Jack Derby

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Is Your Sales Team on Track for a Good Year?

Posted by Jack Derby on Mar 3, 2014 11:03:00 AM

You're two months into the year, and already you should have a pretty good idea as to whether your sales team is tuned, armed with the right tools and ready for another rough-and-tumble few quarters.

Sales ManagementJust a few questions you should be asking yourself right now:

  1. Are you confident that your sales and marketing teams are aligned, working cooperatively and taking full advantage of new technologies?
  2. Do you have a formal, but flexible enough sales process where everyone is playing by the same rules, with the same playbook and on the same team?
  3. What should your sales channel mix look like in the future? Which web-based investments should you make to support your sales efforts?
  4. Do you have enough sales people, reps or distributors? Are they the right people with the right skills for the future? Is your organization’s hiring, culture and goal-setting aligned with the new sales and marketing systems you will need to scale your business?
  5. With web-based B2B sales technologies, is your sales force best organized by traditional geographical boundaries, or is it better organized by product, by customer, or some other way? 
  6. Have you assessed the future of your selling process and how the web has and will continue to dramatically alter your lead generation and sales funnel and methodologies of selling?
  7. Do you know how to intelligently evaluate new investment requirements in CRM, marketing automation, content marketing, lead scoring and more?

We address all of these questions and many more at the semi-annual AIM/Derby Sales Management Boot Camp, which will run next on April 6-8 at the MIT Endicott House just outside Boston.

Why a two-and-a-half day Boot Camp? Because something amazing happens when 30 CEOs and senior sales-management executives spend three days on a campus interacting with one another and learning new strategies to increase sales revenue.

The session begins on Sunday at 5 p.m. with a networking reception, dinner and case-study review, and runs through mid-afternoon on Tuesday, just in time for you to impact the remainder of 2014. Our instructors are successful CEOs who have a track record of building successful sales organizations.

The objectives:

  • Develop a clear strategy, a measurable process, and leading-edge tools.
  • Improve sales productivity 20-30 percent.
  • Aggressively grow revenues and margins in 2014.
  • Forecast with 90 percent plus accuracy.
  • Accelerate closing rates and reduce sales cycles.
  • Successfully hire, compensate and retain A-level teams.

Learn More about the Sales Management Boot Camp

Topics: Management, Sales Management, Revenue

Does Your Company have a Sales Culture?

Posted by Jack Derby on Jun 18, 2013 2:01:00 PM

(Jack Derby is a venture capitalist and  leader of the annual AIM/Derby Sales Management Boot Camp.)

I was sitting with the senior team at a company recently prepping for a sales and marketing planning meeting.

As we were going through topics, the newly promoted president commented that this business really wasn't that complicated, and that we just needed to do two things:

  1. Sales ManagementSell more new accounts
  2. Retain and expand existing customers

I realized that he's unnervingly correct. 

The work of sales really isn't that complicated, since it comes down to the basic meat and potatoes of hunting for new territory; farming the land that we already own; plus defining a dynamic sales culture of winning.

These tenets of sales success are basics, of course, as seen from the seller's side of the table.  The opportunity for us as salespeople is to turn these basic practices of hunting and farming into buying decisions. How? By focusing on selling the financial value that we create through our products and services. 

What makes the highly intertwined worlds of sales and marketing more exciting and more of an opportunity today than ever before is the fact that we can get to the value proposition discussion efficiently by adding formalized sales processes and technology tools that employ social media and highly targeted marketing.  As a result, we can create environments that optimize the selling process and enable our salespeople to become much more effective.  

But what about your company’s sales culture?

The CFO of the company I was meeting with offered several observations on culture:

  • We can do a lot better;
  • Let's make sure that everyone is totally engaged;
  • Ensure a culture of urgency and speed everywhere;
  • Create an increased commitment to support the entire team;
  • Give the sales team confidence in their skills, an objective that may require more training; and
  • No one in sales should be just parsley for the meal - sitting pretty on the sidelines.

Your culture question for the day...

If you had to list the top two - and just two - culture improvements that you would like to make in your sales organization for the second half of the year, what would they be?  
What would it take to make sure that everyone in the organization was focused on the company's objectives and that no one was just parsley and not an active part of the team's engagement for sales optimization?  A few ideas:

  • Bring the sales culture question up at your sales meeting next week;
  • Come to agreement on the need for taking your culture to the next level;
  • Take a half day in July, once the quarter has ended;
  • Agree on the specific tactics and tools that you're going to employ; 
  • Agree on the specific tools with which you plan to enable your salespeople;
  • Execute.  

It's no more difficult than that to get everyone totally engaged and living the culture that you want.  Do that for six months, and then do a culture check at your 2014 kickoff sales meeting.

