We call them the dog days of summer. The long, hot days of summer seem to have salespeople and customers alike under a listless spell. The call of the shoreline, the lake, the golf course, and many other assorted vacations pull the focus away from the necessary tasks at hand. Sales tend to lag, profits tend to decrease, and the fourth quarter is looming on the all to near horizon.
As we head into August this year, let’s take a long hard look at the state of our sales departments. Fear, uncertainty, and multiple changes have slowed down the typical buying cycles and more is demanded of the salespeople to create results. Now, add in the dog days of summer where decision-makers have “checked out” on various vacations, and the salespeople really have a challenge on their hands.
In such a diverse set of circumstances in the industries in which we are coaching, there is one thing that remains constant this summer. That is the need for the salespeople to stay focused on what’s going on in their respective marketplaces and to project themselves and their sales heading into the upcoming quarter.
Have your salespeople met their projected results thus far this year? If so, how will they continue that trend into the close of the year? If not, what magical events will occur for them to hit company goals for the close of the year? As we head into August, we might want to go back and take inventory of our people, our processes, our systems, and our goals.
Remember, the holiday months are less than 120 days away. During those months, many companies tend to have a similar experience with the results of their sales departments. People are focused more on the holidays then they are on finishing the year strong. Why fall victim to this phenomenon this year? Now is the time to start planning your approach in the marketplace for the end of the year. What can be done different internally? How can you look to build a platform on which your people will strive for greater results?
Here is a blueprint plan of ACTION!!
1-Turn up the volume! HUSTLE!
I often see the management and leadership elements of organizations “taking a hiatus” during the summer months. Now is the time to increase your focus on your team. Get on the phones with them today! Get in the field with them today! Show them the HUSTLE and URGENCY that you need from them. Re-engage with your teams and model the behavior that you seek! If you are willing to do it (and do it more than once), then they have no excuse!
2-Follow the LEADER
Do you remember playing that game with your friends when you were young? Play it with your company now! In order for the game to be any fun, however, you need a leader! Are you willing to jump in with both feet and LEAD? Leaders communicate, recognize, empower, coach, direct, and win with their people! Managers aren’t always leaders. Besides….who ever played “follow the Manager?”
- Start an “intensity” month with daily morning huddles defining the day’s strategy.
- Measure everything and inspect what you expect!
- Have an ALL-HANDS meeting and bring in an expert to re-align all the players.
- Develop a 6-month IDP (Individual Development Plan) with each of your people.
- Redefine what WINNING means and start driving that bus!
3-Design and Run a New Contest
What do you need more of? What needs more attention and focus from your team? What areas need re-energizing?
- New products need to get into the marketplace?
- Customer service standards need to dramatically increase?
- New accounts need to be opened?
- Need to penetrate, fortify, and grow your top 25 accounts?
- Relationships need to improve with your best clients?
- Need to get new “breath” on the team?
4-STOP Recognizing and Rewarding Mediocrity
Is it OK to fail when working for you? Is it OK to not really try when working for you? Is it OK to not really be ALL-IN when working for you? Is it OK to not meet minimum expectations when working for you? If so……you are letting your people down. Every time we let it be “OK” to any of the above things, we actually make it OK to be mediocre! Why, because MOST people are only mediocre. Most people phone it in, don’t really push themselves, and don’t ever travel the extra mile!
Identify those that have either “checked out” on you or on themselves and the team and do something about it! They may choose to “phone it in” each day ONLY because you make it OK to do so.
We have less than 4 months left in the year to accomplish our goals. Don’t let the summer Dog Days drag you, your people, and your results down. DO SOMETHING about it….NOW!!