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You Can’t Cram to Make Your Number. Do the Work Now.

When you were in high school or college, you might have crammed for your final exam, hoping to squeak out a passing grade. You might even have been successful at cramming. You felt a great sense of relief having passed, and you may have even felt some sense of accomplishment. It’s unfortunate that the outcome you were trying to achieve was learning the material and not passing the final exam or the class (you can do both of those things without learning a thing).

But success in business and life isn’t much like a high school or college. There isn’t any way to cram for results, least of all sales results. You have to do the work now that produces the outcomes that lead to your future results. You pay in advance for your successes with the work you are doing right now.

This Quarter’s Number and Next Quarter’s

If you are going to miss your number this quarter, it’s not because of the work that you are doing now. Or even the work you have done over the last few weeks. You can double and redouble your efforts now and still miss your number. There just isn’t any way to cram the results that you need.

If you have a 90-day sales cycle, the results of the work you are doing now will only be seen 90 days from now. You get those results next quarter. If your sales cycle is longer, say 180 days, the effort that you are making today isn’t going to be realized for two whole quarters.

The challenge with a long sales cycle is that it feels like you have more time than you really do. The work you are doing today isn’t going to be seen or felt for a couple quarters, so it feels like you can hit the snooze button and put the work off for a little while. But eventually, you get caught flatfooted. You miss your number.

This quarter’s work is next quarter’s result—or the quarter after next quarter. Sometimes it’s even further into the future. You can’t be lulled into a false sense of security and wrongly believe that you have time that you really don’t have.

Before It’s Too Late

The time to make your number is now. Tomorrow is too late.

You need to produce the outcomes today that produce your sales results tomorrow. If you want to make your number next quarter, open the opportunities that produce won deals next quarter. If you want to make your number in the next three or four quarters, you nurture the relationships you need to open relationships right now. You have to act now, because later is too late. You have to play the cycles.

The closer you get to the day where the measurement is going to be taken, the less time you have to produce the results that are being measured.

Unlike a high school or college exam, there isn’t any way to cram the weekend before the score is taken. Your final grade is going to be determined by whether or not you really did the work you were supposed to do—and whether or not you did it when you were supposed to.

The time to act is now.

Questions

When will you see the results of the work you are doing now?

How long is your sales cycle?

Based on your average sales cycle, what outcomes do you have to get now to produce results when you need them?

Why is it easy to get lulled into the false sense that you have more time than you actually have?

What should you be doing right now?


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  1. [...] “If you are going to miss your number this quarter, it’s not because of the work that you are doing now. Or even the work you have done over the last few weeks,” writes sales expert S. Anthony Iannarino. In a post for his blog he argues, “success in business and life isn’t much like a high school or college. There isn’t any way to cram for results, least of all sales results. You have to do the work now that produces the outcomes that lead to your future results.” For more on how to start putting in the work for a passing grade next quarter, read the full post here. [...]