SPIF Tip #19: What it Really Takes to Improve Sales Results Permanently
been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Yet without understanding the system of causes and effects they are dealing with, managers cannot know what changes they should make to produce the results they desire.
What marketing and selling needs is a more scientific approach; an approach that allows managers to understand and analyze information about the performance of their organization and to reliably connect inputs/ causes with outputs/results.
To permanently improve the results that a process produces, you have to improve the process itself. You have to improve the methods by which the work gets done. The lack of such an approach is why many people shy away from accountability in marketing and sales and why many others are held accountable—and even penalized—for things they cannot control. They are basically told to improve their performance within the same process. That leaves an awful lot outside their control, including the materials they are working on and the ways in which they are supposed to work on them, while usually leaving the activities upstream and downstream from them unchanged.
These are exactly the sorts of things the quality movement addressed in manufacturing organizations, where many factors were beyond the control of the people doing the work, including the quality of raw materials, the uneven performance of equipment, and the demands of the ordering and expediting functions. The quality movement (TQM) and now Lean and Six Sigma have provided repeatable, structured, proven approaches for distinguishing what can be controlled from what can’t in manufacturing organizations. These techniques showed managers the specific changes they needed to make to their business to produce the results they desired. Those who made the changes got the results.
As the manager in charge, ask yourself these questions:
On a scale of 1 to 5, with five being the best possible, how effective is your organization at actually improving how sales and marketing work is done?
What would be required for your company to be ready to improve its sales processes more deliberately?
Who would need to make this decision? What would they need to understand?
What steps can you take to help make this happen?