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Business As Usual By Stuart Friedman

Great Leaders Get Realistic And Objective About ResultsStuart Friedman, Business As Usual

May 7, 2013 – The leader of a Business Development (bus-dev) team has been frustrated for a year and a half . . . and counting.

Three years ago, his CEO announced a heartfelt goal: “Let’s triple topline results, double profitability and earn a 200 percent bonus in year five.” The goal was a stretch, but not out of reach. Fairly new, company sales had been strong and were getting stronger as familiarity with their product grew. Marketing efforts were focused on reinforcing and supporting sales. Return on Investment (ROI) was measured, and their overall strategies – with a few tweaks here and there as needed – were working.

Recently, the bus-dev leader revisited actual vs. planned numbers for his six-person team, evaluating each team member individually, including himself. The numbers showed they were behind. Apparently, one person he was counting on to help drive the team’s success had not been fully engaged for at least a year. The leader knew this person had faced some personal challenges, but had hoped his “top gun” would come out of it. But the numbers did not lie. One year later, his “top gun” remained disengaged.

What happened? Three years ago, the CEO had made the company’s goals clear and everyone was thrilled at the prospect of achieving a 200 percent bonus. To a person, the bus-dev leader and his team committed to be accountable to and reinforce one another for the duration.

Hold that thought! Three years have passed since the goal was stated and the strategy created, and only now the bus-dev leader is wondering: “What happened?” Can you say, “Business as usual?”

Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, says that people who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetimes as the people who do not. Yet 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals, and while 16% do have goals they don’t write them down. Less than 4% write down their goals, and less than 1% actually review them regularly. (Guess which 1% that is?)

Here are some things for the bus-dev leader and his team to consider as they wonder how they are going to achieve their goals:
• Everyone on the team must have a purpose. Making money is not a purpose. It is a result (unless, of course, you work at the U.S. Mint).
• The work must be something each member is good at and enjoys doing.
• The team must share the same values and the same work ethic.
• They need to ask, “Do we count on each other for expertise we don’t have?” and “Do we have each other’s back?” and “Do we have unconditional trust?”
• Team members must engage in activities that support goals, rather than get distracted by the “noise” around them.
• They need to determine if they are focused on the right activities:
– “Do we go to networking functions attended by the people with which we want to engage in business, or do we just happen to like a particular buffet?”
– “Do we fret about the end dollar-sales every day, or do we focus on the front-end funnel of prospects and customers?”
– “Do we meet weekly to review results? If so, are we honest with each other or are we all talk about ‘the possibilities’ of a prospective customer versus taking a more pragmatic view, such as ‘I met a prospect with an ongoing need for a multi-million-piece purchase. I have a second meeting to get to know the customer next week.’”

If you want results, you must make them happen. The results you want simply won’t happen to you.

Some parting advice for our beleaguered bus-dev leader:
1. Get focused on your goals and activities to achieve them.
2. Set timeframes to complete these activities.
3. Keep the front-end funnel filled with prospects and customers. Assign a probability for each sale as time progresses. If the chance of a sale with a prospect falls below 50 percent, move on to another client or customer and put him or her in the front-end funnel.
4. Meet weekly to review results. Learn what’s working, what’s not and what you need to do differently. Collaborate!
5. Get realistic and objective about your results rather than hopeful and wishful. “Hoping” and “wishing” are not strategies and they are not implementation. It’s your choice . . .

(Stuart Friedman is president of Progressive Management Associates, Inc. He is a business visionary who helps his clients get their companies “Unstuck!” He guides organizations through cultural shifts by getting people aligned to strategic outcomes. He is a leading consultant, speaker, coach, and author. Stuart can be reached at stuart@pma-co.com.)