by Todd McCandless
Plowing through my 2012 forecast and budget process I was reminded of all the reasons next year could be difficult. How much to budget for new market campaigns, promotional materials, bulk paper, and training—everyone has an expensive, Cisco-esque training requirement these days—and I looked out the window to see the trees jettison their leaves in preparation for their winter season.
They do this to survive. It’s part of their genetic cycle that stores what resources it has to survive a difficult period of time until they can bloom again and harvest the light that so generously rains down upon them. While I was immersed in my shoe-gazing moment of silence—save the strains of a string quartet streaming on my computer—I started to consider the very basic principal of sales. Sales and the survival of a difficult period (read: an icky economy).
My Grandmother used to say that things always change and while they may change for the worse, they will change again. It’s the one thing you can count on. This was a non sequitur for me as a young man because I was out to change the world—never mind I should stop and consider that the world would change me or that I should be more focused on changing myself instead.
After the truth of her words was revealed to me when life beat me about the head and neck for a season or 12, I determined that when faced with a very complicated economy we need simple solutions—if not a simple plan. Here is a simple, well-trodden path to improving your situation for 2012 and it requires minimal resources to deploy.
Sales is king. This is a truism to which we can all agree. Here is a simple idea:
Total your sales force. You have 20 sellers? Great!
Now break them into three groups based on the last 3-4 year’s sales performance-to-quota:
• 100 percent or greater than quota (Group One)
• 65 percent-99 percent to quota (Group Two)
• 64 percent or less than quota (Group Three)
For argument’s sake, let’s say you have four sellers in Group One, 12 sellers in Group Two and four sellers in Group Three.
Now, where is the single biggest impact for your company in 2012? Group Two! This is the group that needs your attention, support, wisdom and direction. This is the group that can make or break your year. Here’s how.
Let’s take the 12 sellers running between 65 percent-99 percent and focus on getting them only 2 percent closer to their quota in 2012. That’s a 24 percent impact on your company’s top-line performance!
It is simple math fraught with its own challenges but think of it logically for a moment. If you can get a 2 percent increase from 12 sellers, it has big results for your company. You’re not asking for 150 percent performance-to-quota from Group Two (although that would be nice) but you are focusing on the group that can have the biggest impact.
It’s a bit like seeing the forest instead of the trees but sometimes the elemental approach has much more appeal if it can be measurable and successfully deployed with complete commitment from all participants.
Group One sellers are terrific; they don’t need your meddling ways. They know what they’re doing and where to do it. Group Three sellers need some consideration as to their longevity in your system. Are they normally top-sellers just having a bad year or should they be looking for new and exciting work in the field of less-than-quota applied technologies?
No, the most important group for you in 2012 is Group Two. They can have the biggest impact on your organization with minimal resources spent to acquire that impact—low-hanging fruit on the tree.