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> 2019 reflections: ‘Ready, fire, aim’

Source: Electronics Representatives Association, The Representor Summer 2019, Executive Commentary

by Walter E. Tobin

Wow! Where has 2019 gone? Here we are HALF WAY through what was the New Year just a minute ago! Has EDS really come and gone? Did you go? Did you follow up on all of those action items — call or email the many new folks you met? It is never too late. It is also never too late to send a thank you email for a new lead, lunch or dinner, or just the opportunity to meet with him/her and pursue new opportunities together.

Do not be too tough on yourself if your calendar got away from you. It just means that you are busy, but “Carpe Diem” is the order of the day now. The year always starts off with lots of new plans, goals and initiatives — new markets to go after; new folks to find, hire and train — hoping that they bring in lots of new opportunities for your company in the New Year. We have all been brainwashed to think that NEW is always BETTER. The NEW model of car is most certainly better than last year’s model; the “new and improved” consumer product must be better … Manufacturers spend millions of dollars on developing new product introductions (NPI) that now become the NEW focused products that they want their reps and distributors to get designed-in, push the NEW stuff and hope the legacy stuff sells itself.

How is all of that working out so far? The mid-year point is upon us. It is time to pause and take a look to see how all of our NEW plans are taking shape. Are the new folks doing what we want/trained them for? Are our new products resonating with our new/existing customer base? Are we making our plan for the New Year that is now getting older each day?

There is a school of management that involves “ready, fire, aim” — ready (plan), fire (implement the plan and check on the results), aim (recalibrate and fire again). Some companies may be known for “ready, aim, aim.” They may never fire for fear of missing the target, for seeing their NPI initiatives not accepted by the customers. The fear of failure paralyzes the company. They continue to rely on their tried and true products — their legacy products —to sustain them; sort of like that famous sales example of the buggy whip manufacturer.

Do you know any companies like this? Of course you do!

We then have the “fire, fire, fire” companies. They hit a lot of targets but cause a lot of collateral damage while doing it, causing damage to their customers who cannot rely on them for consistency and conformity. They are quick to “end-of-life” (EOL) products. They cause damage to their own image as a disruptor to the market with tons of new stuff that never sticks around long enough to see if its introduction was a good or bad idea. You will never fail in your 90-day plan if you keep changing it every 60 days!

What are YOU doing at this mid-year point to evaluate your own company’s NEW plans for 2019? Do you ever change your plans, or do you leave them in place for fear that YOU may look bad if you admit that your plans were a bit flawed? Do you take sales budgets up or down for 2H 2019, or do you leave them in place knowing that you and your sales force have NO CHANCE of making budgets for 2019, jeopardizing incentive plans for 2019?

What about your non-sales goals — professional development, training, CRM training, new website launch, etc.? Do you shelve the investments planned for 2H 2019 because you will miss your plan? Many of these original investments may be just the thing you CANNOT afford to cut when the market gets soft!

Resetting goals is a tricky thing to do. We think about why we did not see the softer market coming … Were we too optimistic? Were our customers overconfident? Did the past two-plus years of a strong market lull us into complacency?

The best source of data to help you in your 2H planning process is the CUSTOMER!
Go, talk to them! What are THEY seeing? Talk to the marketing and sales force of your customers. What do THEY see? They are a great resource of information and market G-2 that most of us never talk to (or even know who they are).

Your companies are relying on YOU to guide them for 2H 2019. Which category are you in?

• Folks who MAKE IT HAPPEN?
• Folks who WATCH IT HAPPEN?

I know what category ALL of us see OURSELVES in … do others?

Let’s go MAKE IT HAPPEN for 2H 2019!

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