Friday, June 29, 2012

You Made Your Number! 4 Immediate Tactics For Next Quarter

For just about every company, private or public, the "end of quarter Friday" is either a reason to celebrate or a grave cause for concern. The CEO, CFO and VP of Sales have been exerting consistent pressure on darn near every functional area save for engineering in order to meet or exceed the number. At the end of the day...and literally, at the end of THIS day your sales organization will have either hit the number or missed the number. There are no Shades Of Grey (50 or otherwise) when it comes down to sales performance. You and your team made it...or you didn't. It is a cruel reality that the sales executive lives in. By the way, when you run your business on you most likely knew this past Monday or even before that the number was in hand or not. If you run your sales organization with a Sales Enablement solution from The Savo Group,  you would have dramatically increased your probability of success. Check them

Today, I have advice for sales executives and managers that MADE their number. First of all, congratulations! No matter how great your CEO thinks the product is and that it could sell itself, making the number in this market is tough. Pat yourself and your team on the back for a job well done. Now, exhale. Now, inhale. Good. It is time to focus on the next quarter which starts on Monday. Here are 4 tactics you can deploy in order to set the tone for next quarter's success:

1) Scour The Pipeline: Make sure you have an acutely accurate understanding of what transactions are real and can close within the first 20 days of next quarter. There are bound to be deals that pushed. Get on top of why each deal didn't close and assess the integrity of each. Start the quarter knowing exactly where you stand. 

2) Build On Success: You have momentum going for you. Don't let that momentum fade even though it is 4th of July week and a number of sales people are taking all or part of the week off. You can't afford to have the team mentally checkout one week of the quarter. I know, you will hear lot's of reasons that this next week will be slow. Don't buy into it. Those who do will regret it in about 10 weeks. Set the tone and make sure that everyone knows the number the organization MUST hit this quarter and what their individual quota numbers are. Schedule a conference call first thing Monday or at the latest Tuesday to get everyone on the same page.

3) Reward The Performers: There are a number of reasons why you hit your number. There are many people who contributed to making that happen. First, recognize each account executive or sales representative who met or exceeded plan. Do this in the next all hands meeting or on the upcoming conference call. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way. Sure, they will earn a nice commission check but kudos extended is very powerful.  Be sure to give thanks to the often unsung contributors in Sales Operations, Finance and Operations. These people work very hard in support of the sales team and deserve to be praised.

4) Fine Tune Your Plan: Be ready for the predictably classic line from your CFO as you walk by his office at the end of the day..."well, you got lucky and hit your number, what are you going to do for me next quarter?" Now....exhale. Now....inhale. Keep walking and remember that he (usually) just can't help himself. Ignore him for sure but do have your plan set when you walk in the door Monday.  This plan should include deal review, organizational assessment and changes required, key customer focus and risk analysis. If there is any bad news that needs to be dealt with, get out ahead of it. Don't wait to act. Expect everyone on your team to get their plans in place within two days of the new quarter. 

Again, congratulations on hitting the number. If for some reason you didn't my next post will be for you. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame. Rest and recover over the weekend. On Monday, the climb up the mountain starts all over again.

Mike Vanneman
TVG Executive Search.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 Steps To Interview Success

You have done everything right so far. Great resume, strong phone interview, made it past the internal recruiter and now you are scheduled for your first in-person interview with the hiring manager. It is at this point that the well prepared candidate can differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. That's what you want to do, right? Blow away the competition for this job! You are going to sit down in front of your soon to be new boss and wow them with your wit, personality and expertise. You are going to get this job! Confident? Ready? Not completely? Well, follow these five steps and you will be:

1) Research the industry and company: Everything you need to learn about your next employer is on the world wide web. Amazing! Look into the industry the company serves, how they are positioned, what market share they hold. Become familiar with the company's  services and products so you can refer to them in the flow of the interview. Be ready to present their product or service if asked. Smart candidates walk in to the interview knowing how to sell or market what they will be selling or marketing for the company they want to join. Type up several pithy and insightful questions that are relevant to the industry, company or role to ask during the interview. 

2) Image is everything: Present yourself in the most professional manner possible. When you aren't sure what to wear to the interview, think conservative dress. Leave the jeans, sandals, short skirt and lounge wear for the weekends. (Believe me... at TVG Executive Search...just when we thought we had seen it all...). Be well groomed and rested. Don't go out on a bender the night before. When you greet the hiring manager for the first time, step forward confidently, look them square in the eye and shake their hand firmly without fracturing their index finger. Positive first impressions create lasting impressions. Make the introduction count!

3) Don't get too personal: Establishing a solid rapport is essential. Elaborating on you recent vacation or bragging about your kids (or parrot) isn't a way to accomplish this. Certainly, you would have researched the hiring manager's background on LinkedIn and identified a few commonalities. If so, reference them discretely and indirectly in the conversation. Don't try to lay on the secret hand shake if you just happen fraternity brothers. You goal isn't to become BFFs in the interview. Your job is to get the job. Eight five percent or more of the conversation should be devoted to the opportunity. Fifteen percent or less should be about your personal life. If they ask you about your interests and hobbies, provide an answer without great detail. You will have plenty of time to get acquainted AFTER they hire you.

4) Ask for the job: These days, there is no such thing as an "informational interview".  If you are there interviewing, the assumption is that you want this job! If not, what the heck are you there for and why are you wasting their time! Therefore, as the interview is coming to a close, take the lead and say "based on everything we have discussed, I feel I am extremely qualified for this role and know I will be an outstanding contributor to the company's success. I very interested in joining your team. What are the next steps in the process?" They can answer any number of ways. The point is to ACT as though you are the "IT" and assume they will want you. Confidence is attractive. Ambivalence is not.

5) Follow up: Within 24 hours but not within the first hour, send the hiring manager an email thanking them for the opportunity to meet and recapping 3-5 reasons why you are the right person for the job. Call them within 48 hours to inquire about the next steps. If you don't hear back within a day after your call, call them again. I see nothing wrong with demonstrating a keen desire and consistent follow up until you get the answer that, a) you are moving forward in the process or, b) for some reason they went in a different direction. Either way, invite the hiring manager to connect on LinkedIn. You never know how that introduction could be of benefit in the future.

Act on these 5 points and you will stand out from the other candidates who didn't have the good fortune of reading my blog!

Mike Vanneman
Founder - TVG Executive Search