Momentum is critically important in most sports and momentum in business is equally important. Later this week the Eagles and Patriots will meet in the Super Bowl. Momentum will play a big part in the outcome of the game. How much does the momentum in your business influence outcomes?
When I was coaching football, I used to teach my teams to watch for that point in the game where they would sense the opponent was on their heels, barely hanging on, hoping we would fumble. In those moments, when momentum had swung our way, I would intentionally call plays that were within the realm of what we did well – nothing experimental or risky. I stuck to the game plan, increased intensity, and kept that momentum going. We’ve all seen games where a lesser team beat a stronger one because the stronger one pulled out their starters too quickly, or decide to experiment with riskier plays while they were ahead. Then the lesser team capitalized on that momentum shift, swung it their way, and pulled ahead to win.
What is momentum?
I could quote the dictionary here, but a simple definition of momentum is whenever you get something moving. It becomes easier to keep it going so that you almost feel like you’re going downhill. Good things are happening, and you don’t have to work as hard to overcome that initial inertia. Once you’ve got it rolling, it’s easy to continue. In sports, it’s when the game is going your way and you feel unstoppable. While momentum is a vital factor in athletics, it’s every bit as important in business.
Momentum in business
In business, momentum is going your way when you’ve established practices that work, clients are coming in, and your procedures are running smoothly. Your bottom line is increasing and all systems are go. You’ve learned to base your decisions on what can generate momentum for you, deliberately planning and executing momentum building activities rather than busy work. Momentum is the hardest thing to capture in business and the easiest thing to lose. (Check out this article on how to build unstoppable momentum…)
What stops the momentum in business?
I recently asked a group of business people this question and was interested in their various answers:
Loss of focus
A poorly-timed vacation
Changes in procedures or processes
Saying yes to too many things (remember the power of no!)
Getting sidelined by too much busy work (This can make us appear to be giving a great effort, but we’re actually being busy rather than productive.)
For example, let’s say you’ve got a project going well. You’re pressing toward the goal, closing business, and then you get the bright idea to take a break. Things are progressing so smoothly that it seems you can take your foot off the gas. But you lose momentum and then you lose confidence. When this happens, your skill set can also decline.
Regaining lost momentum in business
One of our clients built up a successful business. She had generated great momentum. and her business was firing on all cylinders. Then a crisis emerged that required her to leave the country for a couple of years and take care of her family. When she returned to America, her once-thriving business was dead in the water. Daunted by the prospect of trying to regain her momentum, she called me for a coaching session. I said, “Let’s go back and review what initiated your momentum.” She’s in the process of re-establishing those practices, and she is well on her way back to success.
These can be hard to identify because they often seem like they should be momentum builders. For instance, a client of ours went to a networking event, telling me it went well. I asked him a few questions, like whether his target market was there, and how much business the event might generate. We also discussed how much time it took out of his day – travel time both ways, plus the event itself. Then I asked him if it would have been just as effective for him to stay home and make three and a half hours of cold calls. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying never go to networking events, or focus only on cold calls. (Networking events can be powerful tools when used correctly.) But he needed to assess whether the event added to his momentum or subtracted from it. You need to evaluate every activity you do with this question in mind.
An underestimated momentum builder: the phone
Two years ago, we made a sales presentation that didn’t go to proposal, but we stayed in touch with the potential client. Then one day I got an email with the subject line, “May be interested in increasing sales.” The body of the email had nothing of value in it – not even a phone number – so I googled the company and got that 1-800 number that nobody ever calls. When someone answered, I gave my value proposition: “I got this email from so-and-so. He said you were in the market for increasing sales. Here’s what I do: I help companies create more leads, book more appointments with decision-makers, and increase closing ratios.” That got me to the company owner. The next day, after I presented my core story, the owner told me that email had been sent to two companies at the same time. Within five minutes, he was on the phone with me. Four hours later, he got an email from the other company. Guess who got the contract? The phone is often overlooked, but it generates momentum like nothing else.
Time to evaluate
Get a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. In one column, list all the activities you do that drain your energy and kill your momentum. In the other column, list the activities that energize you and build momentum in business. Carefully assess both lists, and focus on those momentum-building practices. Also, analyze the momentum killers to find ones that can be turned: when you get better at them and conquer them, they can become a force for good and can be added to the momentum builder list.
Watch the Super Bowl this weekend. Observe how each team is affected by either possessing or losing momentum. What is lost momentum in business costing you in dollars? In client retention? If you’re discouraged by your current situation, take action! You can turn things around by evaluating your activities, choosing to focus on momentum builders. Be consistent in applying them and you’ll soon see positive results.