I must admit that I am a bit cynical when I see my pet dog, Adi, chasing his tail and running in circles. Now that reminds me of the way most companies run sales improvement projects. They keep on going round and round in circles with no end in sight, and the management rewards them for their efforts too.

Over the years, we have helped multiple companies in structuring their sales process. And we were not the first ones to get these assignments; the companies on an average had changed the head of sales thrice before they came knocking on our door. In most of the cases they were doing the same mistakes time and again and expecting different results, changing people does not shoo away the problem, the problem just passes over to a new incumbent. From my experience, these are the four golden rules of improvement, if you follow these principles, you will increase your chances of success by multiple times.

 

Start with meaningful data

Collecting useful data is the foundation of success, and the irony is that too often, teams collect inappropriate data or make poor collection procedures. Since they have never been shown how to recognize such mistakes, they base their decisions on unreliable data and end up failing to bring about the desired improvement. They collect more data and make more improvement without realizing that they are looking for apples in an orange orchard.

Collecting meaningful data in the first place can save you months of effort, doing this is not too complicated either. The golden rule is first to know exactly what you want to collect, using standard definitions so that everyone takes the measures the same way.

 

Be a Badger, dig deeper for root-cause

It is easier to react to the visible symptoms rather than searching for the underlying cause. The best way is to use a fishbone diagram or the five why method to explore the potential sources of the problems. You should have patience and avoid zeroing on to the first possible solution, however, plausible and palatable that may look.

 

Develop relevant solutions

The curse of being intelligent is that it forces most of us to pre-empt solutions or root-cause of the problem even before starting the solutions or data gathering phase, sometimes we may be correct too. However, this can be an exception and not the norm. In my experience, the right solution that fixes the problem for once and all is never evident at the first stage.

 

Plan and make changes

There is an adage, which says, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail“. However, over the years we have got attuned to “Ready, Fire and aim” instead of “Ready, aim and fire.” This attitude is slippery and encourages people to act even if it is not the right thing to do. The key to making strides at work is to have your teams look ahead, anticipate resources needed for a successful project and think about the steps to take if they hit a wall.