Three Term Rule

To limit time in any one role to three years has long been the mantra of the greasy pole careerist.

There's many a reason for this slant.

For one, I'm reminded of the classic advice of revolutionary Hungarian football coach, Bela Guttman; "the third year is fatal". Meaning that after three years, complacency, counter-measures and change momentum topples you for any year four.

In pure quota-owning sales, it's also fairly straightforward to plot out each 'year'.

Pick up the pieces. Re-arrange/refresh pieces. Puzzle solved. (Leave.)

Not all newly begun sales jobs revolve around such axis. But so many do.

Think of the most succinct 'change' model, from Lewin; unfreeze-change-refreeze. A winning framework indeed.

So it was with great interest I read the remarks of World Athletics President, and former Olympic gold medallists and world record holder, Seb Coe. Upon election to a third and final four-year term in charge.

“The first four years of my mandate was making sure the ship didn’t sink. We were in a very, very serious position. We restructured the sport and put safeguards in place that we should have had.
The next four years were really about dealing with all the issues that have been in the in-tray for far too long, such as the ongoing issues of Russia and protecting the female category.
I really want the next four years to focus on what is the product? What is it that is going to future-proof the sport for the next 30 or 40 years?”

Term 1, keeping ship afloat.
Term 2, lifting drag anchors.
Term 3, future-proofing.

I've had several senior sales execs express their philosophy in similar form. Taking Coe's Terms as Sales Years.

The idea being, three years in, your ability has been proven. Any listing righted, new course duly set, then sailed gloriously towards sunlit horizons.

Staying any longer ensures entropy can't set in. You keep moving under the auspices of having taken your previous place to the max, success nailed, natural time for next challenge.

A perhaps alternative, positive spin on this can be in the legacy of such three-year thinking. I blogged on such a couple years' back, where your 36mo span leads to the legacy of 'profit'. Readily adaptable in this context.

Note also the recruitment angle; can either you or your candidate articulate a three year-plan this way?

Wherever you do this, you do not necessarily have to suggest you won't be seeing in-post any 13th Quarter. Who knows what might follow, hey? But you can focus on the here and now, the legacy you seek, and then take things from there.

Subscribe to Salespodder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.