The Sales Coach Blog presented over 200 articles in 2012 and it received close to 30,000 visitors in that period. April to June was when the blog hit the purple patch, it was an inflection point; readership regularly hit 100+ per day from that period onwards. In Dec 2012 there was a slowdown because I had not posted any article after Dec 8th – the next one only appeared on Jan 1, 2013; concomitantly there was a huge dip in readership, from almost 4000 in Nov 2012 it crashed to 1700 in Dec 2012. I have it all to do in 2013.
Based on number of readers these are the Top-5 articles:
No.1 spot is taken by the 2nd and concluding article of the Negotiation Case Study I presented in May, 2012.
Then came the one on qualification of Prospects – how to make realisitic Sales Forecasts:
What I had to say about letting go off the past and moving on struck a chord with a lot of my readers:
Most people don’t realise that one needs to be assertive to be successful in life – I made a strong case for it here:
And finally, the one that should be on top of the list; actually this article got the highest number of hits but the analytics on WordPress also tells me that a lot of people reached the article after having Googled for the photo, not the text!! So I hesitantly put it down at No.5
A special mention for this next article because it got the highest number of responses from my readers – there were 17 comments in response to this article and one even had a follow-up comment. The topic discussed was Courtesy and Manners and its a hotly debated one in recent times. Almost everyone has something to say about it and that’s reflected in the number of responses I got:
I look forward to your support, feedback and comments in 2013.
P.S: This was the article posted on the day the blog got its highest ever readership – the topic was Career Guidance for young professionals:
There were 201 visitors on that day – it was the 3rd time the Sales Coach Blog hit 200 in a single day – however the visitors were not here to read this article and hence it doesn’t feature in the Top-5.
September 30 is halfway mark of the business year for most companies in India.
Many Business Managers across the nation would soon be sitting with their team-members for formal or informal reviews of performance in the six months that have gone by.
Thought I should share some thoughts on the subject with them.
Reviews are good times to value-add and to look to the future. That sounds contrarian, doesn’t it?
One would think that a review is the right time to look back and to tell people where they stand, based on the findings. But living in the past will get us nowhere!
The review you conduct should be forward-thinking – treat your team as live resources who would continue producing good results for the organisation; if you treat them like dead-meat, cattle ready for the slaughter, there would be a lot of blood on your hands and a bunch of lifeless people to work with.
The meeting should be fact-based, your expectations realistic and the mood positive.
It’s best to ask the person first to give her/his impression on the half-year’s performance. If they have done well be effusive while offering congratulations and ask how they can maintain or exceed the pace – push them to exceed expectations by a large margin – but try not to reset budgets (unless market conditions or any other factor has necessitated the change), because that can be counter-productive. If you have a proper reason to change the budget it needs to be stated upfront and the person should stay charged for the period ahead.
While increasing targets you also need to confirm what additional inputs and incentives are being provided for achieving the bigger number.
If there is a shortfall in results against the target set you need to take into cognizance the reasons for such performance and how that can be avoided going forward. While discussing variances with a team-member, who has not been up to scratch, confirm that it was not a case of slackness or lack of effort. If there has been undue delay or spillover of some orders into the next half-year period you should consider giving the person the benefit of the doubt – probably the shortfall is on account of the non-availability of inputs and support from you or the organisation.
But there is no place for the slacker in your team – this message has to go across in unequivocal terms.
Remember, these days jobs are hard to come by, but so are competent people. You should not be afraid of delivering bad news; however, do so only when you are sure the person is incapable of giving you the expected results. Removing or replacing people should happen only after all other methods have been explored. It is not easy to recruit a new person and bring him up to speed in a short time.
Conduct the conversation in a cordial atmosphere and ensure all decisions are based on facts – discuss events and outcomes and how repeats of disasters can be avoided. Don’t blame the person, but focus on the actions and behaviours – work on the elements that can be corrected.
Ensure that the discussions are recorded and all parties concerned have clarity on what is to be achieved – the documents should outline who will do what, by when, and what support is to be provided.
The meeting should end on a high and the team-members should return to work feeling totally charged.
When you sit with your team for the review early next month use facts to motivate better performance in the six month period. Think business wins, not personal wins!
Amar runs 3 businesses – he started the first one 25 years back using the savings from his job. He was in the early 20s back then, brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. He took on the dealership of the products he was selling, as an employee, for a few years. He knew the products inside out and the people who mattered; many of his organisation’s customers would be the ones he used to visit earlier and the Principal was after his old employer.
Amar worked with a lot of energy and all the ideas he had started out with began bearing fruit. When the dealership was on a firm footing Amar decided to take on one more line of activity. He promised the Principals that his maiden venture would not be neglected and business would continue like before. Since a significant portion of his time would have to be invested in the development of this new line, he decided to find a Manager for the first business – and just then his brother, Manu, quit his job and was in search of work. Amar felt that having someone from the family to run the affairs meant he could safely take his eyes off the old line and focus fully on the new one, which he was not so familiar with. But with Amar’s undivided attention and his Sales acumen the new business started growing too. Soon this new line was also achieving decent revenue and providing healthy profit.
