half of what is said to us, understand only half of that, believe only half of that, and remember only half of that. 

Mignon McLaughlin

“I’m pretty good strategically with the “big picture”, but I’m even better tactically with identifying the myriad of details.”

Pay fantastic attention to detail.  What details get in the way of our being easy to do business with? 

Tom Connellan

“I’m a pretty good presenter, but I’m even a better problem solver.”

The hardest problems get solved last. 

Frank Hayes

“I’m pretty good at committing to being prompt, but I’m even better at arriving prepared.”

Average sales people like to wing it. Champions like to make money.  So they don’t wing it – they prepare.  Intensively. 

Tom Hopkins

“I’m a pretty good leader, but I’m an even better follower.”

People don’t at first follow worthy causes.  They follow worthy leaders who promote worthy causes. 

John C. Maxwell

“I’m pretty good at positioning my company competitively, but I’m even better at acknowledging the “reality of multiple solutions” each client has.”

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

Scott Deeter

“I’m pretty good at orchestrating a sales-cycle, but I’m even better helping my clients’ coordinate their evaluation process.”

Sell the way the customer buys and allocate your resources accordingly. 

Rick Page

“I’m pretty good at overcoming objections, but I’m even better at identifying client fantasies that no vendor and no product can address.”

Reality is that stuff which, no matter what you believe, just won’t go away. 

David Paktor

“I’m pretty good at negotiating price, but I’m even better at helping my clients clarify the value.”

To assess your added value, you have to put yourself in the other player’s shoes and ask what you bring to them. 

Barry J. Nalebuff

At last week’s class, I wasn’t sharing stuff I know because I always knew that stuff.  I was simply re-telling what I’ve learned along the way from these wise people named above and untold others.  Was my clients’ experience with me “Different” than all the other classes they’ve attended led by all of the other instructors who attempted to instruct them?  What do I know?

Only the customer can tell.  Was the class successful?  Well, no one quit; no one got hurt; I’m calling it a win!

GAP

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Planning to fail…

I attended a Proformative.com presentation recently by Patrick Stroh, President of Mercury Business Advisors entitled: Business Strategy & Leadership: Plan, Execute, Win!  (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh2qQeXaXMg).  I was intrigued by the executive role at companies today called the Chief Strategy Officer.

The most intriguing part of Patrick’s presentation was his review of the planning tool and process known as FMEA: Failure Mode Effect Analysis.  Hmmm planning to fail?  Tell me more.

Patrick Stroh offered that FMEA originated in the 1940’s during World War Two, in battle planning mode.  Then FMEA morphed to NASA and the space program.  And today exists (or at least, should exist) in the business community.

My summary understanding of the topic is the need to plan in advance for all of the possible bad things that can (and likely will) happen during an initiative because once the initiative commences, there is no time to start the planning process on how to react to the failure points if they arise.

This makes obvious sense when we think about the space probes we build and program on earth and then hurtle millions of miles into space.  Once launched, our only control is through (delayed) communications.  Once in space, NASA can only transmit software commands to address issues.  They don’t have any ability to retrofit physical repairs or replace things that wear out or are damaged in flight.  If they didn’t think about these possible failure points in advance, the entire mission (and tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars) would be lost.

This type of advanced planning with a failure-avoidance orientation makes me think about my profession – selling software.

Weinberg’s Law:

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization. 

Gerald M. Weinberg

Throughout my career I continue to be amazed at how customers (and sales reps) focus more on negotiating a purchase price vs. going through all of the little implementation and upgrade intricacies that can (and usually do) fail.  We prefer to pay big bucks to our attorneys for contract negotiations just in case the project fails vs. entering into focused project planning in the sales cycle.   I suppose if the project fails at least the attorneys’ fees are covered.

I believe in the marketplace today the customer values a sales rep’s project planning skills more than the rep’s selling skills.  But that’s just me I guess.

When implementing or upgrading business systems it’s almost a surprise if a project goes well, isn’t it?  Does this sound at all familiar?

The stages of Systems Development: 

1. Wild enthusiasm

2. Disillusionment

3. Total confusion

4. Search for the guilty

5. Punishment of the innocent

6. Promotion of the non-participants

Arthur Black

Nope – no FMEA done here.

