The fall of 2021 has been moving quickly relative to how slowly some of the past 18 months have seemed to crawl.
Several CEO's shared with us that 2021 has had some unique outcomes on what we are calling “the normal amount of corporate change."
In short, because the organizations that you are running have been forced to make changes tied to the pandemic, the normal amount of opt-in changes has dropped off considerably.
As one of them said to us: "if the roof is on fire, you don’t spend much time worrying about who is cleaning the pool."
We find this observation valuable to share because it is at this time of year that leaders are gathering to set the goals for 2022 and quite often the past is used as prologue.
This could be a recipe for disaster and we are suggesting a few ideas on how to not fall into that trap.
Step 1 – Look at the previous rate of change prior to the pandemic.
Two years ago, as you were outlining your growth strategies and allocating budgets for the coming year there was a normal rate of change in your forecast that we will call X. There could be several different categories that could help your team get to X which included customer growth, margin enhancement through cost cutting, and new customer acquisitions.
Step 2 – Look at how the Pandemic has augmented the rate of change in each category.
We have viewed the pandemic like a large landslide that has blown through a village, destroying some of the village, isolating the two halves that remain and noticing that one part of the village is benefiting and the other is suffering. We have been involved with companies in all three parts of that village and if you are still in business this is a good time to realize that 2022 just might be very similar to 2021 and to plan accordingly.
Going back to some of our earliest writings when the pandemic broke, the key actions and habits of persistence highlighted by Admiral James Stockdale could serve you well when working with your teams. If the impact of the pandemic is going to be felt for the next 7 years, then managing the expectations of your employees and shareholders matters as we head into year three.
When you do look at the categories that get you to your X we think you might notice that some of your customers might be out of business, some of your pricing power may have increased, and importantly the total addressable market of customers looking to make a voluntary change in the next calendar year may have dropped off a cliff.
This last point is really important, you will burn through your sales team if you ask them to win more games than are being played in a given year, and unlike professional sports the number of games played in a season changes in business. If the top 10 buyers of your service aren't going out to bid next year, you need to adjust your forecast.
Step 3 – Customize your 2022 plan to keep both your upstream and downstream publics aligned.
Inside of a vacuum shareholders want an infinite return for limited investment, customers want maximum value for the minimal cost, and employees seek stability and compensation for limited effort. In the marketplace all these self-interests smash together. The planning meetings you are in right now are unique and if you are being pressured by shareholders for breakout growth make sure your data supports it in these conditions.
Step 4 – Use the context of the pandemic to enable nailing team chemistry.
The pandemic is a huge catalyst which can be used as a galvanizing force to bring people together. The best leaders are working on team chemistry now which will be the foundation for their success beyond 2022. We are just digging into how the best leaders foster environments of great chemistry and will be sharing our findings in future publications.
A former player of Bill Walsh’s recently shared a quote from the famous coach. “You can have a winning team without chemistry, but championship teams always have it, and it's never the same twice.”
2020 & 2021 forced us all to change, and looking ahead it seems we might all be alchemists at the bench mixing the right atoms to create the winning chemical bonds for 2022.
Thank you for your friendship and readership,
Drew & Sara
p.s. Not sure if this person is a chemist....but haven't we have all felt this way at some point in recent months...
Why is such a strong word.
Why gets used early in life because the 2 year old in all of us knows it has the most power.
Why also is really dangerous if used incorrectly, especially when you don't have the power or influence to use it in a business setting.
As a sales person you know that if the buyer makes the wrong decision and the switching costs are high enough, it could cost them their job.
That is where the line, "no one ever got fired for hiring IBM" comes from.
But as a sales person you also know that asking, "why aren't you picking us right now" is a lame question and its not going to get answered truthfully.
You need to up your game as we discussed last time and substitute what and how questions to get the answers you need as to when they are making a decision and why your team is going to win.
Which gets us back to the final word in our series "WHY"
Because on an internal team you can build the trust to use this word correctly which is to help you nail the body language, tone and words of your positioning statements and questions.
When you are preparing for an enterprise sales meeting there are going to be multiple people who all need to know their role.
Someone on your team will be the presenter if you are sharing new information, it can help if someone else is the conductor who sets up the call, let's the presenter speak and then is able to frame the information in the right context and ask the right question in the right way at the right moment.
AND THEN EVERYONE ON THE SALES TEAM DOES NOTHING AND SAYS NOTHING
It is now the leader on the buy side who will speak or if you don't really have the decision maker present the person who reports to the leader will answer.
The why part of our enterprise sales call mantra is so that you can win more often and save time by not working on deals when you are not going to win.
Get your roles down, practice your phrases and learn how to be quiet and watch as you spend more time on the right deals and less time on deals that have you flat on your back like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulled the football out at the last second.
Hope this helps and if you like it, please share it!
Victim or Victor Checkpoint 3: What will you celebrate at the end of 2020 and how it may impact your 2021?
