Are You Stuck In a Rut?

Doing the same thing over and over again

Since many good things (and some not so good) traditionally come in threes, we thought we’d follow the lead set in our last two blog posts where we spoke of service and value and talk about a third old fashion thing. 

Let’s talk about tradition, which can be a blessing or a curse.

Traditions stand for continuity and stability

Socially and in business, some traditions are extremely positive.  They stand for continuity and stability, the often needed and comfortable status quo.

Blessing, Curse Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Blue Sky and Clouds.But sometimes, they’re negatives that translate into, “That’s how we’ve always done it and, right or wrong, that’s how we’ll go on doing it.”

For example, I’ll bet your company has always been based on quality, service, and value.  And that it’s a tradition you’re proud of.  On the other hand, your mind must always be open to new ideas as well as new needs and demands from the markets you serve.

As America emerges from the Great Recession that has hurt so many builders and remodelers, burdensome traditions will fall like trees in a logging camp.

It’s time to challenge the status quo

Meanwhile, until that much discussed but painfully slow emergence occurs, some tradition-bashing may well be called for.  For you, that should involve asking yourselves and your customers how you can do an even better job than you think you’re doing right now.

That's the way we've always done it

How about your traditions?  When was the last time you reminded your customers that part of your job is to help them sell their customers?  Are your sales teams making full use of all the sales, marketing and training tools you have invested in?  Or are they relying on the same old tricks that worked in the past?  It’s the basis for the often quoted saying “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

If your answer to any of these questions—or others you come up with yourself – is, “We don’t work that way,” or “We never have in the past,” or “We never had to before,” or something more colorful, it may be time to join in a quick sing-along of TRADITION, then immediately switch to a chorus of an oldie called THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE.

The best tradition is being profitable

Time For ChangeA very wise old business philosopher once said, in business, the best tradition is being profitable.  With that in mind, it may be the perfect time to sort out the positive traditions, get rid of those that hinder more than they help, and start creating some new ones.

Are You Using These 4 Critical Steps of Sales Leadership?

Sales leadership stepsSelling a lot of material is no longer just what you want your sales force to do.

Demands and expectations of customers are growing.  You must satisfy their needs.

Information technology is giving you more date, in more user-friendly.  The result is you need to more finely direct your sales force with the insights you now have.

Getting the sales force to do what you want them to do!

You have to decide what you want your sales force to do − that directly comes from your strategic plan or sales strategy. Therefore, you must develop a strategic plan and then create expectations for your sales force to support that plan.

Develop a list of the three to ten most important things you want the sales force to do − sales should be one of them, gross profits should be another.

Make sure your list can be easily, fairly, and accurately measured.  One measurement could be calling on new prospects, which measures activity.

The 4 critical steps of sales leadership again are:

  1. 4stepsDevelop a strategic plan.
  2. Create a set of 3 – 10 most important sales behaviors.
  3. Fine tune them until they are easily, fairly, and accurately measurable.
  4. Measure and reward the behavior you want.   Toasting measurable results or regions and/or sales people will get everyone’s attention.

Don’t expect great results if you only deploy and hope

4 steps to sales leadershipCreate a high performance sales team by holding accountability, goal setting, strategy developing, resource identifying, and quarterly or monthly conferences with each of your sales people.

At these conferences, do the following:

  1. Hold them accountable for what they said they were going to do
  2. Help them set goals
  3. Help them create a strategy
  4. Ask − how can I help

Follow these steps and your team will not only have better direction, they’ll better understand how critical their role is in delivering the results that the company needs and they signed up for.

Good Selling!

Are You Using a 30-60-90 Day Marketing Plan?

Having a 30-60-90 day action plan means you've done your homework and plan on being successfulAre you joining a company with big problems? It may be too cliche, but it probably depends on if you see the glass half empty or half full.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hiring process and your ego can get in the way of asking the right questions. You may never uncover or, worse, miss the warning signs that would prove that you cannot gain the commitments you’d need to succeed – especially with those critical quick wins that will help you gain credibility and traction with a new employer’s organization.

