Living in the Past - Trying to Predict the Future

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<ul><li><p>8/6/2019 Living in the Past - Trying to Predict the Future</p><p> 1/5</p><p>Living in the past - Trying to predict the future</p><p>This essay is the feature</p><p>article in the May 2011 issueof The Training Journal andcan be accessed at their siteby clicking on the zombie.The essay offers anexplanation for the failure ofmany sales training andcompany change projects anda unique but effective weaponfor fighting the zombiesinfesting these critical revenuegrowth efforts. The TJ site issubscription only so you can</p><p>read the article here but youwill miss the good pictures.</p><p>Living in the past - Trying to predict the future</p><p>Its like dj vu all over again, again. The news is not new; sales training/changeprojects are still failing to achieve predicted results. Experts are at a loss as to whythis continues to occur. There is only one possible explanation left; zombies areterrorizing sales change/training projects and causing them to fail.</p><p>As expected, heroic effort has been devoted to zombie obliteration: new trainingsolutions are being introduced on a regular basis; tortured explanations are offered</p><p>on why training projects havent been more successful; checklists developed onalternate approaches for success; and finally, when all else fails, changing the nameto confuse the zombies (see sales transformation, Sales Change Managementindustry, Sales 2.0). But to little effect, the zombies seem undaunted, and analystsstill report a 60-80% failure rate:</p><p> 75% of change initiatives failed to reach their goals - ConqueringOrganizational Change, Mourier and Smith</p><p> 70% of Business Change projects fail - John P Kotter, Leading Change,Harvard Business School,</p><p> Only 30% of transformation projects succeed - 2008, McKinsey survey 80% of sales training does not achieve its goals - Dave Stein, ESR Research</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Living in the Past - Trying to Predict the Future</p><p> 2/5</p><p>The zombies seem indefatigable</p><p>In attempting to impart new behaviors or skills to an individual or group the firststep has always been the same: determine what the target trainee knows or is ableto demonstrate concerning the subject. In the dim past, as the effects of theexploding zombie population took hold, trainers and training organizations reacted</p><p>by upgrading their pre-training assessment processes. Before-all-else assessmentsare now rampant; involving prodigious data collection and ranging from analysis ofthe entire sales and marketing environment to niche examinations of market, salesand marketing tools, target prospects, sales and management teams, processes, or,</p><p>just to be sure, asking the CEO.</p><p>These changes seemed reasoned and logical (well, maybe not the last one), because,thethinking went: You cant develop an effective solution to any problem unless youunderstand the problem and the issues creating the problem. With the rightassessment the appropriate training, evaluation, and the latest change management</p><p>methods can be appliedto fix the problems in the sales process.</p><p>Seemed like a sound approach, but the failure rate was still high. So trainers andtraining organizations reacted by expanding their capabilities and examining their</p><p>processes to a fare-thee-well making assessments more detailed, data analysis morescientific, and content presentation more rigorous. Yet the only change seems to bean increase in the reasons training wasnt succeeding. The zombies were not goingto be deterred easily.</p><p>What will help us in our hour of need?Occams Razor! Who? Not a person, a scientific logic tool, which does not say thesimplest explanation is the right one; Occams Razor actually says when examiningcompeting explanations (all seeming to accurately describe the situation) the oneneeding the fewest additional assumptions is likely the right one. For example, whentrying to explain the engineering ability of ancient peoples we could imagine howextraterrestrial zombies passed on their advanced techniques, but we would need a</p><p>large number of additional assumptions (for example, did the Egyptians speakKlingon?). Our currently accepted explanations seem to resolve the question withmany fewer new assumptions.</p><p>The new training and change approaches, the tortured explanations of why pastattempts failed, the checklists of how to make behavior change successful, and thenew names all offer explanations which seem to accurately describe the situation buttheir corrections for the problem have not been effective. Interestingly they alldepend on one assumption, not new, but gaining in strength as the training andprocess change industry has developed: assessments will determine what isineffective or wrong with a sales process.</p><p>Maybe zombies are just the result of the frequent pep talks by the demented sales</p><p>managers who were extras in Night of the Living Dead.</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Living in the Past - Trying to Predict the Future</p><p> 3/5</p><p>Not particularly effective</p><p>Educationally assessments are tools used to document, in measurable terms,individual knowledge or skill as it exists at that moment: they are not designed to be</p><p> judgmental or prescriptive. Their use is comparative; for example, to compare apersons reading skills to what is normal for their age; or to compare individual skills</p><p>to what is normal for a person reading at a certain level.While assessments are effective tools when trying to improve skills they are notparticularly effective when trying to improve a process. You can devisemeasurement criteria for a sales process, but there is no matching average or normfor comparison, other than the prior effectiveness of the same sales process.</p><p>Why not?</p><p>The use of many training/change assessments are actually measurements againstwhat the examiner, or assessing organization, believes has been successful in thepast. They create assumptions about what needs to be changed now based on whatwas previously successful. Then they attempt to implement the change, which isreally an attempt to recreate a past success, using the skills or strategies effective in</p><p>these past organizational successes.