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The “One Thing”

by David Brock on August 13th, 2019

Sales people and managers struggle with achieving their goals. We have to do everything–prospect, work the deals in our pipelines, do increasing amounts of reporting, and on and on.

When we struggle to achieve our goals, the answers, perhaps disguised as coaching, are to “Do More!” Usually, that means do more of everything; prospecting working the deals in our pipelines, and more reporting.

Sometimes it’s “Do more of this one thing….” These days, it’s usually more prospecting, as if that’s the only answer to fixing a lean pipeline.

Now here’s where it starts to get confusing, hang in there.

We know we have to do the whole job. We have to constantly prospect, we have to work the deals in our pipelines, we even have to do the reporting (though we should minimize the time we spend doing that). We have to balance our activities across everything we need to do to produce results this month, this quarter, this year, as well as laying the groundwork for next year.

But what happens when we are struggling and our managers ask us to do more, realistically we can’t and shouldn’t do more of everything. We shouldn’t even do two or three things.

We have to focus on the “One Thing.” It’s the thing that has the greatest impact in getting us back on course.

But that “One Thing,” is different for each sales person. For one, it may be increasing win rates. For another, it may be increasing average deal size, for another it may be driving stronger account plans/execution, for another it may be more prospecting. (I do know the “One Thing,” is never more reporting, despite what your manager may tell you.)

The magic about choosing the right “One Thing,” is that it ripples through and impacts all the other things you have to do as a sales person. For example, increasing win rates reduces the number of qualified opportunities you need to have a healthy pipeline, which, in turn, reduces the amount of prospecting to maintain a healthy pipeline.

Think of the “One Thing” like the pins in a bowling alley. If you aim for one of the side pins in the back row, you will knock down a few, if you’re lucky (I always get gutter balls when I do that). Aim for the headpin, you have the possibility (probability) of knocking down all the pins.

As you look at closing the gap in your performance (or your people’s) take the time to figure out the “One Thing,” that provides the greatest performance leverage. Focus on that, everything else will come into alignment.

But…… (You know there had to be a but).

At some point the “One Thing” changes. You’ve done all you can with that one thing, you have to look to the next leverage point. For example, if you are focusing on improving your win rate, at some point it may be very difficult or time consuming to improve it much more (at least for the time being), then you look to the next leverage point. It could be increasing your average deal size, or maybe decreasing the sales cycle, or maybe better account planning/development, or more prospecting.

And these new “One Things,” impact each of the others.

High performance selling is really about identifying leverage points. We have to do the whole job, but as we look to improve, we need to identify the “One Thing,” that ripples through to everything else.

We’ve developed the Sales Execution Framework as a tool for managers and sales people to help identify their “One Things.” Email me for a copy!

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample
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