Remember, it's your personal leadership that will define what you want your sales culture to be.

Learn More about the Sales Management Boot Camp, October 6-8

Topics: Business Center, Sales Management

Back-to-School Sales Lessons for a Tough Economy

Posted by Jack Derby on Aug 17, 2012 10:22:00 AM

Editor’s note – One in an occasional series of articles on sales and sales management in a difficult economy. Jack Derby is CEO of Derby Management in Boston and lead presenter at the AIM Sales Management Boot Camp September 30-October 2.

College kids are headed to campus this week, and younger students will be back in their classrooms the last week of August. It’s all part of a harsh trend toward less summer, more school and shorter vacations.

It reminds us that the normal cycles of business, like the rhythms of the school year, are changing rapidly amid the unknowns of this shaky economy.

For me, August and September are all about "back to school" planning. Tufts, where I'm a marketing professor, begins September 6, and MIT, where I teach business planning, holds its first class on September 10, which means that my content gets read, researched, rebuilt and recreated during most of August. It's a process I look forward to every summer as I read mountains of data and reports regarding sales and marketing effectiveness.

What are the back-to-school lessons for business people looking to increase sales revenue in Q4 and 2013?

Today, as a result of the economic morass, we know that decision makers are more and more choosing to check the "No Decision Now" box. We know from our recent field research that...

  • Sales win rates have sunk from over 50 percent five years ago to the mid 40 percent range in the first half of 2012. That means your reps are working a lot harder.
  • “No Decision” rates have grown for under 20 percent 18 months ago to more than 25 percent, which says that a quarter of your sales reps’ time doesn’t pay off.
  • In 2012, 90 percent of companies raised their revenue targets, many by more than 20 percent, which will require even more sales rep effort as the year draws to a close.
  • More than 60 percent of companies need a minimum of six months to ramp up new reps. Most of the remaining 40 percent need even more time.

Given that it’s back to school season, where do you go to learn how to cope with these trends and turn them to your advantage?

I am currently working with Associated Industries of Massachusetts to put the final touches on our fall Sales Management Boot Camp September 30-October 2 at the MIT Endicott House in Dedham. No better way, we think for you to refresh yourself with your own "Back To School" immersion - even if it is just for two days - to prepare yourself for strategizing and tactical planning for your Sales organization for what's going to be a tough year ahead.

Topics: Business Center, Sales Management

Nothing is Easy about Sales

Posted by Jack Derby on Jan 19, 2012 3:44:00 PM

Editor’s note – One in an occasional series of articles on sales and sales management in a difficult economy. Jack Derby is CEO of Derby Management in Boston and lead presenter at the April 1-3 AIM Sales Management Boot Camp.

Nothing’s easy.

Sales ManagementSometimes, I will hear in a sales meeting..."but it's simple", or, "it's just basic." My attitude when I hear this type of thing is "Well, if it were so simple, then why are we talking about it?" My frustration with "It's simple" goes right along with the comment from one's boss that often begins with..."It will only take a minute.", which absolutely never...takes a minute.

Selling isn’t easy, marketing is increasingly complex, and, in reality, there’s nothing in the world of B2B sales, that comes as a result of picking “low hanging fruit”- a phrase only spoken by people who’ve never sold much.

With most of us locked into kickoff-the-year sales meetings this week or next, we’re going to be drinking from multiple fire hoses of new content, stretched objectives, updated tactics, and, just perhaps, become overwhelmed with way too much to do. By the way, after giving up a couple of days to meetings, we also need to do our day jobs and make January’s numbers.

So, a couple of quick ideas…

1. The Rule of Three - Attend anything - a seminar, sales meeting, or boot camp - and you should try to walk away with no more than three things that you’re going to put to work almost immediately. In executing our day jobs, it’s almost impossible to remember more than three new things in the day-to-day, and even if you could remember more than three, you don’t have enough time or resources to focus on more than one or two of those during the entire year.

Remember, making progress in your sales career and executing on your quarterly plans is not the result of an exam scoring what you learned and didn’t learn in a sales meeting; it’s measurement of how you practiced a small number of tactics that gave you the ability to put points on the board and win the game.

2. Create Two Buckets - There will be tens and tens of new ideas and tactics floated in these sales meetings in the next few weeks. I'd recommend that you put each of these into one or the other bucket.

First, ask yourself, “Can I put this to work in the next 30 days such that it will have impact on my numbers this quarter?” Quick tactics, somewhat easy to implement and immediately impactful measured with such specifics as leads received, leads qualified, and the numbers of Discovery meetings achieved. That’s for the short term, and there are not going to be many of those.

