Despite the severe adversity being endured due to the pandemic, you must persevere and take action to salvage as much of our revenue potential as we can. This is not a time for managers. This is a critical test for true leaders. If you thought the first half of 2020 was brutal, there is more bad news. Assuming you have a six-month sales cycle, you are not even playing the game for 2020 results… you are playing for 2021 financial results!
Every leader knows the current environment requires immediate action. The question is, “Which actions?” The next 15 days are important. You need to set the pace and return to fundamentals. This is about executing the basics and taking nothing for granted. It is about ensuring you not only survive, but thrive, in this new, and hopefully temporary, market condition.
Enter the “10 x 15 Approach.” These are the 10 essential actions that will be implemented within the next 15 days:
1. Immediately review the Funnel and the Pipeline for each salesperson or team. Opportunities that were qualified may no longer be viable. As a result, Opportunities have been “pushed out” to later in the year. Probabilities for closing have changed, as well as the forecasted dates. You must ensure your salespeople are ONLY working in legitimate Opportunities that are qualified and not suspect. That means it will be necessary to “kill” those that are not. Your immediate focus must be on:
- What qualified Opportunities can you leverage resources against and close in 2020?
- What Accounts can you generate demand in to assure 2021 is “fast-tracked?”
- Which Accounts have a greater sense of urgency due to the current crisis?
2. Focus each person on actions for the “next 15 days” to advance their Opportunities. This is a time for risk. Push your people outside of their comfort zones and help them take actions with a sense of urgency. The “next 15 days” needs to become your mantra. “What will we commit to accomplishing within the next 15 days?”
3. Leverage your resources. This is not a time to shy away from taking bold and decisive actions. If you need resources, go get them. Everyone within your team, organization, and company should have a strong interest in helping to close business. If you need senior management, enlist them, and discuss how they might help access higher levels, or provide assurances for clients that are important to closing the deal. Every person within the organization should be working for Sales. Period.
4. Create Demand and fill the funnel. “Intelligent activity always generates results.” Set aside time to help your people “think” about how you can help clients. What are the pressing challenges within the client’s industry? What ideas can you generate? What business outcomes can you create? This is THE time to start planting ideas. The chaos that has been created has placed a premium on creative ideas.
5. Be creative and restructure your Opportunities where you can. Your clients are working through their own challenges. Can you provide more flexible payment terms? Begin a project with smaller scope? Forgo normal payments for “success fees?” Backload a contract? This may provide an outstanding opportunity to collaborate with a client contact to help restructure an approach they can approve.
6. What haven’t you presented? Assuming you have several things in your portfolio, what items might require a smaller commitment from the client and serve to maintain momentum towards their business results? There are always services and capabilities that have been ignored due to smaller compensation returns OR that have been “lost” in the tsunami of organizational information overload. Take a fresh look at your portfolio to find these potential gems.
7. Review and improve your outstanding proposals. Your people MUST be selling outcomes. Pull your key proposals and review them. Make them shorter and revise them so they speak to the business outcomes that will be created. Turn them into Business Cases.
8. Elevate your positioning within the Opportunities. The current market has stripped decision-making from lower levels. Any financial investments are now being made two to three levels higher than most of the contacts you have been working with. Recognize this and include tactics on how you are going to begin working with these higher-level contacts within the next 15 days.
9. Focus on your largest qualified Opportunities. This is not rocket science. Your largest Opportunities are the ones that will move the revenue needle most significantly. Pick your top 10 Opportunities and make certain they are being driven. The next 15 days for these deals will help you accelerate towards respectable results.
10. Invest time in your people. This is your test of leadership. Your people can easily become demotivated, disconnected, and hang their heads in mental defeat. Be vigilant about encouraging them and reminding them you are committed to their success. Coach them, challenge them, listen to them, and over-communicate with them.
These 10 items effectively implemented over the next 15 days will change how you view the current challenges and give you a competitive advantage. It will increase the sense of urgency and you will see intelligent activity being rewarded. It starts with the next 15 days.
Write down the key actions in this article you believe are critical to your organization. Create leverage by reviewing your plan with your team, manager, and key support personnel. Make this your mission. The next 15 days will change your perspective, and ultimately your results.