6 Practical Ways to Cut the Crap in Sales
As a sales leader does this sound familiar? You have developed a new sales strategy. You have communicated it far and wide to the entire sales team; you have made minor adjustments based on the input you received. You seem to have a consensus and buy-in that the strategy is on the right track.
But as you begin to execute, you find that progress towards your strategic goals is slower than you expected; barriers are getting in the way.
When you discuss the situation with your sales team, the overwhelming feedback you get is that people don’t have the time to take on the added work required to implement the new sales direction and that more resources are needed.
There are only so many hours of the day and they say they have no more to give. In addition, people are saying there are too many priorities; they don’t know what to focus on given the overwhelming number of demands being made of their time.
These are the common symptoms that “CRAP” is alive and well in your organization.
CRAP is work that you’re doing that is no longer relevant to the new strategy you have created. But for some reason, it continues…. and continues…. and continues.
Sucking up energy and hours of the day that could and should be devoted to doing the new stuff necessary to progress the organization.
Most people like CRAP
CRAP is comfortable — it’s comfy food.
CRAP is familiar — we love doing what we know.
CRAP is rewarding — it’s what got you recognized.
The problem is, in order to move on and take on new challenges, CRAP needs to be destroyed; purged from the work environment.
THE biggest source extra time to do new stuff is CRAP. If only the old stuff could be eliminated just imagine the time that could be freed up to do new things.
Follow these steps to eliminate the grunge in your organization preventing you from moving on.
The CRAP champion
Assign a CRAP champion to be responsible for creating an inventory of all projects and major activity consuming resources in the organization. You need one person whose only role sole is to identify CRAP and eliminate it.
This is not a part-time job; don’t make the mistake of assigning this task to someone as a part-time responsibility. In fact, their annual compensation plan needs to be based solely on how much CRAP they are able to dispose of and make available for a new activity —No CRAP; no pay.
And if you think you don’t have any CRAP in your sales organization, you’re fooling yourself!
In terms of what to include on the inventory list, you may decide to include only those items that have a budget over a certain expense level — for example, $100,000 annually — in order to avoid getting buried in small items that don’t have the potential to yield material savings.
The KEEP list
From the project inventory list, create a draft KEEP list. This list contains only projects and activities that are directly aligned with the new strategy; it must be kept as small in number as possible in order to make room for the new activities required.
Be brutal on what goes on this list. If a project is less than 80% aligned with the new strategy don’t KEEP it.
This list should ONLY house no-brainer work that is so obviously necessary that it attracts no debate whatsoever.
Remember to keep the pressure on finding a way to resource the critical actions necessary to have an impact on the new strategy.
The CUT list
Also, create a draft CUT list; those major work items on the inventory list that are not aligned with the new strategy. Make the CUT list as long as you can; force yourself to define a significant chunk of your current work as out-of-alignment with the new direction so that a detailed evaluation of each project can be made.
There will be a tendency for people to try and rationalize everything as being necessary; don’t fall into this trap otherwise, you won’t release time that can be reassigned to a new activity.
And be sure to identify and record the people working on each CUT item because they represent a resource surplus that must be dealt with.
Have a critical assessment meeting and involve senior sales leaders responsible for the execution of your new strategy. Have each CUT project prime into the room and have them justify in detail how their project relates to the new strategy and why it should be put on the KEEP list. The side benefit of doing this is to see how well these folks really understand the new sales direction.
Decide which CUT projects will be terminated and the resource savings that will result — move the savings to a new budget center reserved for reallocation to new projects and activity.
The people plan
Develop a resource re-assignment plan for those people currently engaged in CUT activity.
Be prepared to exit people who either don’t have the skills to take on a KEEP project or who don’t want to support your new direction (there will always be individuals who are comfortable with what they re currently doing and who don’t want to change. These people need to be exited from the sales team.
Communicate the results of your work to the entire sales organization. Discuss the KEEP and CUT projects and why certain projects were terminated. This is a great opportunity to talk about the new sales strategy and involve the team accountable for executing your new course.
And plan to provide periodic updates on how the CRAP activities are progressing with the new work that been made possible by eliminating unnecessary work.
Resist the temptation to declare that the CRAP initiative has succeeded and that it is no longer required. In my experience, CRAP has a tendency to creep back in every time your sales strategy is modified to meet the new challenges that come along.
Keep CRAP as a permanent role in the organization to continue to reap its benefits.