Simplify the complex, and improve performance

Every Tuesday, sales expert Andy Bounds shares his top tips to improve your sales and communications (you can get more of his advice at This week’s is…

“My team’s performance has improved by 32%. Just because I simplified things for them.”
So said one of my customers last week.

She told me she could pinpoint the moment their performance started improving – when she started using a simple technique I showed her.

So, here it is. It’s very powerful – with your team and/or yourself…

  1. Start by splitting their job into its 2-3 core components. For example, her team works in sales, so we decided on two – (1) are they seeing enough potential customers, and (2) are they persuading them to take the next step (meet with them again, buy something, etc)?

  2. Create a table. In Column #1, write their name. In Column #2, write Core Component 1 (so, here, it would be “Seeing enough people?”) Head up Column #3 with Core Component 2

  3. Both of you agree a grade for how good the person is at consistently doing each component well. Use whichever system you like. I like to keep it simple and give people an A if they’re exceeding expectations; B if they’re meeting them; and C if they aren’t

  4. Write these grades in Columns #2 and #3

  5. Start a new Column #4 called “Activities”. In this, list at least ten activities they could do, to improve their grades. This takes a while. But it’s important. Having to write ten forces you/them to think of non-obvious things (which can often be better/quicker than the obvious ones)

  6. Open up Column #5 called “Immediate first steps”. Here, write the (max) three immediate actions they’ll do differently right now. Make sure these are immediately actionable. For example, if in Column #4, you realised the best activity would be to ask for more referrals, the immediate next steps might be:-

• Walk to your computer
• Print off your customer list
• Highlight the three customers who like you best
• Create and practise a referral script
• Call them up and say the script to them

  1. Agree how you’ll manage them doing this. What I/my customer do is this:

• Boost confidence by managing the activity (did she ask for the referrals?), not the result (did she get them?)
• Continually reinforce the activity by asking them the same question “who’ve you asked for referrals today?” as often as possible

• Build pace by agreeing when you’ll next meet to formally discuss their progress. Tell them in advance of this next meeting that you’ll only be covering two things – their best success since Meeting One, and what immediate first steps they’ll be doing next

• Repeat… repeat… repeat…

Two quick questions:

Are you achieving your potential?
Is your team?

This simple exercise will give you new, easy ways to help ensure you do.

Action Point

Do the table.

For you.

And/or your team.

And then consistently, relentlessly do your immediate first steps. Then repeat… repeat… repeat…

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