I get it – implementing new systems is complicated.  Getting our people to adopt new processes takes a huge effort.  The thing is; many of the pot holes projects run over are the same pot holes the same projects have been running over for as long as I can remember.  Maybe a little FMEA vs. attorney time would offer a better ROI, true?

Blunderware    

Hello, thank you for calling Application Consolidation Services.  We’re sorry for the problem s you’re having.  We know you’re sorry for buying the software in the first place.  We feel your pain.  But that’s life.  Please hold. 

CIO Magazine 5/15/1997

Selling software successfully doesn’t have to be rocket science; but FMEA shows we can learn a little from the space program.

GAP

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Success = P x 4

Welcome to the next year everyone!  Is it a “new”, next year for you?  Or, are you still striving to make your fiscal 2014/2015 a success within the next few months?   For my beloved Denver Broncos, they’re still working on making 2014 a successful year.  Is your favorite NFL Team still striving?  Or are they like my beloved Chicago Cubs – “waiting until next year?”

I bet my Denver Broncos are applying the “Success = P x 4” formula.  What is your formula for success in 2015?  Do you have a formula?  See my point?

The Broncos’ formula for success probably looks something like this:

Success = Planning + Preparation + Practice + Performance

How many hours do you think the average NFL coaching staff puts into developing their team’s game plan for each of their 16 regular season games, let alone each of their playoff games?  How many hours have you put into developing your 2015 Success Plan?  See my point?

First Rule of Business:

Having a detailed business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but not having one guarantees failure.  

Unknown Sage

If you imagine an NFL game as something similar to one of our “big presentations” or “big deals”, how many hours do you think Peyton Manning puts into his game preparation?  How many hours did you put into the preparation for your last “big presentation” and/or “big deal”?  Less?  See my point?

Prepare:

It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. 

Howard Ruff

If you imagine a prospect’s competitive evaluation process, pitting one vendor against another, as something similar to a competitive NFL game; how many hours do you think the Denver Broncos team practices their game plan and their individual preparation before each competition?  How many hours do you and your teammates practice before facing your prospect’s competitive vendor comparison process?  See my point?

At anything you choose to do, you’ll be as good as the practice, drill, and rehearsal you go through before you actually perform the action. 

Tom Hopkins

And even with their hours and hours of game planning, preparation, and team-practice, what are the odds that the Denver Broncos will have the winning performance in each of their games – regular season, playoffs, or possibly even the Super Bowl?  Just because performance trumps planning, preparation and practice, do you think any professional team would forgo 3 of the P’s and only focus on the 4th P?  Do you?  See my point?

It’s how you show up at the showdown that counts. 

Homer Norton

And beyond business, how many of us write a personal achievement plan each year that balances business with other important elements of our lives?

Acheivement_Plan_Quads-010415

If our business and financial success is important enough to write an annual “business plan”; are our family; our personal development; and our lifelong fulfillment dreams any less important?  Do you have a written achievement plan for 2015?  No?  What are you waiting for?  See my point?

ACTION:

Having the world’s best idea will do you no good unless you act on it.  People who want milk shouldn’t sit on a stool in the middle of a field in hopes that a cow will back up to them.

Curtis Grant

Do you know how to write a balanced plan?  If not – ping me.  I’ll send you “How To: Writing My Annual Achievement Plan” templates and paint-by-numbers instructions.

The greatest secret of success in life is for a person to be ready when their opportunity comes.

Benjamin Disraeli

See my point?

GAP

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2014 – A year of Fulfillment?

Welcome to the New Year!  Will it be our best year yet?  I must admit, mine started off pretty darn good – I checked off one of my lifetime fantasies on January 1st – I attended the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California.  Watched it on TV for as long as I can remember – always wanted to be there in person.  This year – I was – and it was awesome!

