Skip to content
Oct 1 19

Disciplined Execution, The Secret To Success!

by David Brock

Human beings are always looking for the secrets to success. Somehow, we want to believe there is the “one thing” that drives success. In sales and marketing, we are no different. We constantly look for that silver bullet that drives sales and marketing success.

And there is no end to those gurus or vendors that claim to have discovered that “one thing,” that enables you to be successful. It may be a new technology, it may be a new training approach. For some, social selling is that one thing, for others it’s prospecting (in whatever form that takes), for others it’s story telling, for others it’s just the web based content.

We move from one silver bullet to the next to the next, with the same results–we never find the secret to sustained success. Sure, these new things may drive short term increases, but seldom are sustainable. And then as our competitors are doing the same things, these secrets to success are no longer secrets and no longer unique to us.

We continue to search for these miracle cures, silver bullets, and quick fixes. The reality, however, is the secret to success has been in front of us all the time. This secret has been the same for decades, if not centuries or millenia.

The secret to success is Disciplined Execution.

If we examine what drives and sustains great performance, it is constancy and disciplined execution.

Any research I’ve seen on what drives great organizational and individual performance, shows a number of things:

  • Great organizations aren’t any smarter than the mediocre.
  • Great organizations don’t necessarily have better or more disruptive strategies than the mediocre.
  • Great organizations aren’t any luckier than the mediocre (though they know how to exploit the luck better).

What separates great organizations from the mediocre ends up being constancy of purpose, culture, and disciplined execution.

Somehow, we think it can’t be that simple. But it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Disciplined execution is tedious, it’s detailed, it’s not sexy–almost boring. And perhaps that’s why we fail. We love the adrenalin rush of the next new thing, not the things that, when consistently executed, produce results.

Disciplined execution has several components:

  • Disciplined people: People who have the personal discipline to understand what works and are driven to execute consistently. Disciplined people consistently to the things that work and don’t do the things that don’t work. And they do those things every day, they create habits that drive sustained success.
  • Disciplined thinking: This is a relentless focus on the truth, however bad it might be. It is a focus on facts and data, understanding what reality is, analyzing the information critically, to determine the best course forward.
  • Disciplined action: Taking what we have learned and acting on it–but in a structured way, focused on the long term. Disciplined people and disciplined thinking leads to process focused action. It is figuring out what things produce results and doing them consistently. It is adjusting and changing in a disciplined, rigorous manner.

Disciplined execution is hard work! But it produces sustained results, and the research around top performing companies reinforces this.

Over the past few months, many have read about the results we are seeing from the implementation of the Sales Execution Framework (SEF). The SEF provides a structure or model of how to look at the interrelationships between everything we co in maximizing sales performance.

The magic underlying the success people have in implementing the SEF is Disciplined Execution.

Afterword: If you are interested in learning more about this, this podcast discussion between Jim Collins and Shane Parrish is fascinating.

Be Sociable, Share!
Sep 30 19

Prospecting, Going Through The Motions

by David Brock

Today I received a prospecting email, something about it seemed familiar.

I did a quick search through my email archive (I save this stuff, it’s such great fodder for blog posts).

Sure enough, 90 days ago, I received the exact same email from the same person. And 90 days before that, I received the same email form the same person. And 90 days before that, …….

For each of the prior emails, I had actually responded. My first response thanked the sender for the outreach, but I explained why we wouldn’t be interested (What they sold didn’t fit our business strategy or priorities.) The second response was a little impatient, “You asked me about this 90 days ago and I said it wasn’t a fit, the answer hasn’t changed. This is not a part of our business strategy.” The third response was very impatient, “Haven’t you paid attention to my previous responses? Why do you continue to waste your time and my time with these emails?”

I received no responses to my responses. Nothing like, “Thanks for the response Dave, I really appreciate you taking the time….”

Today, I looked at the calendar, yes, it’s 90 days after the last email. Again, the email was word for word the same as the previous one. This doesn’t deserve a response, nor will the one I know I will receive in another 90 days, and 90 days later.

