Hatchet in the Forehead

(Just in time for Hal­loween, no less)

It was bound to hap­pen sooner or later.   Hell, it’s hap­pened to almost every­one I know.

No mat­ter how suc­cess­ful you’ve been in your posi­tion, or how many years you’ve built up your rep­u­ta­tion as an accom­plished sales pro­fes­sional, you’re only as good as your last quarter.

Unfor­tu­nately for me, I’d had two bad quar­ters in a row.  The third quar­ter showed dras­tic improve­ment in rev­enues booked, but it wasn’t enough.

So I get the on the phone with my boss for our weekly ter­ri­tory review, and am sur­prised to hear that my boss’s, boss is on the phone with us.  I know this is not going to be a pleas­ant conversation.

Com­pa­nies have a vari­ety of ways they mea­sure suc­cess for their sales teams.   Pro­fes­sional sales peo­ple are quota bear­ing, Ter­ri­to­ries are defined by account, ver­ti­cal mar­ket, geog­ra­phy, chan­nel, or a com­bi­na­tion of these factors.

Bot­tom line: you gotta sell.

One of my ear­li­est expo­sures to a man­ager out­side my dis­trict, was a pretty inter­est­ing char­ac­ter on may lev­els.  One of his “say­ings” always made me smile.  He had a motto, and was never shy to tell you “the def­i­n­i­tion of a sales­per­son, is one who sells something.”.

Then he’d ask  “Did you define your­self today?”

So back to my phone con­ver­sa­tion.   I was con­cerned that I hadn’t been defin­ing myself effi­ciently enough this fis­cal year.  Pre­dictably, my boss’s, boss  told me that my ser­vices were no longer being required.   In these truly tough eco­nomic times, medi­oc­rity can not be tol­er­ated.  It was posi­tioned as a reduc­tion in force, but it didn’t feel any better.

In the last lay­off my com­pany went through , one of my col­leagues was ranked #1 in his cat­e­gory, exceed­ing year-to-date quota, and even he was shown the door.  I will tell that this is the first and only time I’ve ever wit­nessed it.   I sim­ply point out that noone is immune.

No mat­ter what your per­sonal sit­u­a­tion, the moral of the story is, THERE IS NO LOYALTY anymore.

I urge all of you suc­cess­ful sales peo­ple, if you’re not already doing it, take care of num­ber one, first.

If you don’t have one yet, start an attaboy/attagirl file imme­di­ately.  Go back as far as you can, list­ing the doc­u­mented accom­plish­ments, high rank­ings, quota attain­ment, incen­tive trips, annual earn­ings and com­men­da­tions.   Keep this file in an easy to find place.

Always save the last 6 months of inquiries from head hunters, so you have a base of recruit­ing con­tacts to at least get started on a search.

Keep an up-to-date con­tact list of col­leagues (even those who pre­ceded you, in find­ing another place to be suc­cess­ful), busi­ness part­ners, influ­en­tial cus­tomers in your indus­try, men­tors, and per­sonal ref­er­ences who would be a value to you, should you have to begin a career search on short notice.

Sell­ing a lot, exceed­ing quota, meet­ing expec­ta­tions, is like the most pop­u­lar birth con­trol meth­ods.   About 98% effec­tive, even when used prop­erly.  Track your career, mile­stones and accom­plish­ments.  You’ll be much bet­ter  pre­pared to land on your feet quickly.Your efforts will be rewarded, if the Hatchet in the Fore­head finds its way to the front of your Mellon.

So the bright side — I have quite a bit more time to blog for Sales Swamis AND to work on that honey do list.  Two points of nag­ging out of the way.

Plus, I get to talk to a bunch of  folks about good oppor­tu­ni­ties … one door closes, one door opens.

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