If a Federal Sales Q4 Hot Wash is so valuable, why doesn’t everybody do one? Take your pick, or add your own.
- “We’re exhausted and overtaken by events.”
- “We’ve closed the book on the year; it’s time to move on.”
- “We’re onboarding our newest clients! No time now!”
- “It’s important, but not urgent. It can wait (for a day that never comes)”
- “We’re doing fine; we’ve never done this before. Why try something we don’t know how to do?”
- “We haven’t got the resources – energy, time, cash, sweat equity… we’re just tapped out.”
- “We’ve got too many balls in the air and not enough hands.”
- “We don’t have anyone who can pull this together.”
- “Oh, we already do that. We’re getting to it, really.”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
When I was thinking about this blog post, I picked a podcast to listen to on the road. I clicked an episode of Brene Brown’s Dare To Lead podcast series.
Boy, did I get an earful…and a brain-full…and a heart full. I was gratified to realize that what I wanted to share with you has roots in solid research!
Dr. Brown’s research on leadership resonates for everyone who’s considering doing a Federal Sales Q4 Hot Wash! I hope you’ll listen.
PODCAST RESOURCE: Brene Brown’s Armored Versus Daring Leadership (Part One).
The Takedown: Fear of Imperfection
Underneath every one of these objections is our glorious humanity. Plenty of CEO’s tell me, “Oh, we don’t do shame and blame here.”
Meh. We all do shame and blame. The question isn’t whether those emotions affect us, but how they’re camouflaged, whether we notice them, and what we do next!
We’ve got a lot at stake when we go out into the Federal market to serve our buyers, build our companies, create and sustain jobs for our employees and wealth for our families and our communities.
Facing where we fall short is hard, every time.
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”
~ John Cage, American Composer
If we want the growth that comes from innovation, if we’re looking for the resources, we need to bring creative ideas to life, we also need to wrestle with the tough conversations. We need to work through the discomfort of facing our failings. We need to both give and accept feedback.
When Dr. Brown contrasts what she calls “armored leadership” with “daring leadership,” her insights tackle all these objections head-on.
Only when we take the time to stop, take stock, and ask the hard questions, can we learn and tap our strengths — as individuals and as a team.
Otherwise, all too often our natural, unthinking, response is driven by a nearly overwhelming desire to avoid conflict, blame & shame, frustration, and disappointment.
“If you’re comfortable, I’m not teaching and you’re not learning. It’s going to get uncomfortable in here and that’s okay. It’s normal and it’s part of the process.”
~ Brene Brown
You’re In! Who’s Invited To Our Federal Sales Hot Wash?
If it’s a sales Hot Wash then…the people who do the selling, right?
The list may be longer than you think! Here’s why.
Sales includes research into who you want to woo. It includes recognizing or creating an opportunity. It includes building connections and trust with Federal humans — lots of them — long before the proposal is written. Sales absolutely includes everyone who’s in the account today delivering, creating what’s going to become your past performance.
My most successful clients all tell me, “Everybody sells.” Just about everyone on our team has a unique contribution to make, because just about everyone in our company contributes to the customer experience, in building our relationships with prospects and clients — whether they talk to our clients or never meet them.
The Invitation List
Let’s start with…
- The C-suite or business owner
- The sales and business development leadership
- Those involved in direct sales – those making calls to prospects, having conversations with prospects and clients
- Team members involved in proposal development – whether written in-house or by a contractor, consultant, or specialist
- Support personnel, research assistants, interns, analysts in the company
- Contract Administration staff – those managing the customer experience and the contract terms and condition
- Program managers and account leads, who are subject matter experts, with a close ear to the ground
- Those involved in frontline service delivery
- Maybe key partners and resellers!
In short, team members in just about every functional area in the company can contribute to — and benefit from — participating in a Hot Wash.
What Are The Steps To Doing A Hot Wash?
