Not much point talking about Brexit – far smarter minds have weighed in on the debacle and the English empty-headed political responses after the event.
Suffice to say, while I’ve met a few great sales people and also personally closed some big wins, I’ve never met anyone yet who has signed a $2 trillion deal.
Yet that’s what the world’s financial markets had lost by Saturday morning, all due to Brexit.
Meanwhile, in the corporate world, many large tech firms close their FY16 books this week – in fact, June is the busiest fiscal end month after December for US-listed companies.
So this morning, many of my ex-colleagues will be on their last forecast call of the year - and most will be hearing unwelcome news.
Let’s face it, deals always fall out of the funnel at this time of year. And some of them were always aspirational rather than real, anyway.
Every company will have at least one sales rep who needs that big deal to save his job - and whose manager passively conspires to keep it in the forecast until the last possible minute.
And as has happened in my personal experience, there’s also always one sale that needs just one more signature on the paperwork, but is delayed by executive vacation or sickness.
But today’s forecast call is going to sound like a bloodbath of a different order of magnitude to the odd “lost at the last minute” deal problem. Especially if you’re in the finance vertical…
For example, JP Morgan, one of the larger buyers of technology in the UK, has much bigger fish to fry than helping you close out your year.
As part of its post-apocalyptic Brexit strategy, it reportedly signed leases on four buildings in Madrid and six in Frankfurt today. Jobs, technology platforms, infrastructure, etc. to follow next month.
If you’re planning on the big banks to be part of your UK FY16 number, you’d better be fast on your feet - and be prepared to negotiate some kind of revenue split with your European subsidiaries. That’s if they’re still speaking to you after your country effectively tanked their pensions, of course.
So, if Q4 and year-end looks like it’s going to tank (don’t mention the tanks!) and there’s not a whole load you can do about the external factors that have made this inevitable, what should you be doing over the next few days?
Firstly, one of the clear lessons from Brexit is that just because you think you know what your people are thinking, doesn’t mean you have a clue.
Everyone was so sure that Britain would remain in the EU that politicians stopped listening to the populace and starting shouting at each other instead. Cue a complete misreading of the way the vote would go, from cloth-eared hirsute politicians, to the financial markets and other dodgy gambling types, right down to the swivel-eyed lads in the pub.
Takeaway number 1 – listen more carefully to your staff – they may not be thinking what you think they are.
Secondly, shouting isn’t an advanced form of communication (even when you’re trying to convince a non-native English speaker.)
Nightmarish guesses - complete with monsters from the deep - were used to persuade in the name of “Project Fear”, as the Bremainers ground out their doomsday scenarios.
Meanwhile, blatantly bad numbers were emblazoned onto the sides of buses, alongside promises that were always going to be impossible to keep by the Brexiteers.
While these were the most recent manifestations of political communication, the reality is that the majority of the UK population was not only kept in ignorance, they were deliberately so badly educated that they couldn’t think through the problem for themselves.
Most Brits simply didn’t believe that leaving the EU would present the UK with a problem, let alone the EU or the world economy. They thought it was an opportunity to show how disaffected they were.
The proof of this is that the margin of victory in the actual referendum was 1.6m Brexiteers, yet 3.6m have since signed a petition to have another go - so they can get the right answer next time around. (Multiple choice with only two answers and a year to find out the correct one is a bit difficult for most Brits, apparently.)
And on Friday, the most asked question on Google UK was “what are the effects of Britain exiting the EU?” followed by “what is the EU?” This was eight hours after the polls had closed!
So takeaway number 2 – communication is important, but education is even more so. Even when your competitors and prospects are using lies damned lies and statistics to refute your sales plans, with sufficient education you can identify the issues and confound your competition.
And while you’re on the subject of education, I suggest you sign up for German language lessons. Inside five years, the language of European commerce will no longer be English – the EU only did that as a favour to the semi-literate Brits and now that we’ve repudiated their way of life, you might find they might want to take a less arbitrary approach to communication.
Since, apparently, there is only one way of speaking German – the right way, naturally – there is less chance for disastrous miscommunication.
And if there’s one thing we need a damn sight less of right now, and that’s disastrous miscommunication, even in a Monday sales meeting.
We haven't even begun yet to look at generic post-Brexit strategies for UK subsidiaries US companies, but if you're looking for a sounding board, we'd be happy to meet up for a coffee to brainstorm. Contact us here.
PS – with the pound in effective free-fall against the dollar today, UK subsidiaries of US companies need to think how their internal rates of exchange might stymie their year-end close – suggest you check in with your finance controller to see how this affects you!
Methodical ramblings after twenty-five years in Sales, Marketing and SalesOps.