The Alphabet Article Series – The ABCs of Solving Sales Problems – The 3 “D’s”

If you have been following the series from the beginning, or if this is the first time you’ve checked in on this series, thank you for being here. As I mentioned in the 3 “A’s” my goal with this series is simple, to help those around me, so hopefully you are getting something worthwhile that makes you and your team better.

The 3 D’s are as follows:                Data                      Discipline            Directives

I know, I know, it’s the “not so fun stuff” of marketing and sales. But these 3 are CRITICAL to your success, and as such, they need to be not only addressed here, but monitored continuously.

Data. I am a self-professed data geek. The truth is I hated math in high school, and unless the numbers I was learning had $$ signs attached to it, I was usually tuned out. But these numbers are exciting all on their own. Why?

The numbers I am referring to here will CREATE the $$ signs for you. How special is that?!

But before we get too excited too soon, it’s important to look a bit deeper here. Data should be at the core of every single marketing and sales approach you take. And if you are a services-based company, this should also be at the core of what you provide your clients. So, why am I so geeked on data? Simple, data doesn’t lie. It doesn’t have feelings or opinions. There is no trophy for participating here, my friends. What’s more, if you learn how to not only read and interpret, but LISTEN to the data, it will tell you when, where and why to pivot. It should be looked at as the voice of your prospects, the sounds of the marketplace speaking directly to you. And, once you’ve truly learned to listen, you will get better and better at making adjustments that both resonate with your prospect population and save you time and money in your efforts along the way.

Discipline. If you’ve ever spoken directly with me or been at one of the many conferences where I’ve been invited to speak, you’ve heard me talk about discipline in your marketing approach. Let me drill down a bit here. One of the biggest weaknesses in any marketing or sales strategy is lack of discipline. It’s not that your team doesn’t WANT to do well – it’s often more a case of where priorities fall. Couple that with the number of priorities given to any given sales team and it’s no wonder why this is the first thing to waver.

Enter the “SALES HAND” analogy. What Mike? What is sales hand? Bear with me…

If you open your hand wide and look at your palm, this analogy will become clearer. I would label your thumb “prospecting”, your forefinger “analyze”, your middle finger “propose”, your ring finger “negotiate” and your pinky finger “close”. Hence, the sales hand. Now, let me pose a question – what is the first thing to go when a new opportunity is dumped in the lap of your best salesperson? C’mon – you know, we all know – it’s the THUMB. Prospecting comes to a screeching halt. Especially because it requires the most discipline and is the least attractive part of any sales person’s responsibilities.

All the more reason you need to have a plan in place. I like to tell people who are considering using EagleONE as support for their sales and marketing efforts that the difference between my front-line troops and their executive sales team is simple. My folks are not confused about what their role is. They know they have been given the important responsibility of driving in new activity for our clients. And they do it EVERY DAY, in a strategic and disciplined way that is based in part on what the data is telling us. They don’t focus on the four fingers; they focus on the THUMB.

Now THAT’s discipline. And that’s the kind of discipline your team needs to have in their approach.

Directives. Simply put, directives are marching orders. But since most business owners or sales leaders are not running one of our armed forces branches (As an Army brat of a father was with the 101st Airborne Division, a sincere thanks to all men and women in our armed forces), I need to flush this out a bit. Directives are orders for sure, but I’d like you to think about them in a fluid, on-going way. EagleONE likes to say that we are a seamless extension of our clients out in the marketplace, doing all the “ditch digging and bush beating” for them. So, for you internally, it means that the “heavy lifting” of your process, your interpretation of data, and your discipline should be SHARED. From ownership to sales management to new salesperson cutting their teeth, when directives are issued, they should be the responsibility of anyone in the organization who touches or is influenced by your sales and marketing process. In other words, if the orders are important enough to issue in the first place, they are important enough to be a shared responsibility. And accountability for them should be part of your CAUSE.

I know these letters in the series feel a bit like getting back to the gym as a part of your New Year’s resolution. They are not only a bit stiff, but when first engaging, can be painful. There is a real learning curve here too, make no mistake. Data is easily misinterpreted, sales personalities can make a company-wide discipline difficult to implement and maintain, and directives can be taken a myriad of ways creating a gap in expectations between those delivering them and those receiving them. So, plan on a few hurdles, a few mistakes, and go in with the mindset that you will have to learn what is ultimately best for your team. Don’t let analysis paralysis creep in though – don’t over-talk it – don’t over-think it – don’t over-plan it.

As my father used to say from his Army days: “Move Out, Draw Fire, Adapt, Overcome.”

Getting into action, learning your market and your team, making appropriate adjustments based on each of them, and then throttling up success will take work, but will increase morale AND your bottom line.

Put people first, use the 3 “D’s” as they can benefit you best, and know that I am here to help or just chat, should you ever want to discuss what’s best for your team.

To raising all ships!

P.S. Be sure to join us next week when we talk about the 3 E’s – Engage, Evolve, Elevate