This is the 4th email and 3rd checkpoint in our 1/1/2022 Victim or Victor Series.
Staring at the final 45 days of 2020 and with a national election behind us we imagine you might have a few of your team members remarking how much they are looking forward to being done with 2020.
Sadly, as a leader you know all too well that Monday January 4th will present just as many challenges and opportunities as the previous Monday.
Setting your team’s sights further out appears to be prudent and we have compiled a few best practices for your ready reference.
Be wary of vaccine watching.
We hear lots of chatter about COVID vaccines and will rejoice when the right solution is presented at scale, but we don’t think you want your people to be the worldwide experts in that narrative as it can be tremendously distracting and demoralizing.
Admiral Stockdale whose 7 years as a POW in North Vietnam make him a good primary source on endurance commented that the people who suffered the most were those who set arbitrary dates on when they would be released.
When the interviewer asked who didn't make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:
“Oh, that's easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale then added: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Keep the daily routines and the key actions in place
Amidst the consistent noise of rising COVID cases and the concern over pending government actions it may be wise to take a page from Earnest Shackleton’s book when he was stuck on the south pole in the middle of winter. Their multi-year struggle with the elements included strict daily routines and even time out for the men to kick a soccer ball around.
When you are asking your team to hang in there every week, it can get old, consider keeping the cadence of meetings at the appropriate level and focus on the key actions that matter. Thinking back to the soccer example, we find it amazing that after trying to use a hand saw to break ice away from a ship that they had the energy to do anything, but the men trusted Shackleton and he trusted the power of keeping a cadence of action.
Having the courage to celebrate.
This may seem crazy, but we think the curious leader will find a way to help the team have the courage to celebrate the year. Turning this scrooge of a virus on its head and leveraging that for the first time in a century we are all have a common foe reminds of the Who’s in Whoville singing around the beleaguered Christmas tree in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.
Having the courage and curiosity to celebrate with your team could play a vital role in how the first quarter of 2021 goes for your team.
How you answer these questions could make the difference in having a team that resents everything it sees in the world or one that is buoyed by what they are overcoming and empowered by the resilient spirit that this period of their lives is helping them build. The Who’s gathered hand in hand and sang, and while we know we won’t be holding hands and probably not be singing, we sure hope you find a way to celebrate.
We celebrate the opportunity to share our insights with you and are thankful for your readership and friendship.
Drew and Sara
View the next post in the Series
View the previous post in the Series
Consultants can bring diversity of thought to a company, they also bring new terminology that at first glance may not make sense. We use a customer acquisition framework (CAF) to describe how a business wants a potential customer to learn about, and then accept its offer. It might be called sales and marketing and in other places it’s called marketing and sales. Regardless, the biggest change we have noticed in this area are the options available to your company relative to just five years ago. That is why it is one of our themes for 2019. It might make sense for you to revisit your strategy.
In 1995 the phone and the fax machine were the money makers, and having a toll free number was a big deal. You might have had a marketing department, but you didn’t know what worked and what didn’t and the magazine ad salespeople were really happy about that.
Today marketing executives can show up to a meeting with real data that tracks and predicts future behavior by your target customers.
What does this mean for you?
It means you have more leverage with your marketing dollars and your sales team. Just ten years ago you were still guessing with your marketing dollars and the sales reps could hold you hostage with the relationships they initiated.
In the House Tour image below think through how far you could have a potential customer get without the help of a sales person? As an owner you have an incentive to get them as far through the house as you can. Get this right and your cost of sales will plummet and your profitability will rise.
Email continues to be the killer app for developing and maintaining a respected position with your clients, customers and prospects. Recent data shows that enterprise and individual customers spend the vast majority of their time reading and communicating inside of an email application.
What does this mean for you?
It means that unless you have a business which really wants to attract a customer that it doesn’t know and offer them a commodity (think owning a McDonalds franchise) you don’t really need to spend a ton of money on social media. Your best course of action is to have a well-developed email communication plan that integrates with your website and sales team.
The frequency of your email communication should depend on the type of service or product you are delivering. It can range from a travel service emailing you multiple times a week, to an estate planning law firm that shares its findings once a quarter. If you want our advice on what your cadence should be, click here.
Hopefully you kissed some of the joy of summer as it flew by, put the memories in a jar, and blessed them with gratitude. Being able to do this, regardless of how full your jar is can be vital as you shift your focus to the fall. Here are a few helpful nuggets in three areas of work:
IF YOU HAVE A BOSS: Put yourself in their shoes and think through how they are looking at the next 18 months of their life. Understanding begins with observation, and if you are looking for a primer to help you in this area consider using our mapping your boss template.
IF YOU ACQUIRE CUSTOMERS: If you acquire customers for your company and have an annual sales number this time of year can be fantastic or frightful. Careful pipeline and funnel management will help you decide where to allocate your most precious asset: your time. Here are a few questions for you to review:
Five years ago we started Banyan with an eye for helping companies improve their performance, and we have sat in on numerous goal-setting sessions. Goals can make people be sick to their stomachs, and goals can be used as a weapon, but isn’t that kind of missing the whole point?
