A year ago this past August, I was released from University Hospital here in Cincinnati. Doctors Augsburger and Correa had performed radioactive plaque surgery on my right eye. The plaque stayed attached to my right eye for 5 days with a lead eye patch covering it. I was confined to a lead-lined room. On the 25th, they removed the plaque (disc), sutured the eye and then sent me home for recovery. I was back to work the following Monday.
I share this story in an attempt to relate “life happens” to sales management.
Life happens in sales and sales management. When attempting to manage a sales team, “life happens.”
- The economy tanks
- A top producer leaves
- A new producer that you thought would set the world on fire is going on a PIP
- The company has changed its product mix, offerings or pricing
- A new competitor has come to town
- A new compensation plan is being implemented
- A new CRM tool is being implemented
- The Department of Labor passes new regulations, changing the sales landscape for an entire industry
Despite all the changes and all the “life happens” events that come your way as a sales manager, you are left with one ultimate objective – meet/exceed the sales targets established by the company. Despite all the obstacles and challenges, at the end of the day, someone in the company is going to look to you and want to know if your team is going to hit the sales goal.
A month after my departure from University Hospital, I met with an oncologist. Prior to the meeting, I had a blood test completed and a CT scan. Both tests are designed to look for cancer cells possibly lurking somewhere in my body. I am to continue this testing every 6 months for the next three years. I will see my ophthalmologist once every 6 months. At the end of each time period, all that matters is this: Did I go another six months and stay cancer free?
So, what do you do to get from diagnosis – life event, business event, etc. – to whatever happens next? Answer: You do everything possible to improve the odds for success. That is what you do.
I have another doctor. Dr. Peter Shang practices eastern medicine and is a former practicing oncologist. When I visited with him the first time, he told me one really important thing: Cancer hates a healthy body. He told me that we needed to find out how healthy my blood was and make it healthier so that it could effectively fight any cancer cells. He also told me that cancer loves sugar. And he told me that regardless of how healthy I thought I was, I needed to get healthier. This meant exercising 5 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.
Here are steps that are similar in personal health related problems and business problems:
- Pay attention to the symptoms
- Get a diagnosis to identify the root cause
- Analyze the root cause and identify solutions
- Determine if the outcome for doing nothing is acceptable
- If doing nothing is unacceptable, take action
- Check your commitment to stick to the plan – you must have a non-negotiable reason to stick to it
I just had the second of my six-month checkups for eye, blood and body scan. All are good. Also, I’ve continued to work, play tennis and golf. I monitor my steps, my workouts, and my food intake. I’d like to report that I’m completely off of all sugar, but I have my lapses. I was in a great habit of not eating sugar and then, when I hit a body weight target, I allowed myself to celebrate with my greatest food weakness – ice cream. (If you see me and we are dining, don’t let me eat dessert!)
I work out consistently, and I am healthier now than I’ve been in at least 30 years. Every time I work out, I talk to cancer. I tell it that it had better be ready for a fight because that’s what it’s in for. I work out and think about others who are fighting the fight. Doug, Ray, Cherie, Brooke and Jerry all are fighting the fight for health. But… the major motivation is my wife, Linda. She is my non-negotiable reason to stay the course and fight the fight.
In business, you have to have that non-negotiable reason to fight the fight, to overcome the obstacles, challenges, and setbacks. You are not always going to win the battle every second, every minute or every hour. But, win the battle every day. Then your days become weeks and the weeks become months and the months become the first year.
In the words of the flight director of Apollo 13, “Failure is not an option!”