Of course when preparing for an excellent year, I always recommend starting at the beginning; in this case writing our 2014 Annual Achievement Plan.  Planning our year is more than simply thinking about a few goals.  Unwritten goals without corresponding milestones are just “hope”, and as the business book title suggests, Hope is not a Strategy©:

http://thequoteguys.com/2011/01/1st-rule-of-personal-business/

Nonetheless, our 2014 Achievement Plan should start with a point of reference: 

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

Geoffrey Albery

Then, to advance our Plan we should write down our goals.  And when writing our goals, I believe it’s wise to incorporate the “Principle of Balance”:

Bus Plan quadrant

At work, many of us write business plans thinking only in terms of Financial Success, true?  Yes, Financial Success is important.  I remember while leading top sales teams, I would occasionally hear one of my Producers say that being Family oriented was more important.  I agree however, I also believe one of the best ways to care for my Family is to be successful.

Financial Success and Family are connected; but beyond finances, I believe in establishing personal goals for my Family role, too.  Writing down goals for our Family is quite personal – but just as important as any other quadrant in our Annual Achievement Plan.  Go on – take a moment to write down your 2014 goals for the role you will play with your Family; we’ll wait.

The importance of the Personal Development quadrant in our Plan is another key to success – as the business book title suggests, What got you here won’t get you there©.  Personal Development is personal; yet writing goals in our Personal Development quadrant reinforces the Principle of Balance.

Leading us to Fulfillment – Doug Larson put it this way:

Establishing goals is all right if you don’t let them deprive you of interesting detours.

Although I advocate writing an Annual Achievement Plan; with measurable goals; corresponding milestones; striving to make each year my best year.  I also believe in the power of imagination; the presence of magic; and the purpose of Fulfillment.

The idea came from a former colleague of mine, Peter Goodwin.  He believed in the annual planning process, but added a unique twist to his that I have since incorporated into mine.  Each year I write down lifetime fantasies that if I could be so blessed, I will achieve – like attending the Rose Bowl Parade!

And when I do realize the Fulfillment of one of my fantasies, I don’t check it off the list.  No, it remains on my Annual Achievement Plan with the date of Fulfillment; serving as a constant reminder of the power of fantasy; the presence of magic.  And it reinforces the Principle of Balance.

Go ahead – update your list of fantasies in the Fulfillment quadrant of your 2014 Plan.  And “DREAM BIG!” with these goals.  James Collins in his book, Built to Last©, called them:

Big, Hairy Audacious Goals!

So here’s to 2014 – may it be our best year yet!

GAP

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

Welcome to 2013…

What do you think?  Will this be “our year”?  Well if it is to be, then we better get going, OK?  I always advocate starting at the beginning; writing an Annual Achievement Plan.  In writing

It’s more than just thinking about it; or merely jotting down a few vague goals.  Goals without milestones are just “hope” as I wrote about in 2011 (see http://thequoteguys.com/2011/01/1st-rule-of-personal-business/

Writing our Annual Achievement Plan is important, so let’s get started: 

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

                                  Geoffrey Albery 

When writing out our 2013 plan, I believe it’s also wise to incorporate the “Principle of Balance”:

Many of us write “business plans” at our companies thinking only in terms of Financial Success, true?  Financial Success is important and it requires true commitment to achieve it.  Lottery tickets are probably not the wisest retirement investment strategy. 

I remember while leading a top sales team, I would occasionally hear one of my Producers say when he or she faced the crossroads of a good year vs. a bad year, that being “family-oriented” was what was most important to them.  Well, me too.  However, I believe a great way to care for my Family is to have Financial Success; you? 

OK, you get the Financial Success quadrant; let’s move on to Family.  Actually writing down personal goals for the role we play with our Family can easily be overlooked, true?  Certainly, the goals for our Family are quite personal – but this is just as important as any other quadrant in our Annual Achievement Plan; maybe more so.  Go on – take a few moments to write down your 2013 goals for your Family; we’ll wait. 

The importance of Personal Development in our plan should not be minimized either.  It is another key to success – whatever our abilities are today, we should strive to be better tomorrow, don’t you agree?  It could be as elaborate as pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree; or as straight-forward as reading one or two books each month.  Personal Development is personal; yet writing goals in the Personal Development quadrant reinforces the Principle of Balance. 

Leading us to Fulfillment.  Doug Larson put it this way: 

Establishing goals is all right if you don’t let them deprive you of interesting detours. 

Although I believe in writing an Annual Achievement Plan; with specific goals; measureable milestones; striving to make the New Year better than the previous; I also believe in the power of imagination; the presence of magic; and the wonderment of Fulfillment.  

