Making consistent small improvements can deliver a massive impact to your overall performance.
Sports teams provide a great example: England v France Feb 2017 Six Nations, think of how each phase of play may only gain the team 4 or 5 meters. It seems punishingly hard work. But as they progress down the field into a scoring position, eventually a try is achieved.
Sometimes we are always looking to celebrate the big wins but we forget the small incremental steps that got us there. It’s so easy to ignore or under value the small wins people have.
Acknowledging these and giving them recognition motivates and inspires them to keep going when the going seems tough on the road to achieving their goals.
This is especially important when you have a large sales target to hit each year or you are given a large complex project to deliver on time.
Often whilst doing executive coaching this issue comes up. Hard working business owners and executives express how the day to day business priorities and pressures are pushing out the bigger more important projects that they know they should be working on for long term growth. It can be a frustrating experience as you never seem to get the time you need!
So how can you get the time to work on your important growth projects?
One of the best approaches I’ve found to achieve this is by applying the following 5 Steps.
1. Break the whole task down into 5 smaller steps that act like a staircase, logically linking together your climb from one task to the next to achieve your goal.
2. Make the steps small enough to manage and complete within short time frame. Then put all your focus and energy into completing the first step.
3. Allocate 90 minutes every other day to work on the big project. This helps you maintain your performance in your other daily activities whilst allowing you to complete the big project.
4. Book these 90min time slots as priority meetings with yourself and then ensure you and others respect them!
5. Create accountability and visibility by sharing your steps with a colleague or partner who will hold you to them and keep momentum high.
6. Finally, celebrate the incremental wins as you go step by step. It will give you added energy and drive to complete the whole task.
Working with this process has three powerful effects:
1. Head space – Mentally you feel more in control and it removes the negative habit of procrastinating which in itself is emotionally draining your energy.
2. Momentum – Taking action! …getting started on an important first step gives you added energy and focus to complete the project on time.
3. Motivation – Achieving completion on these business building projects gives you a real sense of accomplishment that motivates not only you but your whole team to take the business to the next level!
How could you use this same principle to add value to your clients?
I was reminded of the incremental principle unexpectedly early one Monday morning during a taxi ride to the train station.
Halfway through the journey the taxi driver turned and asked me, “Would you like a receipt?”
I looked at him quizzical as I wondered why was he asking me half way through the journey.
I said “why are you going to charge me 40 quid?” – He laughed…and replyed
“No I just thought I’d save some time, instead of making you wait for me to write it out when we arrive I’ll have it all ready for you. I find most customers are rushing for the train first thing in the morning!”
Then he shared with me an interesting thought, he added ” you know every day before I pick up a fare I write out a receipt so they don’t have to wait and I just have to fill in the amount on arrival.”
Sure enough on arrival he handed me the receipt and I was promptly on my way.
Contrast this with my regular experience, where I’m sitting waiting with a queue of impatient drivers behind while the cabbie looks for his pen, remembers what date it is and then fills in the receipt! This was a refreshing change.
It reminded me of an important lesson.
Small things count.
What could you do in your business? It might seem a small difference to you but does it make life easier for your customers?
How about asking them what’s the best time of day to call them?
Do they prefer communication via emails or do they appreciate a personal call?
Why not try and personalise your service so it really works for them.
Have you ever taken a step back and mapped out your entire sales process from beginning to end from your Customers point of view?
When I complete this exercise with clients we almost always find parts of the sales process that have evolved over time to suit us as a company but are actually cumbersome or duplicative for the customer! By making some simple changes often improvements can be made that make us easier to deal with from the customer’s perspective and benefit the organisation’s effectiveness.
So why not ask yourself…
Are we really easy to deal with?
Do our services and products synchronise with and support our customers in achieving their goals?
Often when consulting with firms I review elaborate account management plans created at the beginning of the year for their key clients. The issue many of these plans have in common is that they been prepared without first involving and consulting the client themselves to ensure the plan actually supports them. In big and small areas.
By doing this we can all score dramatic wins!