Focus on the Nut of Your Job: A Lesson from Stu Silverman

From 2000-2005, I worked for a guy named Stu Silverman. He is one of the original thought leaders in inside sales and sales development and in my opinion, is the greatest in the business. His company, Sales Ramp, has worked with 100’s of companies in the valley over the last 30 years including Cisco, Sun, and Oracle. As the sales development revolution continues its upswing, remember the originals — Stu is one of them.

On a personal level, he was my Dicky Fox, the fictional character in the movie Jerry Maguire. To remind you, here is Dicky Fox from Jerry Maquire:

I learned so much from him. Every meeting I had, I learned something knew from him. I can’t do a blog post on everything…I got inspired for this post in some recent interactions with organizations that last couple months. This is one tip that I always bring up:

Focus on the Nut of the Job

The Nut of the Job

Basically, it’s very simple: In the workday, there are lots of “other” things that you can be involved in – the shell of the nut. But at the end of the day, the key to your career and job security is to make sure you understand what the nut is buried inside that shell. And that every decision you make about your time is made to deliver (hopefully “over-deliver’) on that nut.  Stu used to draw a nut and put all the other things in the shell and in the middle he would have one singular deliverable (ex: SQLs, revenue, etc). He used to say: “Focus on this nut. This is what the company has brought you here to do.”

Let me give you an example: I am working with a small 30 person company. They have an employee whose job it is to drive enterprise leads via outbound. It’s not going that well. Since it’s a startup, there are other things he is involved in such as helping with marketing, sitting in sales meetings, having meetings about everything (in small companies, everyone goes to every meeting), etc. So I talked to him the other day and he hadn’t been on the phone for two days. I asked him “why”?, he listed all the things he was doing.

Me: “I have one thing to tell you – in one month, the CEO is going to ask where the pipeline is. It will not go well”.

Him: “But I am adding value in a lot of different places.”

Me: “Whats the nut of your job?”

Him: “Leads.”

Me: “I don’t need to say anything else.”

His job is to get a very specific number of qualified leads/month. If the other stuff is in the way, he has to do it at night or not at all. That is how it goes. When you focus on the nut of the job, there are no excuses. You have to do everything you can to get there, and if something is in the way, then you remove or you go to the others in the organization and have them remove it for you. Then you deliver the nut of your job. PERIOD.

This is a very important lesson when you have people that are doing jobs that aren’t really that fun like Sales Development. There are other things people would rather do than listen to voicemail messages and get a 3% return rate on their emails. So when someone tells them there is a product meeting, they can’t wait to go. I am not saying you shouldn’t get people involved in other things or allow them to have fun playing foosball. What I am saying is the “other things” cannot prevent that person from fulfilling the nut of their job.

And as managers, we need to help keeping focused on the nut of the job. Ralph Barsi at Achievers has a designated meeting time where the organization is only allowed to call meetings with reps from 2.30-3.30 every day. Otherwise, you can’t meet with them. I love that.

The nut of your job. Live it, love it.

By the way, after I wrote this, I realized I already wrote a similar post on this: Startup Sales Leadership: The GoodFellas Mindset.
Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic and a co-founder of Topo. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • The hardest part about focusing on “the nut” is you get caught up trying to patch organizational holes as you see them.

    I’m a digital marketer by trade but my technical skills combined with deficits I recognized led me developing our intranet, building and maintaining an HRM system and eventually acting as primary administrator for an 11 person Customer Support department.

    As your mentor pointed out though, all of that value gets ignored when it comes at the expense of your primary responsibilities.

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  • Carly Wennogle

    So true for startup or small organizations! Per usual, good share Craig!