If you see the opportunity, the alignment and the financial backing, then you should accept that new position but only if you have a plan for success. If any of those pieces of missing, there’s a good chance that you will fail.

I’ve recently updated this post with more specifics for your marketing action plan. Take a look at What Does A 30-60-90 Day Action Plan Look Like For A Marketing Leader?

Having a 30-60-90 day action plan will make you a better interviewer – and a better employee

To build your initial action plan, think in terms of the first 30, 60 and 90 days.

  • First 30 days – Learn
  • Days 31 to 60 – Document and Build
  • Days 61 to 90 – Present and Prioritize

This 30-60-90 day on-boarding plan is marketing focused and is based on experience and input from my colleague Doug Thompson, General Manager Rockwood Manufacturing at ASSA ABLOY.

First 30 days – Learn

30-60-90 Day Plans

The focus in the first 30 days is about developing rapport and teamwork.  Your main goal is to be a sponge and learn about the people, product, sales and marketing within the company.  We have built this plan with the idea that the role being filled is a senior marketer in the company.

People

  • Understand expectations of your role and the department
  • Meet with each functional head and other critical individuals
  • Introduce yourself to the current Marketing team and schedule 1 on 1 meetings

Product

  • Review depth & breadth of product lines by brand including competition
  • Learn the manufacturing/assembly process & variations, site visits as necessary
  • Review category / brand / key account information and financials

Sales

  • Visit key accounts and discuss the current sales proposition and effectiveness
  • Discuss any perceived gaps in the marketing strategy or product line
  • Develop understanding of opposing brands in space and why chosen
  • Solicit ideas for product road map

Marketing

  • Review current marketing strategy by brand, perceived effectiveness
  • Understand existing user research and related insights
  • Review budgets
  • Start preparation of annual marketing plan

Days 31 to 60 – Document and Build

30-60-90 Day RoadmapIn this 30 day block, you are moving from strictly learning into a phase that involves gaining insights that you can weave into the recommendations you’ll be making later.

People

  • Continue to build rapport with corporate leadership team
  • Site visits to key facilities
  • Team Building exercises
  • Determine strengths and capacity of marketing team

Product

  • Review bills of material (BOMs) of high volume items
  • Spend time on the line building products
  • Brainstorming sessions held to generate innovative concepts
  • New Product Development process skeleton reviewed
  • Summarize wish list of new products

Marketing

  • Benchmark competitors marketing messages
  • Develop key points of difference between firms (product & marketing)
  • Internal review of initial brand messaging and position statements
  • Analyze sales trends in light of promotion to determine effectiveness

Days 61 to 90 – Present and Prioritize

30-60-90 business planPrioritization becomes increasingly important as opportunities unveil themselves.  Based on both your learning and insights from the last 60 days, you’ll be able to make thoughtful decisions that will net you those critical short-term wins that will power your credibility despite being the “new guy.”

People

  • Continue to build rapport with corporate leadership team
  • Explore future organization structure for marketing & product management team

Product

  • Review first pass of “current” product road map
  • New Product Development process checklist created
  • Define process / research needed to uncover next generation platforms

Marketing

  • Start evaluation of marketing support firms
  • Review & benchmarking of websites
  • Social Media footprint analysis

Sales

  • Feedback on product road map
  • Visit key customers with sales leads
  • Determine needs for training and sales materials
  • Work with sales leadership on how direct sales could fit into landscape

Having a 30-60-90 day action plan means you’ve done your homework and plan on being successful

If you see the opportunity, the alignment and the financial backing, then you should accept that new position but only if you have a plan for success. Coming prepared with a 30-60-90 day on-boarding plan signals to your potential employer that you’ve done your homework. It also demonstrates how you will work to gain traction within the organization to help ensure your success.

But be clear in your own mind that the 30-60-90 day action plan is your process to use before being hired to uncover whether that proverbial glass is half full or one about to be completely drained.