The idea came from a former colleague of mine, Peter Goodwin.  He believed in the annual planning process too, but he added a unique twist to his that I have followed ever since.  Each year I write down lifetime dreams that if I could be so blessed, I will achieve.  And when I realize the Fulfillment of one of these dreams, I don’t cross it off my list.  No, it remains on my Annual Achievement Plan with the date of Fulfillment; serving as a constant reminder of the power of imagination; the presence of magic. 

OK then, go ahead and update your list of dreams in the Fulfillment quadrant of your 2013 Achievement Plan; we’ll wait.  And remember to DREAM BIG!  James Collins in his book, Built to Last©, called them: 

“Big, Hairy Audacious Goals!” 

Besides, 

            Who wants a dream that’s near-fetched? 

Howard Schultz

May 2013 be your best year yet! 

GAP 

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“4-A’s” and Aligned Principles…

We touched on Approach last week: 

            http://thequoteguys.com/2012/01/2012-a-year-of-fulfillment-2/ 

Today, permit me to share a few thoughts on the “4-A’s”: Approach; Activity; Ability; and Attitude, plus a few related Principles. 

I’ve noticed successful sales professionals take time to write out their annual business plan – their Approach to pursuing a successful year.  They consider it the first key to their sales success.  Successful Producers don’t “hope” to succeed – they plan to succeed. 

If you’ve read my previous posts about how to write an Achievement Plan, you know the importance placed on measurable tasks and observable milestones.  I learned this concept from the way Josh Weston led ADP during the 1980s and 1990s.  Through a quarterly “operating review” process, we all looked at our weekly and monthly performance results-to-date.  Josh liked to say we were three months smarter each time we looked at our milestones; still had time to adjust our Approach, if necessary. 

In the sales profession, a second key to success, I believe, is Activity.  Yep, I’m talking about good, old-fashion sales-prospecting.  With sales-prospecting, we can apply the Principle of Game Theory and the Principle of Personal Best to our Activity plan, too.  

The Principle of Game Theory means just that; treating sales-prospecting as a game.  Sometimes our prospects cooperate, other times they don’t.  It’s like some days we have stellar workouts at the gym; feel like we could go all day; get stronger as we go.  Other days?  We’re tired after our warm-up; lucky to get through a minimal workout.  But we still take pride in showing up, because: 

            Sometimes just showing up is half the battle. 

                          Unknown Sage 

And by “showing up” for sales-prospecting; putting in our reps; using the Principle of Game Theory; successful Producers maintain the level of Activity necessary to succeed. 

The Principle of Game Theory is closely aligned with the Principle of Personal Best.  We can learn about this principle from observing interviews with Olympic Athletes.  Even when they don’t win a medal, they are joyous with their performance when they are able to say that they accomplished a “Personal Best”, true?  It’s their pride in the Principle of Personal Best that leads to their unbelievable commitment to the work needed just to be an Olympian.  And Olympians are the epitome of athletic success, yes? 

Of course, Ability is a key to sales success, too.  Top Producers tend to be the most knowledgeable; the most able; usually the type of successful business professional that our prospects prefer to do business with.  Whatever our current level of Ability may be, the good news is we can always get better if we apply the Principle of Continuous Improvement, don’t you agree? 

And the Principle of Continuous Improvement is often linked to – Attitude.  The best of the best in the sales profession tend to have the most successful Attitude.  They are mentally committed to their profession; don’t waste time; remain focused; are psychologically tough.  

You may know some of them – their Attitude tends to stand out from the crowd.  They can be pleasant, but maybe not sociable.  They can be coached, but don’t want to be “managed”.  They are committed to learning, but find being “trained” a waste of their time.  Sound familiar? 

Attitude is the foundation that Approach, Activity and Ability are built on.  And I believe these 4-A’s are linked together by a set of aligned Principles that all of us can leverage for a successful 2012.  Bon Chance! 

GAP 

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2012 – A year of Fulfillment?

Welcome to the New Year!  Will it be our best ever?  Well if it is to be, then let’s get started, OK?  Let’s start at the beginning; with our annual plan.  

