Problem Solving Concept
Most managers approach their problems in the wrong way. They may think they have people or resource problems. Often times, the real problem may be identifying the wrong problem.
Whenever you approach the task of problem-solving, couch your thinking in terms of issues that are well beyond the obvious.
For example, assume you have an excellent Salesperson who suddenly resigns. When you find a replacement, you soon learn that Salespeople tend to set up their presentations to suit their preferences. For a period of time, you are forced to put up with chaos until the new person settles in. Even then, there are likely to be certain quirks, but you accept them because you are convinced that a sales process is, ultimately, the result of the salesperson’s discretion.
That is the typical manager’s reaction since he or she perceives the situation as a people problem. That is, you had better find a good Salesperson; otherwise, sales results will be disastrous.
That is the obvious solution. It is also the wrong one. If you look past the obvious, you will discover that you need to have a sales process in place.
When you recruit a new Salesperson, you simply say, “This is our system. If you want to work here, you must use it. Do you want the job?”
If you already have a Salesperson, the challenge becomes more complex because you must implement a process that will replace the manner in which the work is currently being done.
In the later scenario, when you begin the effort by announcing: “We need a new process,” you will immediately incur some level of resistance because the very introduction of the process may be wrong.
“THE CURRENT PROCESS IS GOOD ENOUGH”
No process is ever good enough. A successful manager is constantly searching for more effective ways of getting things done. Besides, if you have reached the point where you realize that a new process is needed, conditions are probably even worse that you could imagine!
“I DON’T HAVE TIME RIGHT NOW”
The people who don’t have time right now to implement a new process will never have the time. In fact, the objection makes no sense because an effective process should ultimately save time.
“MY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT”
What’s really being said here is that there aren’t enough similarities in sales to justify the use of a general process. (i.e. procedures, presentations, etc.). Consider the custom manufacturer who produces products for customers with different needs. Each job is different but the process to accomplish the objective is the same.
“WE DON’T NEED A PROCESS-EVERYBODY KNOWS WHAT TO DO”
- It is a fair assumption that everyone does not know what to do.
- Even if they did, a process that exists nowhere but in people’s heads does not really exist. The moment the slightest change occurs (someone leaves or is promoted), you are left with nothing.
“Processes Take Away Individuality”
Working in an organized, disciplined fashion tends to produce excellent results providing pride and accomplishment.
Processes can provide individuality by enabling people to set themselves apart based upon their ability to perform.
“I Don’t Know How It Works”
Once a process has been put in place, you may hear this reaction. Sometimes, a Salesperson will come forward with a question in a sincere attempt to understand. More often, the “lack of understanding” will be communicated with silent avoidance. It is common, and very frustrating, for managers to assume that a process is being used, only to learn (usually by accident) that its not. When asked why they failed to implement the process, employees usually say, “I couldn’t figure out how to use it.” Instead of asking for help, they choose to remain silent and ignore the process completely. If questioned further about their silence, they would probably protest that they “didn’t have the time” to ask the necessary questions. More often than not, that response is simply not true. They may simply decide to resist engaging in the process by resorting to alleged ignorance, coupled with a comfortable silence in the hope that you will forget about the entire issue.
These are a few examples of objections that you may hear when you introduce a new process. Normally, these objections do not reflect real issues.
The best approach to implementing a new process is to anticipate the objections and short-circuit them ahead of time. To do that, we must understand the real issues.
More often than not, fear of change is the real issue. An effective manager will focus his or her attention on those fears instead of superficial objections.
“ THE UNSPOKEN PROBLEMS”
Change terrorizes everyone. People take comfort in knowing what to expect.
When faced with the unknown, we become anxious, hostile and sometimes even dysfunctional because our routines have been changed.
Introducing a new process demonstrates that the current process is not working well. Since the salespeople themselves developed most current processes, the new process may be interpreted as a rejection of their efforts. The unspoken message may be that they haven’t performed well. Any rejection of their work is usually perceived as a rejection of them.
Change gives everyone an opportunity to learn new methods for doing things. As far as most people who have adopted a routine are concerned, this opportunity will result in a perception of failure. As a result, the person may not be motivated to learn something new and settle for what they have and understand.
