The biggest waste of a salesperson’s time is the deal they do not get and just as logically, the biggest waste of an organisation’s time are the initiatives that go nowhere. Nike’s ‘Just do it’ should (in my opinion) be a management mantra just as much as it is a marketing statement. Focus on the immediate need and get about fixing it. If you are in the ‘solutions’ business how many times do you work with a prospective client only to find the project ‘delayed’ because an agreement with all the stakeholders cannot be reached? More often than you lose a bid outright to competition I would wager. How many times do you find that a year later the client has still to address the original issue?
I am on the ‘tube’ in London about to go in to a meeting to discuss the terms of reference for a joint bid (with salesforce.com and a services company) for implementing our account planning software solution. The reason for the meeting is to make sure we are focussed on what actually ‘needs to be done’ and not on all the peripheral ‘nice to haves’. The project has become an increasingly complex review of requirements which is threatening the clarity we started out with.
I was in another meeting yesterday where we were holding an Account Development Workshop in order to define our client’s business process so that we could map our software against it. As we went through the various options we had to stop ourselves from taking on too much. It was natural that we started to look at all the reporting opportunities and the links between the Account Development process and financial planning but, again, what was intended to be an initiative focussed on a clear business objective was in danger of becoming moribund in a complex network of inter-dependencies.
At yesterday’s meeting we quickly recognized that we were attempting to ‘boil the ocean’ and decided that issues such as financial reporting could wait. Re-focussing on the central objectives meant that the trade-off between a perfect solution and the timely delivery of business benefits was an easy decision. What matters is that we get going and begin to move the organisation forward. We can tackle the other advantages of the solution at a later date. Start focussed and evolve.
I am not sure what the outcome of today’s meeting is going to be. Hopefully all parties will understand that if we stay focussed and resist the temptation to wonder ‘off task’ we can start the ball rolling. What will come as a pleasant surprise is that once we have momentum it will be much easier to address the ‘peripheral’ issues and actually exceed the expectations of the original brief.
Right, I am getting off here.