January 3, 2006
Sales is Humming!
In my last post, I described how the CEO, like the drummer, sets the overall beat of the organization. This post is meant to show how the sales group taps with the CEOs beat.
The chart below shows how a VP Sales manages within the context of the overall beat. Again, the horizonal axis is the day of the year (the full chart is one year) and the vertical axis is time horizon of the VP Sales focus (i.e., a 10 day time horizon means the VP of sales is focused up to 10 days out on that day of the year).
- As with the CEO beat, the VP Sales graph has the distinguishing characteristics of the strategic review in the August timeframe, the annual planning session in mid-November, and the quarterly meetings that review progress from the prior quarter and make adjustments for the remainder of the year.
- Somewhat smaller on the chart above (see the close-up of the first two weeks of each quarter on the chart below for this point), the VP sales starts every week looking out over the remainder of the quarter (roughtly 90 days the first day of the quarter and 83 days one week out) and then focuses in on the executing near-term for the rest of the week (note that the time horizon of focus is 4-days on Tuesday, 3-days on Wednesday, 2-days on Thursday, and 1-day on Friday).
Finally, I superimposed the CEO chart from my prior post so that you can see how the CEO focal points fits well with the VP Sales focal points (the two are in rhythm!). There are two key differences with the graphs. First, the VP Sales focuses on very tactical accomplishments each week (gets the work done) and only steps back to examine the rest of the quarter once a week. Second, the VP Sales spends some extra time before and after the CEOs quarterly, annual, and strategic sessions to both prepare and to incorporate feedback into the plans.
The point here is not to debate exactly what the focus is at any point of the year (every company will be different), but to point out that there is a regular rhythm set by the CEO that the rest of the organization fits into, in this case sales. Also, it is meant to show that most of the time the VP of sales should be extremely tactical, but also step back at different points to take a longer term view and make adjustments to the plan (similar to the way I swim…I swim for a while and then need to poke my head out of the water and make corrections to my path).
As with the CEO, the two mistakes that VP Sales seem to make is either tactically executing all the time (thereby missing the larger context and opportunities for adjustment) OR spend too much time on the longer-term plans and waste time that they could be executing. It is difficult to get it exactly right, but perhaps thinking in terms of a rhythm helps.
My next post is on the marketing rhythm…