Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Change Is Inevitable - December 13, 2014

After college I spent several years working in the sales and marketing departments for DeWalt Power Tools. This was twenty years ago and DeWalt at that time was still considered a young up and comer in the world of handheld power tools. The company began its dominance in certain market segments and was adding new product lines every few months. It was during this period of my career that I realized change is inevitable.


It can be tough to greet change with a smile. Planning for change can be difficult because of the unknowns associated with it. However, accepting change is inevitable is the first step in making sure you can manage change when it does occur. And so, as my sales team and I are preparing our final drafts of our own 2015 sales plans, I am reminded to greet change with a smile because it is inevitable.


I’ve been in my role long enough now to be able to spot change on the horizon. And, while you may not be able to fully prepare for change, there are certain tactics or approaches I’ve taken over the years to account for when change does take place. Here are a few examples:


·         Client Losses and Gains > We all want to sell more in the coming year than we did in the previous. This is what drives an ‘A’ level sales person. Compensation is increased when sales increase. Naturally, this would drive a sales person to focus on the gains for the coming year, as in who will become new clients, what services will I sell, what will the revenue increases look like. But, there is always the possibility of losing a client or two, or not gaining the new client that has been hot in the pipeline. Advice given to me a long time ago that I’ve used every year since is this – plan your year as if you were to lose your number one client. What does the year then look like? What will it take to replace this client and still gain? Why might your number one client leave you? Although this is not a pleasant thought, the exercise in and of itself opens the door to greater possibilities on how you can plan, scale and manage your growth plan for the New Year. And, just think, if you keep your number one client and apply your plan as if you were to lose them by some chance, you will end up exceeding your goals.


·         Personal (not professional) Goals > I do not consider myself a materialistic person. I don’t follow the latest clothing trends day in and day out. I don’t drive a flashy car. I am more comfortable coming to the office in jeans than I am a suit. I consider myself pretty down to earth. However, I do have personal goals that I set for myself. And yes, some may seem a little bit materialistic. Take for example my love for Florida. I can do without the traffic, but I absolutely enjoy spending time on the Gulf Coast beaches with my wife and children. One of my personal goals each year is to spend at least one week in Florida doing nothing but soaking up the sun and splashing in the water with the kids. You may ask why I mention this in my personal goals and what this has to do with my sales plan for the coming year? I plan my trips a full year in advance. If I am not hitting my sales numbers, if my team is underperforming, then the likelihood of me taking such a trip is reduced. I have drawn a direct correlation between my vacation and my business success. How could I even think of leaving town for a week or ten days if I am under-performing? This approach, tying my personal goals to my professional goals, allows me to always (as in 24/7/365) keep myself in check. I encourage my sales team to do the same. It is a simple exercise – make a short list of things you’d like to purchase or places you’d like to visit and then set a professional goal next to each. Obtaining the personal goal is reward for achieving the professional. Before you know it you’ll be setting higher and higher goals for yourself on a personal level which will directly impact your sales performance in a very positive manner.


·         Reflection > Sometimes this can be the hardest part of my sales planning process to talk about. It is personal. I am not an overly religious person, but I do have what I call a set of faith-based standards that I try to adhere to in living my life. I love my wife and children very much and would do anything to make and keep them happy and healthy. Reflection, at least to me, is an opportunity to think about all of the positive and negative “things” that have happened to me over the past year. Did I lose the weight that I’ve been trying to lose? Did I speak kindly to those that may be going through a harder time than me? Did I offer my help to someone in need, whether I knew them or not? Did I handle my sales calls in absolutely the most professional manner? Was I the person that I wanted to be? Of course, I’m only human, and so I know the real answers are not always what I want them to be. Through this reflective time, through a review of my daily and weekly journaling, I give thanks for what I have and where I’ve come from, and I layout my plans for how I can do a better job in the coming year. This is the one that may sound a little sappy, but I truly believe that my business success, especially in sales, only comes from my drive to be good in my personal life. I believe my reflection time is the most valuable of my annual sales planning and allows me clarity to layout my strategic plan for hitting my personal and professional goals.


Change is inevitable. Embrace the idea of change. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but knowing something may come to you unexpectedly, not planned for, or changed from the original idea, and being willing to embrace whatever hand is dealt to you, will allow you to shine in the face of change. Success in sales comes to those who can handle change and the unexpected. Stay focused and keep selling.

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