</p><p>Unfortunately all the variables affecting your sales process (worldwide economy, newtechnologies, the sales and/or marketing team, competitors, prospect knowledge,the weather, the process itself, etc.) have never existed before and will be differentin the future. A moment-in-time assessment of a process involving constantlychanging variables is useless; and worse is immediately incorrect. How do we know?We have been creating our own version of the Zombieland surviving-in-a-zombie-infested-world rules list; a completely ineffective list of responses to the lack ofsuccess in current training/change projects which continues to expand in spite ofshowing no increase in the training success rate or the obliteration of zombies.</p><p>Why are the zombies winning?</p><p>The zombies are winning because the inappropriate use of assessments to definesales training and change projects has forced organizations and trainers to attemptprediction of the future. Sure they are right once in a while but the odds aredefinitely bad; and the results prove it.</p><p>There has been a lot of research into how people can adapt their current behavior toadopt more effective behaviors. In the last century a Solutions Focused Approach(SFA) was developed and has proven to be highly effective and a foundationalstarting point for getting humans to adopt more effective behaviors. SFA focuses onidentifying what is working, when it is working, and how to get it to work better andavoids discussion about the cause of problems or analyzing the problem(s).</p><p>In todays sales training/change industry assessments are used as the first step insolving the problem; which, according to the SFA peer-reviewed research, meansthey are actually a major cause of increasing the likelihood of failure. In fact SFAresearchers have shown that focusing on, attempting to define, or understand the</p><p> problem is counterproductive to the adoption, by humans, of more effectivebehaviors.</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Living in the Past - Trying to Predict the Future</p><p> 4/5</p><p>Understanding and solving a problem does not tell/show you what the most effectivething-to-do-next is. This all sounds like common-sense, doesnt it? Or maybe youare thinking this sounds more like weak-kneed, left-wing, touchy-feely flamingpablum. Consider, however, SFA methods deal directly with how humans behave;how humans react when they are not performing to the level they desire; howhumans typically deal with problems; and how humans can more consistently</p><p>identify the most effective changes leading to more successful behavior and betterresults and, in spite of some disquieting evidence to the contrary, all revenue teammembers are still human.</p><p>Commit to eliminating zombies!</p><p>To eliminate the sales training/change zombies you need to focus like a reformedsmoker or Buddhist monk on the present; get a handle on what is really happening,right now. Assessments are not effective in doing this because they cannot createan accurate description of a process with constantly changing variables. Whatshould the first step be? Heres what the SFA research says:</p><p> Represent/describe the current process Avoid analysis of what is not working Focus on what is working and when it is working If something isnt working, stop doing it as soon as possible Define actions(goals) and concrete feedback criteria to improve the success</p><p>rate of each step in your process</p><p>Sounds simple enough but how is a process represented? Like any good zombieeliminating tool, its right in front of you: your own sales process, written down orembedded in your CRM system. Now you may think your sales process is the</p><p>problem, and it may be true that your process is a shambles and apparently in thetotal control of mutant space monkeys. But remember, the most effective approachto the adoption of more effective behaviors is not to focus on identifying or analyzing</p><p>problems but introducing small changes to make the process more effective in orderto produce and sustain better results.</p><p>Your representation of your sales process is the structure you will use to adopt moreeffective behaviors.</p><p> Write the process down, in the order it occurs, where an action or event leadsto the next step.</p><p> Work, every day, to eliminate any activity which cannot be concretelycounted. If you cant observe it, accurately and demonstrable count it, eitherfind a way to count it or get rid of it. No exceptions! No estimating, no thisperson said or we have to talk to this person; if it isnt an observableaction, or you cant see how it is counted, it shouldnt be part of your salesprocess.</p><p> Focus like a crazed zombie hunter to evolve the sales process from one whereyou are counting the activities of your sales or marketing team to one whereyou are counting the actions of the prospects and customers. This is a criticalpoint if you want to change the behavior of your team. How the prospectsreact and move through the cycle is the key indicator or how you are doingand how you will achieve better results.</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Living in the Past - Trying to Predict the Future</p><p> 5/5</p><p> Use your current meetings to discuss how to improve the actions beingmeasured at each step, in order to produce better results. Over time, therewill be no question about what actions team members should take next orwhat skills need improvement. Implement only small measurable actionswhich can be immediately counted and continued (only if successful from thevery beginning), or dropped immediately if there isnt immediate success</p><p>(remember your counting). Use expert consultants, trainers, and training organizations to introduce new</p><p>skills or improve current skills directly associated with making you moreeffective at each step in the process. Attack behaviors which will make a realdifference; making the revenue team better at moving prospects througheach step of the sales cycle.</p><p>Your sales process will evolve; incremental change will become obvious because youare focusing on what actually works; and you know it works because you aremeasuring it. Changes in individual behavior will evolve or be implemented solelybased on what needs to be done at each step to improve results. New behaviors willbe sustained because they will now be part of each individuals normal and dailyactivity.</p></li></ul>

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