Today, we offer you a new way to look at goals and hope you might consider giving it a try in one area of your life. It starts with a mindset that focuses on goal attainment and uses the concept of school grades to dole out the rewards. If you reach 90% of the goal you get an A, 80% you get a B and so forth. C’s get degrees in school and historically is considered the average.
Yes, we can hear you thinking, that may be good for school, but this is the real world. If you don’t hit your goal, you might get fired!
Here is why you might want to take a closer look at this mindset if you are a leader. When you give your team a goal, you have 'goaled' them. This rhymes with scold. We think you should keep.....
One of the major headwinds to a great summer is if you are only 50% of the way to your annual goal by now, you are actually behind the number. This is because you will lose ground in Q3, and may not have the time to catch up in Q4. Being below goal is not a happy place, and could even be considered mediocre. If you are the leader it is easy to blame your people, but in a recent article by Joseph Grenny he articulates why it might be the leader's fault, and he shares a couple of ways to bring the big middle of your team up a few notches. Grenny is the co-author of one of our favorite books “Crucial Conversations, tools for talking when the stakes are high”. In this article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review he shares several ways to help the team visualize what their indifference could cause.
We think this hits the spot when it comes to larger group activities. The big middle is too....
We recently observed a sales meeting for a software company and were asked to listen to a new inside sales rep role play to learn what to say to a prospect. The tone and confidence were there, but we didn’t get the sense that the conversation was going anywhere. When asked for feedback I wanted to come up with an image that wasn’t tied to sports, so asked the new employee if they had ever been on a house tour like Mt. Vernon where George Washington lived. She replied in the affirmative and so I asked, do you think the tour guide is in sales? From this question a nice dialog ensued where I was able to get my point across that different types of dialog have different pace to them almost like a music score. In the case
If your network is the sum of all your shared experiences, and your production is the outcome of your efforts, than we would like you to consider that your personal flywheel is the combined influence of all of your connections. The great thing about having a network of people you have shared life experiences with is that they are a primary source on you and your character. Another benefit is that your network also cares deeply about their own success, and they are actively growing their own careers. As the calendar year turns towards the summer months, consider allocating some of that lost time of production to feeding your relationships with genuine inquiries regarding well-being and current plans. We wrote a white paper on this topic so if it feels awkward, you can follow our script. The interaction with your network will keep your activity and acuity levels at game-ready speed at a time of year when things can slow down. The norms of reciprocity will also be in your favor, as you seek to understand what’s new with them, they will return the inquiry. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes.
Next read our post on The Long Tail of networking on LinkedIN
The Golden State Warriors haven’t just taken the NBA by surprise, they’ve knocked it completely on its side. From our vantage point it is another example of highly adaptable Bay Area executive talent deploying a winning strategy, and we would like to share one element that you can use with your team. The NBA’s history of success had been Jordan as the star with a Pippen on the side, or Larry Bird as the star with DJ or McHale on the side, or LeBron with a strong second in Wade even won a title. Yet, coming out of San Antonio over the past ten years is a different model. It is less about the one star and more about a fully functioning team of 9 to 10 players getting meaningful minutes throughout the entire season.
There may not be a “Money Ball” book out yet on the this strategy, but the ownership of the Warriors brought Steve Kerr in to run a system similar to the Spurs, and it works on many levels. The correlation to your business that we would like to highlight is that you should be taking more people out on sales and service calls. Nothing is more painful than watching a loyal bench warmer thrust out on the court and struggle at crunch time because they haven’t seen the light of day for months. The ball is moving differently than in practice. The heat of the moment melts them on the spot. Have you not seen this on your work teams? The back office person left stammering because the prime time player is out on vacation or is sick.
We view this as a mistake by leadership to not develop all members of the team to be able to “leave the building” and go see a client or customer. It doesn't have to be an everyday occurrence, but having a system in place to keep all team members on the court will do wonders for your company. We hope the Warriors go all the way this year. Just remember, get the ball in as many people’s hands as you can during the regular season so they won’t drop it in the playoffs!
Try out our blog post next titled "Designing Your Team From Scratch"
This section will not be visible in live published website. Below are your current settings:
Current Number Of Columns are = 1
Expand Posts Area =
Gap/Space Between Posts = 10px
Blog Post Style = card
Use of custom card colors instead of default colors = 1
Blog Post Card Background Color = current color
Blog Post Card Shadow Color = current color
Blog Post Card Border Color = current color
Publish the website and visit your blog page to see the results
Drew Sanders Blog
Some of our awesome posts are from our newsletter Branches & Roots, an 8x a year publication. For full annual volumes see our buttons below! Even better sign up for the newsletter so you don't miss out.