But soon news started reaching him through customers that service in his old line was not up to the mark and former colleagues called up to tell him that fresh inventory requests have fallen in recent months – that clearly indicated a dip in Sales. Amar called Manu to find out what was wrong – he was assured that it was only a minor blip and things were under control. Amar also heard from competitors, with whom he was still in touch, that business was booming.
With the first venture still in the positive (albeit with Sales and Service showing downward trends) and the second business achieving stability Amar felt good and soon he experienced that old itch again – “Isn’t it time to start a new line of activity?”
It was then that an old friend of his appeared out of nowhere and asked him to join a venture that was being launched in another city – it meant that he would have to be away from his home-base for extended periods of time. But this seemed like a break into the big league and he was excited – the profit expected from the venture was too good to resist. The friend had also told Amar that he need not put in any cash, just his know-how and sweat equity were sufficient. Amar jumped in with eyes-closed. The reins of the second business were handed over to a second brother, Kumar, who had recently retired and returned to their home-town, after working for many years in another country.
Amar got totally involved with the newest baby and left the affairs of old businesses completely in the hands of his two brothers; they were family after all and things can’t go wrong. But, that wasn’t how it went – the first business had been slipping for quite a while and Sales was now in the red. And while Amar was still comfortably placed with decent returns coming from the new venture he had been pumping a lot of money to keep his old businesses afloat. His brother always seemed to be short of cash to run the business and he generously made good the shortfall.
Kumar, who ran the second business was unfamiliar with the market but wouldn’t take any inputs from the team and they in turn did not his style of operations. They were used to working with Amar, who was more accommodative and gave the team more freedom. The brother was more autocratic and wanted to call all the shots – while he did not know the situation on the ground and was unable to understand the demands of the customers, he wouldn’t permit the team to take decisions. Business stalled and many employees left the organisation.
While Amar’s third business provided returns it wasn’t at the levels predicted by his promoter friend and he was not able to call all the shots in the operations like he had hoped to. His own businesses were in the hands of Managers who were permitting thing to spin out of control – they clearly didn’t seem to have the answers.
Can you help Amar work his way out of the sticky situation he seems to be in right now?
- What do you think is happening here? What went wrong?
- What would you suggest to Amar to help him get things back under control?
I really look forward to your thoughts and suggestions. Leave them in the Comments section of the Sales Coach Blog and I will read each and every one of them.
Part – 2 would discuss your responses and I will throw in some suggestion from my side too.
It’s another Monday – I stared for a long time at the blank, white space on my new word document, wondering what to say?
Are your Monday morning’s that way? Did you drag yourself to work in a daze or are you bright and ready-to-go?
Some Company’s “get around the problem” by scheduling a meeting and that in many instances becomes one more reason to hate turning up for work – because it means difficult questions, more recriminations and probably workload over the weekend. Managers really need to question the content, the need and the utility of such sessions. Many meetings that I took part in seemed to be time-passes and achieved precious little. For Sales Teams Monday morning meetings are a good diversion because customers are not available – they are having their own meetings!
It’s best that one comes to work on Monday with a plan – set aside time on Friday or Saturday for this critical activity. It’s important that you head into the new week on a strong note.
- The Agenda for the meeting should be known in advance.
- Ensure that you and team have the data ready for the Monday meeting before heading home for the weekend.
- Discuss solutions to roadblocks and methods to reach objectives. No meetings should be about presenting data.
- Post-mortems are the worst things for a Monday Morning; do it, if it needs to be done, but later!
- Review the Whys and Hows; ask for support, list out enablers, offer solutions, decide corrective actions and critical issues.
- Discuss tactics and key deliverables for the week – what will be done and what it’s going to achieve.
- Always, always close the meeting on a positive note; no matter what the situation; never make team-members start the week feeling depressed – that would be a surefire formula for failure.
I can jump-start my Monday by listing down topics for the new week, with a synopsis for each one, in the previous week itself.
To avoid bleak weeks plan on Friday and start Mondays on a bright note … I wish you a fabulous week!
We are into June 2012, the 3rd month of Quarter-1; isn’t it time to make a quick assessment of the progress made in the last 2 months.
If you have achieved your Sales target but not on a few other major KRA items, then a smaller Congrats! … because you are not fully there yet.
And for those who are behind on most of the parameters … No need to feel defeated. But it is time to regroup and push harder.
To Sales Executives:
- Analyse the orders won: Who is buying? What products are selling?
- Have all products been promoted as planned? Are you on target in all products?
- How good is the order pipe-line? Do you have enough prospects to get you there?
- Have you appointed Channel Partners as planned and are they fully functional?
- Are all the Channel Partners well-staffed and implementing the Business Plan as promised?
- Are your promotional activities taking place as planned? Have you analysed the results?
- Are you making the planned number of Sales visits? How many visits are needed to get you to the close?
- How good is your prospect-to-order ratio?
- Don’t gloss over the data? Living in a fool’s paradise will get you nowhere.
- Assess where you are falling short and what needs to be done to cover the shortfall?
- Are you short on any skill? Do you need training to cover that deficiency?
- Do any of your Channel Partners or their team-members need to be trained or coached?