Of course, planning our year is more than simply writing down goals.  Goals without milestones are just “hope” as I wrote about last year: 

            http://thequoteguys.com/2011/01/1st-rule-of-personal-business/ 

Nonetheless, writing down our goals is an excellent starting point: 

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

                                  Geoffrey Albery 

When writing our goals, I believe it’s also wise to incorporate the “Principle of Balance”.  Here’s a picture with space for notes, if you’d like:  

 

Many of us write individual “business plans” thinking only in terms of Financial Success, true?  Yes, Financial Success is important; but do we have the commitment to achieve it?  I remember while leading a top sales team, I would occasionally hear one of my Producers say when he or she faced the crossroads of a good year vs. a bad year, that being Family oriented was what was most important to them.  Well, me too.  However, I believe one of the best ways to care for our Family is to be successful; you? 

OK, that covers Financial Success, and leads us to Family.  Establishing personal goals for the role we play with our Family can easily be overlooked, yes? Certainly, writing down goals for our Family is quite personal – but just as important as any other quadrant in our annual Achievement Plan, don’t you think?  Go on – take a moment to write down a few of your 2012 goals for the role you will play with your Family; we’ll wait. 

The importance of Personal Development in our Plan can also be minimized.  Yet, it remains another key to success – whatever our abilities today, we should continuously strive to be better tomorrow, don’t you agree?  It could be as elaborate as the Electrical Engineering degree my older son is pursuing; or as straight-forward as the 1-2 books each month my younger son reads.  Personal Development is personal; yet writing goals in the Personal Development quadrant reinforces the Principle of Balance. 

Leading us to Fulfillment.  Doug Larson put it this way: 

Establishing goals is all right if you don’t let them deprive you of interesting detours. 

Although I advocate writing an annual Achievement Plan; with measurable goals; corresponding milestones; striving to make the New Year better than the previous; … I also believe in the power of imagination; the presence of magic; and the purpose of Fulfillment

The idea came from a former colleague of mine, Peter Goodwin.     He also believed in the annual planning process, but he added a unique twist to his that I have since incorporated into mine.  Each year I write down lifetime dreams that if I could be so blessed, I will achieve.  And when I do realize the Fulfillment of one of these dreams, I don’t check it off the list.  No, it remains on my annual Achievement Plan with the date of Fulfillment; serving as a constant reminder of the power of imagination; the presence of magic. 

And it reinforces the Principle of Balance:                                   

Goals are dreams with deadlines.                                 

Diana Scharf-Hunt                     

OK then, go ahead and update your list of dreams in the Fulfillment quadrant of your 2012 Achievement Plan; we’ll wait.  And remember to DREAM BIG!  James Collins in his book, Built to Last, called them “Big, Hairy Audacious Goals!” 

GAP 

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Showing up and Throwing up…

You’re right – let’s chat about sales presentations.  

During our sales careers, we have often heard the cautionary statement, “don’t just show up and throw up”, haven’t we?  According to the accepted wisdom in our industry, when we just “show up and throw up” – we “blow up”. 

Clearly in our profession, sales presentations are a skills-based endeavor; but how do we avoid blowing up?  Lots of opinions and resources are available for this topic, aren’t there.  But whose opinions and examples are right?  Is there an expert?  We can always turn to Ben; 

Learn from the skillful:  He that teaches himself hath a fool for his master.

                                  Benjamin Franklin 

I’ve been invited to observe several of my fellow sales professionals recently on their presentation skills.  I’ve tried to coach them on how to avoid blowing up – but  who am I to say? 

We might all agree that effective sales presentations involve a high degree of individual style and personal preference.  And our styles and preferences are all very different from one another.  So at the risk of “throwing up” – and “blowing up” – permit me to offer two considerations, based on my own presentation explosion events over the years. 

If you haven’t practiced your presentation – they will notice. 

QUESTION:  When was the last time you practiced your presentation?  Yep – I’m talking about role-plays; in front of your peers; recorded on camera; the works.  Now, if we were an offensive guard for the Denver Broncos, we would practice our pass-blocking footwork over and over and over again, wouldn’t we?  We would review the film of our practices with our coach, too. And if we didn’t, our lack of preparation would be obvious on game day, as our opponent “blows us up”.  Is our sales profession any less professional than professional football? 