Loss of Control
Few things are more terrifying than losing control of your routine. Losing that feeling of control can make some people feel vulnerable and “crazy.” Losing control of a routine can create the sense of being manipulated by some invisible force thereby losing the ability to control your own destiny. Losing control is the equivalent of insanity because “crazy people can’t control themselves.”
As irrational as these fears may be, they are real. You should not address them by merely announcing their existence to your people. Instead, you should keep the knowledge to yourself, and use it as the basis for your method of introducing new processes into the work environment.
Implementing the new Sales Process
You are ready to implement a Sales Process that has been designed, tested and documented. You want to have it implemented quickly, without any disruption.
If you simply introduce it and insist that it be used, months of hard work may be required to overcome internal objections that may be conjured up by the mannerism in which the new sales process was introduced.
The new Sales Process should be packaged as an attempt to improve working conditions or make people’s lives easier.
Too often, managers may ask their employees to take part in changes that will be in the company’s interest. For example, telling your people that a new sales process must be implemented because the company’s profits are dwindling is pointless. Worse yet, it could even produce some hostile anxiety.
Matters are made worse when work quality or sub-standard performance issues are pointed out when rolling out a new sales process. That may make people defensive -even if you can quantify the poor performance.
The announcement or rollout of a new process must appeal to your people’s sense of self-interest.
In short, we need to view our employees as internal customers. Sell them on how these new processes will benefit THEM, cater to THEIR OWN SELF INTERESTS, Get the “BUY-IN” from your people first, and get them excited about the journey to make things better.
Once that happens, you will be positioned to implement the new process quickly, without disrupting the current workflow.
One of the most challenging processes facing businesses today is understanding how to implement changes with-in the current business structure with-out interrupting the current flow of business.
Consideration / Concept
This process encourages all team players to become “engaged” in the process of change. As you can see, they are not being subjected to change; they are being involved in making changes.
This process “short circuits” “unspoken problems” such as Fear of change, Implied rejection of efforts, Fear of failure, and loss of control that people may conjure up because they have the feeling of being involved with the process of change.
You will have the ability to accomplish ten times more with less effort because you will not be doing all of the tactical work, your team will. Quite frankly, you may find that by delegating the tactical work in this fashion, the quality of the work will be better because certain members of your team may be more skilled at the task assigned to them than you are.
The concept of taking a “Survey” or getting “Feedback” on the front end of a project is an incredibly powerful strategy. The message you send the team when this strategy is implemented is that you value their opinion, experience, point of view and professionalism.
If the results from your survey are way off base, you have opened the door for education.
Let’s say that you “survey” your salespeople on the price range structure and they give you some ridiculously LOW numbers.
- Ask for evidence supporting their opinion. Find out what they based those opinions on.
- Demonstrate your willingness to listen to their feedback and take them seriously. That’s not to say you should follow their suggestion. Use this information to get a “feel” for where they are.
- Do some market research by collecting competitive bids and acquire hard evidence to support your decision NOT to lower prices that much.
- Focus your explanation on the value-added items included in your pricing structures that no one else in your market offers.
- Be prepared to SELL your SALESPEOPLE.
- As always, while managing change, stay away from statements or references to “poor performance or Low profits” to justify your decision. (Review Managing Change for more information about this issue).
Put it in writing
You should never delegate verbally.
Verbal delegation provides no historical record of what was said or of what tasks were assigned.
If human memory were perfect, there would be no need to write anything down.
Even where memory does not fail, written delegation avoids “convenient forgetfulness.”
Any manager using a verbal style of delegation could not possibly evaluate the results without a great deal of tension-filled interaction with his or her subordinate (Micro-Management), in which both attempt to reconstruct the past. The verbal style of delegation could result in a “war of words” in an attempt to recall who said what and when what was to be accomplished how.
Don’t take it back
Whenever someone has trouble completing a task, resist the urge to “take back” the task by doing the work your-self. By taking the task back, you’re wasting your time, de-motivating the team and failing to deal with the real problem. Learning can only be achieved by doing.
Expect a veritable avalanche of mistakes at first. Expect mistakes you never dreamed anyone would ever make. Since all people are different, all people will make different types of mistakes.
Mistakes will happen. That should cause you to make a critical judgment – whether those mistakes are just “part of the game,” if they suggest problems with the process being implemented or behavioral problems with the employee.