The Sales Waterbed

by Jason Ogden | Feb 5, 2019

Perhaps it is best to think about this idea within the boundaries of the Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 rule) which roughly states 80% of effects/results come from 20% of the causes/actions. Perhaps this is just metaphysics. Maybe it’s just a little fun.

Hopefully at this point in the year you’ve finalized (or are very close to finalizing) your sales and marketing plan for 2019. When I do ours, I first determine the 20% for Syrup and filter down by the “start, stop, keep doing” method:

  • What are we going to start doing? This year, that reasonably could have an 80/20-type impact for either our one-year or three-year plan.
  • What do we need to stop doing? What activities, given enough resources and time, simply haven’t panned out and do we need to stop resourcing?
  • What do we need to keep doing? This may seem obvious, but identifying these things even by saying them out loud can spark ideas on how to improve or optimize. The important thing here is to take good care of what’s proven to work for your business.

Let’s assume you’ve been through this process and identified your 20, the few key things that will drive 80% of your results. Now what? I don’t know about you but I don’t get up every day aiming to hit 80%. That’s barely a B, very nearly a C. Nope, not interested.  

So you still have 80% of your time/energy/resources/activities to deploy, but here’s where it gets mentally interesting. Realistically, most of the 80 will yield very little, if any results, and in any event, will be inefficient. This knowledge can greatly hinder motivation, especially in an area of business (sales) that requires motivation to work. So how does one tackle this obstacle, not just for one white knuckle year, but for the long haul?

Please let me introduce the Sales Waterbed.  

In B2B sales, you have a good diet of networking, coffees, events, trade shows, speaking events, and the like. Each one can take a good amount of personal energy, especially if you’re not naturally wired to do these things day in and day out. Experience has taught me that even though any one of these things is unlikely to yield any kind of immediate results, that something good happens when you engage them fully, with a positive mindset and all your energy. Good things happen when you do.

For example, maybe you go to an event this week where nothing came of it BUT a prospect from 2 years ago happened to reach out on the same day. Or you get an email from a would-be-client ready to move ahead after a long period of time the day you went to a lunch & learn. That’s the Sales Waterbed at work: putting in effort somewhere, and getting unexpected movement/results somewhere else completely. When you push on the corner of a waterbed, you never know where the water will rise.

Let me leave you with this: one of my business partners, Kraig Guffey and I have witnessed this phenomenon enough times that I thought it was time to name it. Try this out – do some things in the market consistently that aren’t the bread and butter of your sales engine and pay close attention to what opportunities surface seemingly randomly. I would love to hear if you too witness the power of the Sales Waterbed in 2019.

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 by Jason Ogden

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