Ok. A confession. I’m in the tool business, yet I generally hate business tools. For the most part, I’ve found over the course of my career that they’re generally over-hyped in terms of their contribution to my productivity and way more time consuming to learn how to use than anyone ever led me to believe at the outset. In fact, even in instances where the tools had great potential to improve my productivity, people often impeded the contributions business tools could make.
I’m reminded, for instance, of my affection for adding machines. I’d been a klutz with numbers from an early age. Dropped out of bookkeeping in Grade 11 back in 1970. An adding machine looked like a God-send when I was asked nine years later to produce an enrolment report for my boss, the CEO of a community college. In that business, enrolments were the key to cash. Kinda important to get the numbers right. Problem was, the adding machine had no tape + without it I wasn’t getting the rows + columns to reconcile. So … I asked for a tape. Go ask Finance, I was told. Went upstairs + asked them. They said, “no way, we’re the only folks in this business allowed to have tapes with their adding machines.” Became pretty clear it was going to take more than an adding machine tape to achieve the goal of a report that added up. In the end, the difference maker was how people reacted + aligned.
Parallels exist between this experience and what I’ve seen in our efforts to help firms improve the productivity of their B2B sales teams. Those parallels came into sharp relief, recently, as I read Les McKeown’s musings on Predictable Success. McKeown notes that in business we’re often “given the tools for success and an expectation of success, but no dependable way of combining the two to consistently achieve success”.
In McKeown’s view, ‘getting the numbers right’ doesn’t deliver predictable success. It takes more. It takes an ability to make decisions. Goal setting + achievement. Alignment of people + processes. Self-accountability for results + accountability to others. Personal ownership of actions + outcomes.
I agree. Get the right numbers to the right people with the right tools and they’ll astonish you with how personally accountable they become for the impacts they’re able to have. Success becomes both achievable + predictable when self-accountable people are aligned in their efforts to produce results, and equipped to see + understand the success with which they’re doing so.
An example of this model of predictable success in B2B sales, achieved from a combination of information, self-accountability, and alignment is available here