- Remember to Congratulate all the performers
- Sit with each team-member and go through the data
- Bring out the key messages and get buy-in for the corrective action planned
- Show the laggards where they are falling short and tell them how to pull things back on track
- Conduct the meeting in an constructive way; review like you wish to be reviewed
- Tell the slackers, in no uncertain terms, that less than 100% effort is unacceptable
- Coach or arrange training for the team – members who are genuinely weak in any skill area.
- Closely monitor performance through the month – a performance tracker board will be useful
Channel Managers can do a similar review for each Channel Partner; Key Account Managers can do an Account-wise analysis.
Thorough Variance Analysis followed by a realistic and robust Action Plan topped with timely follow-through will ensure that you achieve satisfactory results at the end of the Quarter.
All the best!
I am not suggesting even for a moment that the other partner in the pairs mentioned above was just an alter ego or sounding board – each of them had valuable contributions to make in the growth of the organisation they helped create – but being in pairs they were able to discuss, deliberate, rip-up and splice together each other’s ideas. That is a huge advantage for fledgling enterprises and entrepreneurs.
Yesterday, I met a young entrepreneur, Sunil Menon, regular reader of my blog (Good Man!) – He was in town and wanted to bounce some ideas off me! We have been exchanging emails ever since he read an article at the Sales Coach blog a few weeks back and wrote in to say that it sparked some new ideas.
Yesterday, it was the same thing again; my most recent article “rang a bell” and being in Cochin, on a business visit, decided to meet me to discuss the matter further.
Sunil said that the biggest worry at present is not lack of customers or cash flow or invesors, it is the lack of a fellow wayfarer. Someone who would travel the path with him and be able to:
- Slice and dice ideas
- Be available for discussions,
- Provide support in decision making,
- Be willing to shoulder part of the load
- Provide fresh perspectives or
- Add an unthought of dimension
I have faced this problem on numerous occasions and have not been able to resolve it fully yet. It is tough being a solopreneur! Ones own ideas and decisions have to be looked at from different angles as if one were switching between Jekyll’s and Hyde’s roles – maybe having a split personality helps in business!
As an Entreperneur or even as a practicing professional it helps to have someone to talk to. The other person is able to look at your ideas with greater objectivity and even add a bit their perspective to it without changing it beyond recognition. If the person previous experience happens to be from the same business domain s/he can add their knowledge and improve the idea further.
Maybe even saying it out loudly to your pet dog or canary will help you to get a breakthrough or think up something new. But that should be the last resort.
Although a new entrant in the segment Sunil has been successful it breaking into the market and he is confident about the year ahead –he can hire a Consultant, but then it means two things – a fat fee and getting into too much detail and elboration. The expert knows best and has to prove it all the time! But the entrepreneur is usually looking for validation and value-addition to the basic premise he or she has created. He wants a regular sounding board – someone who would listen to his strategies, ideas and decisions and quiz him about it and guide him occasionally or maybe just be the catalyst!
What has been your experience … Is there someone to call Kemo Sabe? Get a Business Pardner with whom you can ride into a Glorious Sunset discussing new adventures!
Another weekend. Time to put one’s feet up for a while to get some well-deserved rest. It’s also a good time to take stock, assess the events of the week gone by … in my case, the month.
Let me explain – this is Post No. 31; it calls for a mini celebration because I have been writing for one whole month, without a break, and I am 31-born.
I have been studying the feedback received over the last month – Likes and Comments at the blog and on my Social Media pages.
Most of the feedback have been:
- Appreciation for the style and structure of my Posts
- Support for the topics I have presented
- Appreciation for my commitment and consistency
- Thanks from readers for the insights and tips that helped them
One friend said my articles are “Not preachy! They are useful even to those who are not in Sales”; another appreciated the way I found time to successfully juggle so many different roles – if only she knew!
I thank them all for sharing their thoughts and appreciation; useful insights and encouragement.
I cannot ignore my die-hard fans (have their permission to say so!). They keep me going. Have to acknowledge the person I call Reader No.1, Sourav Das. Thank you, Sonny -boy! … and to you, Paul.
There have been a few thought critiques too – on word choices, sentence structures, size of the Posts, choice of topics and some who disagree with my thought process. Again valuable stuff!
Shantanu Sengupta who pushed (No! FORCED) me to start writing – and gave no-holds-barred feedback on the articles. That told me how my readers are thinking and helped shape my style. Thank you, Shantanu.
Am still some distance away from being good – but, I surely am on my way.
Even the minutest feedback is useful. If you think someone is being unfair or biased you only have to ignore their suggestion; LATER, not while the feedback is being given – accept all feedback with grace.
Don’t get defensive or angry while receiving negative feedback – the best method is to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut; on the computer, don’t hit the Reply button after reading feedback, except to say “Thank you!”
Remember, it’s only their point-of-view; but it pays to listen.
You can be your own critic – and some say, the best one; but chances are that you could be biased and blind to some of your deficiencies; so it’s worthwhile to get another opinion.
Feedback helps in many ways:
- Helps to keep your grounded
- Stops you from losing control
- Gives you direction
- Propels you forward
Be open to feedback … it’s an indicator of your true worth!