Maintaining Business Momentum: Get in GEAR

When it comes to maintaining business momentum, I try to relate it to things I am familiar with.  Most of us have ridden a bike.  We all learn on a fixie – a single gear bike.  Some start with training wheels that you can lean on, while others just have at it…all they need is a push to get started…and let momentum keep them upright and moving forward.  It’s an important lesson to learn, and sooner or later you find that if you stop moving forward…you will fall.  Hard.

Momentum is the key…how do we start moving forward…and how can we maintain momentum without exhausting ourselves?  That takes a little more thought, patience, commitment…and gears.

Admittedly, I have taken the bike thing a little further than most…if you are a cyclist, you know there is always a rabbit to chase – someone who you are trying to catch up to.  You constantly look for ways to ride faster and further, instead of…harder??? Does that make sense?

Here is where the crazy is…you know deep down that you NEED hours and hours in the saddle.  Days…Months…Years.  Hard work requires hard work.  Yet, impatience niggles at you and you get frustrated because you don’t PERCEIVE progress.  You don’t feel faster or stronger because you really can’t compare.  Unless you are tracking results.

There is some good news! There are things you can do to help you get over the lows in your training.  Little fixes that help you get off of the plateau and a little further up the hill.

  • Fit:  The best position for power, comfort and aerodynamics
  • Equipment:  Improvements to create less drag
  • Gears:  Simply knowing what gear to use, and when, can save huge amounts of energy

It’s really…science.  You need to tinker and test and take notes.  And make changes.

Applications in Business:  The concept applies to managing a sales team – or any organization.  You don’t just wake up one day and see that your team has achieved their goals overnight, winning larger and more profitable deals at a faster rate.  You don’t find yourself magically delivering service levels, or processing orders more efficiently.  Improvement takes time…but over that time, you need to see progress, or you will LOSE momentum.

You need to tinker and test and take notes.  And make changes.

Create Momentum:  Smallest Gear FIRST!  Climb on your bike…crank a small gear and get moving forward.

Don’t kill yourselves by tackling the hardest problem first.  That’s really hard to do. Let’s say you drive your team to find more 7 figure deals, and they do…but the order management process is so fractured that it cripples your business. Congratulations…you just sold your way into trouble.

You need a plan.  Know your limitations and focus on improving them one small gear at a time.  Document the plan…and follow it.  When problems appear – address it immediately and make note of it.

Maintain Momentum:  Same Cadence at higher speeds with a BIGGER gear.  My buddy Aaron knows all about the physics of this.  I am a bit more pedestrian.  If I can go faster with the same pedal stroke, that’s what I want to do. A bigger gear helps me do that.

You can’t ride 20 MPH in 1st gear.  Quit spinning your wheels and look at what you are doing. Picking up the phone more quickly doesn’t help if customers aren’t calling.  Week after week, ask your team what they are doing to create activity…track their activity and see the trends in the data.  Give them the tools to see the trends themselves.   Then choose the RIGHT activity.

To do this right, you need to clearly outline expectations and be certain the team understands them.  Give them the reports to show where their  opportunities are and hold them accountable to progress them.  Start with simple things:

  1. Pipeline 
  2. Close Date 
  3. Sales Stage 
  4. Steps to Progress 
  5. Close PLAN 

If they can’t speak to any one of the 1-5…they have an action.  Contact their targets.  Contact the customer or members of their extended team (or BOTH) and confirm deal details.  Etc… More communication, not less.  This does not need to be complex!

Track the Progress: I train for triathlons with a heart rate monitor, a cadence monitor, a gps unit and a power meter.  I collect data every time I ride.  I have apps that take that data and map out my progress over time.  These tools extinguish impatience.  They remind me that I have a plan.  I want to finish whatever race/event I am training for within a certain amount of time, without injury.

I focus on the things I can control and expect that things I can’t control (mechanical, weather, bad luck) will happen.  And when they do, I pivot…adjust…DEAL with it.

Track your team weekly.  Use your CRM Tool.  My team uses Salesforce. Whatever your team uses, get comfortable with it and make it your foundation.  The idea is to make it easy to see where the gaps are.  In order to do that, the CRM Tool (let’s just say Salesforce) has to be the ONLY repository of account information and opportunity updates.  Let the reports and dashboards paint the picture.

Salesforce has to be HOW the team communicates.  It’s like learning how to use Twitter, Facebook, Hootsuite…Use it enough, you learn the language.  Adopt the process and it becomes a part of your daily ritual.

Creating momentum is the easy part.  Maintaining momentum requires more effort, preparation and awareness.  Take the tools you have and use them.  Tinker with them until they fit.  Crank the gear you need for the hills and dips in your business cycle, and keep your power output steady over time.

Build a plan.  Work the plan.  Adjust the plan.  Every week…and shift gears.


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