With the midpoint of the calendar year behind us, and the distractions of summer in full swing, there is likely a temptation among your employees to lose focus in the second half of the year. In truth, it’s more than a temptation. It’s a reality that must be managed, both for high and under-performers alike.
Managing people is a year-round obligation but it’s on the downhill side of the year when it is especially important. With revenue projections perhaps under target, and the window for closing sales narrowing, a focused plan that lays out measurable performance metrics is critical. We call these plans “cookbooks” as they hold the recipe for success. Here are some necessary ingredients.
Take stock. First, conduct an honest assessment of where you currently stand, and an even more candid projection as to how you see the rest of the year playing out. It’s best to turn a deaf ear to the optimistic assurances coming from the VP of sales that the second half will be better. Instead, do the hard math on how much of a shortfall you can likely anticipate.
Set the right temperature. Once you’ve determined the revenue gap, make sure your strategy for closing it in the second half of the year accounts for the length of your sales cycle. In reality, you actually have less than six months when you consider how long it takes between prospecting and closing sales. Second-half execution needs to be compressed if you are going to see real results by year-end.
Measure. Your cookbook should include a list of goals for each member of the team -- not lofty, aspirational goals, but a concrete set of actionable behaviors that everyone is personally accountable for. Perhaps it’s five new referrals, two trade show trips and 12 unique, new conversations with prospects.
Ideally, the cookbook goals should be set in the beginning of the year, so use the midway point to reassess where everyone is. If the goals are not being met, put a plan in place with concrete steps for improving performance.
Mix it up. Contests work especially well in the third and fourth quarters. Set short-term timeframes for them -- say, 30 days at a time -- and don’t focus them all on revenue goals. Instead, focus on cookbook goals such as the most unique conversations in a month or the most LinkedIn referrals over two weeks. These incremental, actionable goals will keep your folks focused and lay the foundation for achieving longer-term objectives.
Make sure it’s done. One challenge is keeping under-performers on task and helping them make their second-half revenue goals. Managing high performers is its own challenge. Salespeople who have hit their year-end targets by mid-year are just as problematic, and likely even more susceptible to coasting in the latter part of the year, fearful that continuing to produce will only cause their quota for next year to increase.
The temptation is often to leave high performers to their own devices but, unless they also are managed actively with their own cookbooks, they can cost your company significant, never-realized revenue. To help them maintain their momentum, make sure you are challenging them with their own, daily actionable goals and activities. Given their success to date, they should also consider growing existing accounts. From a practical perspective, this is five times less expensive than taking on a new account.
From a management standpoint, the second-half of the year should not be all that dissimilar than the first. Tactics may change and goals evolve, but managers should continually ensure that their employees are executing the plan set out for them. If they are not, effective managers will find ways to remedy sub-par performance.
Managing is not like a New Year’s resolution, a commitment that is well-intentioned at the outset of the year but typically forgotten by Groundhog Day. Know this: If your company is not working at full-speed throughout the entire year, some of your competitors likely are.
Related: Build a Stellar Sales Team