Yet, this sales person is producing results–actually without doing any work. He is meeting his numbers in outbound emails. The email data will show the email was opened, it will actually show an actual response. The manager reviewing that data will be happy, the sales person is hitting his numbers. The problem is that none of this will lead to revenue!

But he is accomplishing nothing–or worse, he has created a negative impression of the company. I am glad to share the name of this company with any of my followers, I am glad to suggest they never consider this company for business.

I wish this were unusual, but it is more the rule than the exception. At least 90% of the email prospecting I get, should never have been sent to me. My company is the wrong target, I am the wrong target, the email is poorly structured, it focuses on them and what they want to achieve, nothing that may be of interest to me. I respond to a number of them, saying I have no interest and asking them to cease mailing. But to no avail.

Now here’s the absurdity of all this—when I meet with sales and marketing people, their lament is, “No one responds to our email or prospecting efforts! We can’t get our prospects to respond!” Sadly, some of the companies I meet with are the source of these bad emails and marketing efforts.

We have created this problem and are training our prospects how to deal with (read avoid) our prospecting. Even those organizations that do a thoughtful job of targeting and prospecting suffer from the sloppy thinking and execution of the majority of organizations.

Aren’t we better than this? Why do we accept this level of performance within our own organizations or within our profession?

Be Sociable, Share!
Sep 30 19

What About The Forecast?

by David Brock

Forecasting is important to our business, we spend a lot of time (often too much) on forecasts. But too often, we get forecasting wrong. Some observations:

We strive for forecast accuracy, but we will never be perfectly accurate. Even the dictionary calls it a prediction or an estimate. Yet we waste a lot of time trying to achieve levels of accuracy that are unreasonable.

The forecast is a prediction of revenue/orders we expect to get in a period of time. Managers and others in the business are anxious to know where we will be in terms of expected revenue or orders.

The forecast is really about a deal, a specific opportunity. Too often, we focus on a certain total dollar value for the forecast. “We need to hit $100M this quarter…..” But the business needs more specificity, the business needs to know, “What are people buying?” Too often, sales people focus on the total revenue or orders that will be generated. But the business needs to know much more. The business needs to know, “What are people buying?” If you provide a product, manufacturing needs to know what parts to order and products that need to be built. If you develop services, the services organization needs to know what skills/resources will be required. If you sell software/SaaS offerings, customer experience needs to prepare to onboard customers in the right ways.

We get this part of the forecast wrong, too often, in sales. We focus on the number and not the deals. If we forecast selling $100M of product line A, yet in the end get $100M orders of product line B, we’ve failed our company. Even though we have hit the number, we have absolutely failed.

The forecast is less about what we think and more about the customer need to buy. Ironically, when we forecast, we talk about what we think will happen or what we need to make happen. We’ve all been part of conversations like, “We need another $10M, what can you make happen?” Or those forecast meetings where we say, “Tell me what you need, I’ll make it happen.” We know these things seldom happen, but we’ve gotten management off our backs or given them the number they wanted.

Forecasts become more accurate if we use “customer verified forecasts.” We need to know answers to, “When does the customer need to have a solution in place? What happens if they don’t have it in place at that time? Does the customer have a sense of urgency around meeting that date?” But if we are managing our deal strategies correctly, we should already know this and be aligned with the customer in helping them achieve these goals.

Yet, 90% of forecast meetings I participate in never pose these questions. Instead we rely on the wishful thinking of sales people trying to keep managers happy.

Forecasting will never be totally accurate, even customer verified forecasts. But we can make them more accurate and more useful.

Be Sociable, Share!
Sep 29 19

Bit And Pieces, September 29, 2019

by David Brock

Just a quick book recommendation, On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder.

It’s a fascinating read, not just because of his take on current politics. He looks at how the roots of what we see happening in the US (and the world) can be analyzed against similar things that have happened in global politics throughout the past century.

But, looking beyond that, I was fascinated about the applicability of his lessons outside of politics–to business, and to our social interactions. For me, applying those lessons to how businesses grow and thrive, what drives them to succeed or fail gave me a number of “Aha,” moments.

You may not agree with Mr. Snyder’s politics and the conclusions of his analysis, but his principles applied to our business lives are very insightful and things we can learn from.

Be Sociable, Share!