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I looked at the calendar today and was astonished to see that tomorrow is October 1st and the beginning of the fourth quarter. It seems like only a few weeks ago that we were planning for January’s Consumer Electronics Show, prepaid sales for Tax Time, and adjusting our plans based on 2021 Holiday sales.
Now the most important time of the year is upon us where help wanted signs dot almost every retailer, baseball playoffs are a week or two away and advertising, merchandising, and marketing are bombarding us with the greatest, largest, and cheapest in advance of the holiday selling season.
Let’s ask the most basic question of our MVNO’s and dealers……
Are You Ready?
Ready, Get Set, GO! It’s the Fourth Quarter.
In sports, entering into the fourth quarter means one of three things, you have a comfortable lead and your strategy is to protect that lead and run out the clock. Second, you are hopeless behind with no chance to win so you throw some less experienced people into the game and start trying some new plays. And three, it’s a very close contest and you have to be 120% better than the opponent and your players have to reach down deep and give you their very best effort.
So, how do sports teams WIN in the fourth quarter when the game is so close?
The answer is simple; PREPARATION!
Our friends at Merriam-Webster define preparation as something done to get ready for an event or undertaking.
I don’t think that our dealers fall into numbers one or two above. Most have by now weathered Covid and the pandemic and are seeing a return to normalcy in their businesses. Carriers and MVNOs are getting aggressive with rate plans and increasing the amount of available data. Dealers have little say in the rates or plans that the carriers and MVNOs are setting. So, along with preparation comes the second most important thing……. EXECUTION!
Even the best laid out plans will fail if your team can’t execute them. If you have ever gone early to a baseball game, why do you think they have batting practice? It’s so the players stay sharp and start to anticipate (and prepare) on what the opposing pitcher will throw at them. Have you ever watched a football, soccer, or basketball team practice? They run the same plays over and over until it is ingrained in the players’ minds and bodies to react instinctively and immediately to what they are seeing when the real game starts.
Your sales teams must undertake both preparation and execution with the same passion and vigor as athletes do. Or as a doctor would do in the operating room.
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN, HOW DO WE PREPARE?
I read an interesting blog by Deborah Johnson, M.A. Deborah is an inspirational speaker, author, and international award-winning music artist. She is also a past president of the National Speakers Association, Los Angeles.
She breaks down preparation into three steps:
Plan Ahead for the Unknown
“….. the principle of planning ahead and preparing for the probable (sales in our case) is a very valuable one that should be heeded...... There is nothing wrong with bettering yourself in areas that stretch and challenge you..... What holds many back is fear or lack of action...... A simple plan can be as easy as creating an action list with items to check off. Establishing solid routines can help calm nerves and quell the anxiety.”
How Do You Prepare? Establish a Routine
“The thought of a routine may feel unnatural, rigid, and boring but in many ways is freeing. Especially if the routine includes rote tasks that can free up your mind and thoughts for other areas.”
For example, a great routine is making a To Do list. Is the store clean and does it provide an atmosphere for a great customer experience? Are the counters free of clutter but have brochures, merchandising materials, and rate plans visible? Are employees dressed per your company’s guidelines? Making a list and executing on that list is a great routine to do every day, until you’re comfortable doing those tasks without one. Remember, as Ms. Johnson says, “Take one very small step at a time.”
How Do You Prepare? Consistently Review and Practice
“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation is often attributed to author and speaker Zig Zigler, (1926-2012) but its origins go back even further. Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca said, Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Thank you, Deborah, for putting the often complex task of preparation into easy and actionable steps.
Okay Jon, Now What?
So, are you ready for the known and unknown of the fourth quarter? Although we don’t have a crystal ball, part of our preparation and forecasting comes from the history of past fourth quarters (when we didn’t have Covid changing the playing field). I speak often with Jeff Moore, Principle at Wave 7 Research. We spent some time this week talking about what the next three months hold for our wireless business. Here are Jeff’s thoughts on Q4, 2022:
I think 4Q22 will be mostly similar to 4Q21, with Cricket kicking off holiday TV ads during the first week of November, but with familiar themes, such as “4 for $100” unlimited, nationwide 5G, and select free phones for switchers. Metro by T-Mobile has been touting what is said to be the largest selection of free 5G smartphones and I expect this to continue. Its $40 switcher offer could continue through the holiday season and to me, the question is whether Metro by T-Mobile will bring back its offer of free activation for new customers, which was prominent during the holidays in 2021. Boost Mobile has extended its $25/month unlimited BYO offer into November and to me, the big question is whether it will be extended through the holiday season.
And what is new for 2022? Total by Verizon. My gut tells me that Total by Verizon brand image advertising will launch in October. I expect spending to be heavy, as Verizon tries to create a brand that will be a significant player in the U.S. prepaid market.
In summary, will there be anything new or just more of the same? Either way, you and your retail outlets need to take both Deborah’s and Jeff’s advice (and for that matter…… mine too!).
- Prepare and Execute on all of your 4th quarter programs
- Be Better Than Your Competition
- Challenge and Reward Your People
The game isn’t won on the field during the contest. It’s won on the practice field. Repetition, conditioning, preparedness, and execution usually win out. If you want to learn more about how to WIN this season, get in touch with us at https://atriumunlimited.com/. We’d love to help.