SOAPBOX WARNING:  It’s one of my biggest “pet-peeves”.  (Of course, my pet peeves are not important, really; I’m just another sales guy.)  But, if we are not practicing our sales presentations with a teammate, manager, or at least to our dog – then we are practicing on our prospects.  And their pet peeves are important.  Oh, they won’t offer us feedback for improvement.  Nope, they’ll just keep their opinions – and their purchases – to themselves. 

If you have 2-hours of content prepared for a 1 hour meeting – don’t try to talk faster. 

We have all been in this situation before, right?  The prospect cuts our allotted time; we scheduled a 2-hour appointment, but when we showed up they said they have to leave early.  So we tried to sell faster, didn’t we:

 “OK, Mr. Prospect.  Buckle up, please.  Hold your questions.  Better have some more coffee…” 

And my favorite icing on the Meeting-Time-Mismanagement-Cake is when the sales rep adds, “You probably will never use this, but I wanted to show it to you anyway”.  (What?  Is that the sound of a presentation blowing up in the background?  I smell gun powder – you?) 

Oh, there’s much, much more we could add.   But that would move this from a brief discussion to a “throw up” (and “blow up”).  Permit me to summarize with a sales presentation best practice offered by my favorite source – the Unknown Sage: 

            If a thing goes without saying, let it. 

So, before we have to call the Bomb Squad, let’s all defuse our sales presentations with a commitment to practicing them ahead of time, coupled with an excellent approach to time management, yes?  

                               GAP 

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1st Rule of Personal Business

“First Rule of Business:

Having a detailed business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but not having one guarantees failure.”

                      Unknown Sage

Captain’s Log – Star Date 01.17.2011, “Setting out for our new destination.  Don’t have a clue how we’re going to get there, nor what milestones we will look for along the way.  Milestones?  What in the galaxy are milestones, anyway?”

What is your destination for 2011?  Or, should I say destinations, plural?  And are you planning to get there or hoping to get there.  (Hoping – reminds me of one of my favorite business book titles, Hope is Not a Strategy.)  I will sit down in January and write my annual achievement plan.  Yes, yes, I know, I’m a little behind – an annual achievement plan should be written before 1/1.  I’m guilty of a little procrastination.  Donald Robert and Perry Marquis defined procrastination as, “the art of keeping up with yesterday.”  Well, I will get mine written in January and it will be written in a way that provides me milestones in 2011 that are meaningful to my journey.

Oh yes, and my company is also expecting me to fill in their annual sales plan too.  I don’t know about you, but to be meaningful my annual plan is a very personal matter.  Don’t get me wrong.  I understand I need to meet or exceed expectations of my company to earn recognition; make President’s Club; be promoted; or simply keep my job.   But there is much, much more to a successful year than just what you or I accomplish at work, yes?  There is our health for instance; family and friends; recreation; church and community; self-development; home improvement; lifetime fantasies; net worth goals; etc.  Ah yes, net worth; back to the money. 

Many people believe that money and success are one in the same, and the only important items for their annual plan.  That life is tough when your W-2 is smaller.    Of course, John Wayne said in the movie Iwo Jima, “Life is tough.  It’s tougher when you’re stupid.”  Again, don’t get me wrong.  I like big commission checks as much as the next person.  But I digress.  To me, an annual achievement plan has a few, very important components which make it personal enough to be meaningful.  Permit me to share a few. 

My annual achievement plan is written; if it isn’t in writing, it’s just hope.  I may state certain goals, but goals without tasks and milestones are just (you guessed it) hope.  These are the types of tasks that I can “check off” as I complete them.  It encourages me to look at my plan every day to see what I can check off; gives me a sense of progress; a feeling of accomplishment; positive motivation. Oh, and that word – motivation – and it’s opposite, de-motivation; perhaps the most critical area of my annual achievement plan.  This is where I want to keep hope alive! 

To succeed, I must believe I can accomplish my plan.  And, I must avoid the temptation to overload my plan to the point that I cannot possible do everything written down no matter how good my intentions might be, nor how hard I try.  That would make my plan de-motivational and could kill my hope.  Being realistic; prioritizing; and staying positive are the keys to me.

So, I expect 2011 will be a great year.  In fact, I’m planning on it!  How about you?

                                                            GAP

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