Reflect & Gather Information
We start by casting a wide net to capture ideas, intuition, and observations as well as facts and data, from the whole team. The Hot Wash leader sorts through those to recommend a short list of topics to explore in depth in Step Two. The management team considers whether and how to work with the other things that are still important but can’t be tackled in a single day session.
Discover & Explore
The Hot Wash session leader we’ve chosen — whether from within our own team, or an experienced facilitator from outside our team — brings us all together for a full day to explore and share what we learned as well as how we earned.
Decide & Act
Our session is only as good as our implementation! Once we’re on the same page about lessons learned, we’ll have a firm foundation — and probably have identified new resources! — to begin the full business plan for the new year.
About that full year business plan: If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.
As you’re preparing for your hot wash, you may also be looking for a fresh approach to that full plan.
If you want a structured, proven, process that drives results, learn more about Summit Insight’s Federal Business Intensive!
Hot Wash Step One: Reflect & Gather
The challenge isn’t actually “What will we talk about?” but to start by gathering up what’s on our minds and then choosing which ones we’ll work on first in the hot wash.
Our effort before the hot wash signals to our team the commitment to act and to do something with the results. This builds momentum and excitement, and we get our team and partners thinking, engaged and excited during the process.
The Big Three Questions
Here are the big three questions we need to ask as we begin.
- How satisfied are we with our Federal wins, and our profit?
- How much — what proportion — of our Federal revenue was generated from or driven by relationships (versus, say, speculative bidding to people we didn’t know?
- What percentage of our sales and marketing budget did we invest in activities and assets that helped build those relationships?
Ideally, we’re aligned to invest most in the things that work best. If our investments aren’t aligned with returns, that’s the opportunity: to shift resources away from the activities that aren’t delivering and free up resources to try new things!
SUCCESS STORY: in 2020, when Heather Lacroix, President of Chenega Technical Innovations realized how much of their business comes from relationships, she shifted the mix. A new investment of less than $18,000 to help their team build more business from relationships. Her team drove an additional $12 million in Federal wins within 6 months of finishing the Federal sales and relationship development training by practicing the skills they learned and building relationships and using the data they did through our Federal Business Intensive.
Idea Generation Possibilities
As our leadership team prepares for the hot wash, we can share questions like these among our team. decide which ones we want everyone to answer, and which ones need to go to people based on their unique responsibilities. Their initial answers will let the leadership team choose the topics sort through the answers and
- What do our customers and partners say about us?
- What trends, patterns, and omens did we miss?
- What’s our intuition telling us about our individual competitors and our Federal customers?
- What are we avoiding? Which topics have we postponed that we know we need to face?
- Which opportunities, networks and relationships did we leave untapped that still have unrealized potential?
- How did our marketing goals and actions correlate with outcomes? (Conferences, webinars, special pro bono projects: what did we expect, and did those activities deliver?)
- Which of our competitive intelligence sources and databases – all the places we’re spending money on – made a substantive contribution to identifying the work we won?
- Who initiated and built the key relationships this year that contributed to our wins?
- Who are our internal and external rainmakers? How did we thank, recognize, and nurture them?
- How differently did our Federal agency customers behave this year from what we expected — in what they needed, how they worked with us, and how they competed and awarded work this year?
- Why do we think that happened … and what are they telling us to expect for the year ahead — more or less of the same?
- Which agencies do we find easy to win in, and which are frustrating to play in? Why do we think that is?
- Which lines of business are the easiest to win work? Which are the most profitable?
- Are we winning the kinds of work, and from the kinds of customers, that is helping us grow the business?
- How well are our partnerships working? How well did we deliver what we promised, and vice versa?
- How could that partnership have worked better? Or are we really a fit?
From Brainstorm to Brain Trust
Our session leader has a big job ahead of them at this point.
Experienced facilitators can easily sort through the inputs, group related ideas together into topics, and recommend a session agenda.
What might those topics be?
Does your team include the right person to lead the session? How can you tell whether it’s worth the investment to bring in a facilitator?
These are SUCH important topics that I’ve put together a three-part online course to help you with all of that!