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Archived: Nothing is Easy about Sales

Posted on January 19, 2012

Editor’s note – One in an occasional series of articles on sales and sales management in a difficult economy. Jack Derby is CEO of Derby Management in Boston and lead presenter at the April 1-3 AIM Sales Management Boot Camp.

Nothing’s easy.

Sales ManagementSometimes, I will hear in a sales meeting…”but it’s simple”, or, “it’s just basic.” My attitude when I hear this type of thing is “Well, if it were so simple, then why are we talking about it?” My frustration with “It’s simple” goes right along with the comment from one’s boss that often begins with…”It will only take a minute.”, which absolutely never…takes a minute.

Selling isn’t easy, marketing is increasingly complex, and, in reality, there’s nothing in the world of B2B sales, that comes as a result of picking “low hanging fruit”- a phrase only spoken by people who’ve never sold much.

With most of us locked into kickoff-the-year sales meetings this week or next, we’re going to be drinking from multiple fire hoses of new content, stretched objectives, updated tactics, and, just perhaps, become overwhelmed with way too much to do. By the way, after giving up a couple of days to meetings, we also need to do our day jobs and make January’s numbers.

So, a couple of quick ideas…

1. The Rule of Three – Attend anything – a seminar, sales meeting, or boot camp – and you should try to walk away with no more than three things that you’re going to put to work almost immediately. In executing our day jobs, it’s almost impossible to remember more than three new things in the day-to-day, and even if you could remember more than three, you don’t have enough time or resources to focus on more than one or two of those during the entire year.

Remember, making progress in your sales career and executing on your quarterly plans is not the result of an exam scoring what you learned and didn’t learn in a sales meeting; it’s measurement of how you practiced a small number of tactics that gave you the ability to put points on the board and win the game.

2. Create Two Buckets – There will be tens and tens of new ideas and tactics floated in these sales meetings in the next few weeks. I’d recommend that you put each of these into one or the other bucket.

First, ask yourself, “Can I put this to work in the next 30 days such that it will have impact on my numbers this quarter?” Quick tactics, somewhat easy to implement and immediately impactful measured with such specifics as leads received, leads qualified, and the numbers of Discovery meetings achieved. That’s for the short term, and there are not going to be many of those.

Everything else will take a lot of time. Sales strategies and tactics, in order to truly move the needle, take intricate planning, rehearsed and highly practiced training sessions and weeks and weeks of review, refinement and implementation. So, as you listen to countless presentations over the next few weeks, and as you probably nod off a couple of times as a result of Death by PowerPoint, force yourself to focus continuously only on what you can put to use that will impact your own personal sales plans and numbers over the next two quarters.

Think of these meetings as a result of one giant experiment where idea after idea is going to be presented. Your job is to not to run the most experiments. Your job is to find the formula that works for you.

Part of that answer will come as a result of attending the AIM/Derby Sales Management Effectiveness Boot Camp April 1-3 in Boston. We know from our experience of five years of Boot Camps that a retuning, a look at new ideas and the opportunity to talk to other management professionals, is just the thing to accelerate the productivity of your sales team for 2012.

Guest speakers for this session will include executives from Brainshark, HubSpot, Time Trade and Salesforce.

The Early Bird Discount, which ends this Friday, is $200 off our low price/high value program if you sign before the end of the day on Friday. Plus you can get an additional $100 off each for you and any other managers that accompany you from your company. Finally, all attendees receive a free half day Whiteboarding Session scheduled at their convenience anytime during the following six months.

Just email me at, and I’ll set up a 10 minute call to answer your questions and walk you through the details of how to register. Good Selling!