A Gem from Noah Fleming – Differences in Productivity per Employee
I was working with a company not long ago where the president was trying to figure out what accounted for the vast differences in productivity per employee.
They’d just introduced some new, transparent metrics showing the different effectiveness levels of everybody on the team. Some who were less efficient than others were burning themselves out trying to raise their score by merely increasing the number of hours they worked. To their credit, they worked hard, but they couldn’t seem to close the gap.
I pointed out to the president (and the team) that in horse racing, the horse that wins didn’t work 10X harder–it often wins by a nose. It’s not all about just putting in more hours and more effort. Or, consider the difference between gold and silver medal in any Olympic competitive event.
The gold medal winners have 10X the opportunities after their win to capitalize on that success than the silver medal winner, but the gold medal winner didn’t work 10X harder. In most events, they’ve won by a split second. They’ve won by a margin well under 1%.
So what does lead to those 10X results? If you look at what the “experts” have to say on social media, you’d think that the only thing you need to do is more, and more of that, and then more of that. But is it?
To make the point even more explicit to this team I was talking to, I brought out one of my favorite toys, the Rubik’s Cube. It has trillions of possible states that it can be in, but there is only one that is “solved.” And yet, learning to solve it is a process so simple that a child can learn it. It’s not about being 10X smarter–it’s just about knowing what to do, in what order.
Superstars aren’t the ones who work 10X harder than their peers. They’re the ones who recognize where the highest and best use of their time and efforts are and consistently apply themselves in those areas. That’s the secret if there ever was one. To bring it back to my toy–The ones who can “solve” it aren’t smarter, and they didn’t work harder…What they learned was the right process, and then followed it every time.
In sales organizations, for example, the superstars aren’t the ones who are supernaturally personable.They’re not the ones who work 14 hour days. They’re not the ones who are incredibly brilliant. Of course, these traits help, but the world is littered with failed salespeople who are brilliant, who are charming, and who work hard.
The superstars are the ones who recognize the MOST IMPORTANT elements of their sales process and discipline themselves to do ALL of the important work.
This will be different from industry to industry, but there are some generalizations we can make:
- They are the ones who follow up with their clients after the first sale and maintain a relationship.
- They are the ones who ask for referrals on a regular basis.
- They are the ones who identify the “gaps” between what they offer and what their clients are buying, and present compelling cases as to why the client should be buying more from them.
- They are the ones who take the time to role-play high-value opportunities, to ensure they understand the ways that their proposal may be lacking or be able to “Make those skeletons dance!” when a prospect brings up a likely objection
There are other elements, of course, and it’s not the case that successful salespeople have to do everything. What they do have to do is identify the core elements that they can bring the highest value to, and commit to doing all of those.
Too often, we see salespeople (and employees in general) who allow themselves to get bogged down by urgent but low-value work, cutting into their ability to hit every element that’s required. And when that happens, they don’t just cost themselves 10% or 20% effectiveness–they’re cutting their earning potential by 80-90% or more.
Your Challenge For This Week: Take a look at some of the most important areas of your business and try to identify what’s made the most significant impact.
Write down the top 1-3 things that impact your sales results, revenue generation, client experiences, or your retention efforts, etc. That’s it. The top 1-3 things in each area that have the most significant impact on your business results.
Now, ask yourself if you and your people are truly spending your time on the highest priority areas, and doing them consistently well, or filling your time trying to haphazardly 10X everything.
I can almost guarantee it’s not about doing “more, More, MORE!” but rather, doing the right things well, consistently well, 99% of the time. Remember, winning by a hair–is still winning!