With complex problems, like uncertain revenue results from a sales team, choosing the most effective path to better performance can be really hard. Proving, afterwards, that you chose wisely can be even harder.
In their forthcoming book – Decisive – Dan and Chip Heath offer some relevant insights on how to make better choices. For CFOs or Sales Managers looking to decide how to improve revenue performance, the Heaths’ insights ought to be required reading. They start by noting 4 factors that inherently limit the wisdom of decisions:
- choice framing that’s too narrow to properly encompass all the choices that might make sense;
- using analyses to confirm our instincts, rather than challenge them [ 'confirmation biases' ];
- short term emotions limit our ability to rationally consider better, long-term, options; and
- overconfidence in what the future holds.
Their anecdotes for these four limiting factors strike me as a sensible recipe for finding wise paths to improved sales performance:
- widen your options. In doing so, be less hooked on a one-right choice. Choose + test a few;
- reality test your assumptions. Hello analytics. Especially fast ones. See the impacts of choices on results;
- attain distance before deciding. Aggregate your views of what you’re seeing. Step back. Pause; and
- prepare to be wrong. Expect failures. It’s a key part of the process of choosing wisely.
Underlying all of this is an underlying notion that wise decisions aren’t so much events to be celebrated as a process to be learned. And much of that learning will occur when choices are properly framed, tested, gauged, and adjusted. Their conclusions align nicely with, and simplify the core value of, the trial and error approach Taleb champions for choosing wisely when your conditions are complex and uncertain.
My only fear for the wisdom of Heaths’ ideas as they apply to B2B sales performance? Might the profession and its leaders be too overconfident in the future to see a need for wiser choices? Hmmm ….