Everything else will take a lot of time. Sales strategies and tactics, in order to truly move the needle, take intricate planning, rehearsed and highly practiced training sessions and weeks and weeks of review, refinement and implementation. So, as you listen to countless presentations over the next few weeks, and as you probably nod off a couple of times as a result of Death by PowerPoint, force yourself to focus continuously only on what you can put to use that will impact your own personal sales plans and numbers over the next two quarters.

Think of these meetings as a result of one giant experiment where idea after idea is going to be presented. Your job is to not to run the most experiments. Your job is to find the formula that works for you.

Part of that answer will come as a result of attending the AIM/Derby Sales Management Effectiveness Boot Camp April 1-3 in Boston. We know from our experience of five years of Boot Camps that a retuning, a look at new ideas and the opportunity to talk to other management professionals, is just the thing to accelerate the productivity of your sales team for 2012.

Guest speakers for this session will include executives from Brainshark, HubSpot, Time Trade and Salesforce.

The Early Bird Discount, which ends this Friday, is $200 off our low price/high value program if you sign before the end of the day on Friday. Plus you can get an additional $100 off each for you and any other managers that accompany you from your company. Finally, all attendees receive a free half day Whiteboarding Session scheduled at their convenience anytime during the following six months.

Just email me at, and I'll set up a 10 minute call to answer your questions and walk you through the details of how to register. Good Selling!

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Sales Management

Benjamin Franklin, Sales Manager?

Posted by Jack Derby on Jul 12, 2011 9:01:00 AM

Editor’s note – One in an occasional series of articles on sales and sales management in a difficult economy. Jack Derby is CEO of Derby Management in Boston and lead presenter at the October 2-4 AIM Sales Management Boot Camp.

BenFranklinWith The Perfect July 4 weekend tucked away, and while I was lost in the myriad of activities from watching three back-to-back nights of fireworks on the beach, to singing an enthusiastic “God Bless America” at Sunday mass to watching a group of red, white and blue painted teenagers loft a huge flag and lead hundreds of people on the very crowded beach to sing “Happy Birthday,” I got around to thinking about the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Every Fourth, The Boston Globe, publishes the complete Declaration, and there’s no way that anyone can read this without thinking about the actual 56 signers of this truly revolutionary document. Of those 56, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war and five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. All were at one time or another, the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word.
Among the 56, for me, Benjamin Franklin stands out as the classic entrepreneur and earlier-day Blogger Supreme.

Captured in his marketing quote of "Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing about," (credit HubSpot for pointing this out to me in their 4th of July blog ), one can easily envision Ben the Blogger hard at work, quill pen in hand, printing press warmed up, posting one or two blogs a day - in hard copy on the wall of the town hall, of course, rather than on his Facebook wall.

Clearly the master of saying a lot with a little (“a penny saved is a penny earned”) as shown through his numerous quotes in Poor Richard’s Almanac, Ben was an extraordinary marketer and would today rival Seth Godin for his prolific and yet down-to-earth, simplistic comments.

Working recently on a project at Iron Mountain, I’ve been consistently impressed by the director of marketing for the program, for her uncanny ability to take complex sales issues and boil them down to simple templates, graphics and customer interfaces that slap one upside the head, in a Ben Franklin type of marketing way, and that immediately get prospects to the heart of the message.

Ben, I am sure, would have also excelled at delivering Value Propositions and done much better than the majority of the salespeople that we hear. When you think about marketing messaging and sales delivery tactics, unless that entity, that person, can immediately translate features into valuable benefits and what’s in it for the prospect, then in today’s shaky economy, more words are just more blah, blah, blah, and of course, blah.

Ben would have also made a great sales manager. Today as we at Derby Management begin attending a dozen sales meetings over the next few weeks reviewing half-year performance and planning out for the next six months, I know that I’ll be hearing the “hope” word a lot. Maybe rather than using my often stated comment of “hope is not a strategy,” I will use Ben’s much more effective, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting”.

Even though Ben will unfortunately not be an instructor at the Sales Management Boot Camp we will hold with AIM on October 2-4 in Boston, there will be experts from Brainshark, HubSpot and Salesforce joining in. Just shoot me an email at, and I can schedule a 10-minute call to answer questions and walk you through the details. You may also contact Russ Sullivan at AIM,

Keep in mind the following facts about the event:

  • Five years
  • More than 350 graduates
  • CEOs & Sales Managers only
  • High satisfaction
  • Lots of testimonials
  • Pre-August 15th discounts

Good Selling today and as you venture out into a brand new quarter remember Ben’s: “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out!”

Topics: CEO, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Sales Management

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