September is here and for a lot of companies this month marks the beginning of Strategic Planning Season. This is the time of year that my dates start to get confused… am I finishing 2020 or planning for 2021?
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to throw 2020 a “Going Away” party… but I digress.
In preparation for our annual off-site sales meeting, I was asked to talk about the state of the economy. As I dug into the economists’ predictions for 2021, I found the data to be pretty bleak and depressing. Most believe that we will not see a recovery to the 2019 levels until 2022, but you cannot write off the year of 2021.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” ~ Winston Churchill
Things will never be the same so we must figure out how to operate in our “new” normal. As I began planning for the sales meeting, I found myself reverting to old ways of trying to micromanage the process. Each salesperson needs their own sales goal but how they get to their goal does not have to be a written road map.
You see, as we started looking at the customer resource management (CRM) dashboard, we were inclined to start telling each salesperson how many calls to make and on what frequency to each client. This is where I took a gut check… and it did not feel good. So, I got to thinking, what do I really want the outcome of this meeting to be?
It hit me one evening. I was about to go down the coaching for compliance path but what I really needed to do was coach with compassion. Most of us are used to the coaching for compliance path. We are given a goal and then pushed to meet it.
The coaching for compassion path is different. A person envisions their future, assesses where they are currently, identifies gaps and then puts a learning agenda in place which changes behaviors in order to reach their goal. I don’t know about you, but this path feels a lot better to me.
In fact, I have been on both paths. In 2016, I was on the coaching for compliance path. I got a bad score on a portion of my annual performance appraisal because I did not write a manufacturing plan. Instead of writing the plan, I had identified the issue and moved the entire operation across town… I had executed the plan. The following year I asked to only be given high level goals and allowed to figure out the road map to attaining them myself.
What does all this have to do with the annual sales meeting? Everything! We are in one of the most turbulent times in my work history. We never thought the pandemic would last this long and we are unsure of when it will end. But the fact remains, we must move forward. In order to do that, we must think differently.
After a pivot on the meeting agenda, I am pleased to say we are focusing on the right things.
Economics: Yes, we are in a recession. We are all in the same boat together. Are you going to lead through it or manage reactively?
Processes: Visiting clients in person is alright in some cases but some people are not back in the office yet and may not be for some time to come. How are you going to reach them?
Strategy: Now that the world has changed, do you have products and services that are obsolete? Have you noticed each country is working to ensure they produce what they need to survive? Does this change your focus?
Our sales and marketing team will spend our time looking positively at our future. We will work to identify areas in which we need to expand and areas we may contract. We are inviting a client to the meeting so that we get a better understanding on what is important to them and what value we bring.
The goal is to leave the meeting inspired to hit the goal for the 2021. Working together, I know we can make it happen… our future is bright!