A couple weeks back my business partner, Colin Hickey, and I were talking about our sales numbers. We own a couple local ventures here in Missoula: MissoulaEvents.net and Missoula Indoor Ads. And a online, community events calendar software startup, GatherBoard. Last year at this time we were celebrating the first birthdays of his son and my son and the official launch of Gatherboard.com.
Last month we were not celebrating. We both noticed that local numbers were down a bit. The software sales were strong, but the local ventures have bootstrapped our entire project, and those numbers were not thriving. It turns out we were both a bit nervous to approach the other about it. I was really fretting it. My second child, Will, was about 21-months old, and I was finally working a regular schedule with smarter and more efficient systems than the past year and a half since he'd been born. What was wrong?
|EB asleep on my desk at the Independent,|
Colin was the one who reached out a called me about it. I could tell from his greeting and tone of voice he was nervous about it. I'm lucky to have him as a business partner - we've never had one of those crazy "blow up, rant in your face" type of an interaction. (Writing out loud here - thinking a future blog post on picking a great co-founder forthcoming.) He said he'd noticed the coming month was low. Not unbearably, but about the lowest in 18-24-months. I said that I knew it, too, and had been hemming and hawing on how to approach the subject with him, and thanks for reaching out.
All of the sudden *CLICK*... that number range, 18-24 months, got me thinking - the lowest since before Will was born. I flashed-back to my numbers and sales when I was an ad rep at the local alt-weekly, the Independent. My first child, EB, was born while I was rounding my 7th year of sales there. I had a great 2nd and 3rd trimester and was really oozing with mama-to-be Mojo. My sales were up - way up. By the time I was put on bed-rest 10-days before her due date I had pre-sold the following 3-6 months of contracts, through the holidays and well into the new year. I had even collected ad ideas from most of my customers and had their ads designed and filed in folders, by issue, for the next 2-4 months. And to top that off, while on maternity leave I had broken sales records for the highest grossing weeks in the history of the paper!
|Will and Mama, changing out|
Missoula Indoor Ads, Aug 2013.
It took about 9-12-months for me to feel like that mojo was creeping back in. By then we had many systems down - child care routines that felt good, normal-ish sleep, date night with my husband, time to myself. As the nervous energy dissipated, there was room for positive, collaborative, high-energy needed for a positive sales environment to fill it's place.
I didn't notice any of this at that time. I was definitely noticing it now, 8-years later, when my sales were down. And it struck me, there is a Mama Sales Mojo Cycle. (For men, or women without kids, this is analogous to what I will now call the Vacation Mojo Cycle - but on longer time-frame - think about all the frantic prep before a trip, the bliss of being "free" on vacation, the crushing days/weeks when you first come back of catch up just to empty your inbox and "maintain", and then the time to get back to your groove and thrive.)
Mama Sales Mojo Cycle
First Phase - Months 1-4: This is pre-Mojo. Even if you have a fairly easy pregnancy, the first three-months are hard. You're tired, you may be sick, and you are quite likely vacillating between elation and shock about your news. Your sales are status quo. You're probably not crushing it right now, because instead you're rushing to the bathroom, sneaking cat-naps, or crushing ginger-candy wrappers, just to fend off the next wave of nausea.
Second Phase - Months 4-9: Mojo overflow. As you ease into the second trimester, the good hormones start flowing. Sleep gets temporarily better before you're the size of a barn, eating habits normalize, you're telling everyone about the pregnancy and you finally start to show, instead of just looking fat.
You know your due date - and this is the biggest, most motivating deadline you'll ever have. You get out there and sell like there is no tomorrow. You are negotiating time-off or already know how much you have paid and un-paid, and how much you need to sell to cover that time off, and then some.
As you get closer and closer to your due date, you get larger and larger, and the sales are sometimes easier to close than ever... I mean really, who can say no to a huge pregnant lady with the line, "Let's get this deal closed and serviced before I explode"?
Third Phase - Months 9-14: Mojo free-ride. Some folks call this time the third trimester. If lucky enough, mama and babe have a few months of together time. Sleep is sporadic, but a couple hours at 1pm is just as good as a few at 1am. No sales mojo is needed here. All that extra Mojo from Second Phase is paying off, and you don't have a care in the world beyond your little bundle. You might take a few calls or answer a few emails toward the end of this phase as your start to prepare for work again, but not real selling is going on here.
Fourth Phase - Months 13-18: Where's the Mojo? You're back to work, perhaps part-time, likely 2/3 to full time. Someone else is caring for your baby. You're tired, you're forgetful, you're stressed, you have to pump at work, the Mojo from Second Phase is still there, but is really waning. It's on the way out. There is no new Mojo. You have current customers to service, you have sales to renew, and you are supposed to cold call and generate leads. Gotta fill that pipeline, right? There just isn't a lot of time, energy or Mojo for pipe-filling right now.
Fifth Phase - Months 17-24: Mojo rising. By now your baby is nearly a year old. You're getting back into the swing of things. You can get your work done, you take showers more regularly, you get a good night sleep a few times a weeks, pumping at work is old hat, and you are actually making cold-calls in addition to keeping current business going. But your numbers are stagnant. It's been months since you were on that Second Phase high. That wave has crested and you're in the well between the waves.
Sixth Phase (Final Phase) - Months 23-27: Got to keep on rising. (That was a little Door's tribute there - Mojo rising, got to keep on rising...) Ok, you're back! Congrats, now it's time to get pregnant again - joking! But in reality, things feel pretty great. You have a new normal as a working mom and it's not so bad. So why are your sales so shitty? Well, Second Phase Mojo is long gone and Fifth Phase Mojo is just about to reach critical mass... so hang in there! The sales are coming.
I realized that I was in this Final Phase when Colin called me. (thank gawd!) In this final phase I was also coaching two new independent sales associates for our local ventures. All the good stuff I was giving them, I was also reminding myself. Here we are, just a month later, and we've closed or renewed 10-deals! This next month is set to be one of the highest on record. And the month after that is looking pretty great, too.
Good luck with the Mojo,