Identify The Issue
So, first step, really simple. It’s not complicated at all. Just identify the general issue. Just like, just like, write down what you feel the problem is, right? My sales ratio is low. My sales team’s, you know, closing ratios are low. Um, you can’t hire anybody. Um, my turfs too small. The customer doesn’t, you know, wanna open the, you know, doesn’t wanna talk to me during covid, whatever it is, just write it down. That’s it. So that’s first step. Not very glamorous, not very thought provoking, but it’s important.
Okay? Step two, gather data. Okay, so what does this mean? Start to really understand all the drivers and restrainers associated with the problem, right? So, if we use the example of, you know, my team’s closing ratio has been dropping over the last six months. So, what are all the drivers that are making the sales ratio good? So you’re like, Okay, well my top guy has a 60% closing ratio, Steve. Um, you know, we’ve got our marketplace right now where, you know, whatever, we’ve got more leads coming at us than we could handle. Our team itself is, you know, whatever is quite seasoned, so that we’ve got quite a few guys with experience on the team. You just write down all the drivers, and then the next column, write down all the restrainers. Our bottom sales ratio person is this person. We stopped giving our quotes as much time. We went from two hour quotes down to one and a half hour quotes. Just try and squeeze in all these new leads that we kept generating. We haven’t done a sales training session in the last four months due to Covid. We haven’t done anything live like start to write down all the risk trainers. I want to add something to this because do you feel like an emotion could get in the way of data? Does that make sense? There’s data and then there’s a feeling, right? You want to call the feeling the data. Yeah. And I think that you might skew your data based on how you’re feeling in the moment and actually not look at facts to be facts. And it’s like, Well, all my reps are lazy. But no, that’s a feeling. It doesn’t show that all your reps are lazy. The data actually shows that you have a bad relationship with some of your reps. Yeah. And that some of them are kind of frustrated with how you’re running things. And so they’re not de they’re demotivated because they don’t feel they have clarity. You know what I mean? And so it’s like, no, the facts are they’re putting in 12 deals a month, you know, or whatever it is. Like the fact the data is this, that their average door knocks are x. I think that it’s really important to distinguish the difference between a relationship or a feeling or a frustration versus data. Yep. Data doesn’t lie. Feelings lie all day long.
Root Problem Statement
When, when I’ve done this problem solving exercise in the past, where it’s actually worked out the best is we do round tables of four or five of us and we basically come with our general issue. We work together and people start to give me their facts and feelings about the drivers and restrainers other people beyond myself. Then from there together we agree on what’s the third step, which is about to go through as a root problem statement. So, we look at the facts and feelings of everything, and we look through all the drivers and restrainers and we’re like, Huh, it looks like what we’re talking about. I’ll just continue with this example of sales ratio. Looks like what we’re talking about is like, ever since we like stopped giving people two hours to do quotes and giving them an hour and a half to do quotes that we’ve like gone down actually. Training and all these other things are important, but there’s something going on in that. We start to discuss that and we discover something like we’re not building rapport like we used to, You know, we’re just out giving prices and talking to people and trying to get to the next quote because we have so many leads coming in. And so, suddenly your general issue of our closing ratios are lower turns into a root problem statement.
If you’re a doctor, you’ve now gotten to the root of the whole thing, which is we’re not building rapport with our customer. And now you’ve got a much more like narrowed in simpler thing to problem solve than this big issue of like, we need to do more sales, get more leads, whatever. Like you’re not getting the root of it. So yeah, if you think about a doctor, their job is to not be like, you know, here’s a pill that’ll cover up the symptoms of your, of your problem is to be like, this is the root cause, you know, your thyroid is whatever a problem, let’s change that so you stop having these things that we’re having to cover up through, through medication. So, same way with this problem, uh, with this problem solving exercise, you wanna get down to the root so you can finally like, zap it in the butt.
I think a lot of times people, they solve kind of the, the circumference of the problem. Like they’re kind of like, Ooh, this isn’t easier tackle, and I’m, and, and what it ends up doing is distracting them from being able to spend time and energy. It’s, it’s, it’s sucking the time and energy they could be spending on the root, which will then dissolve all of the, the leaves they’re plucking off, leaves off a tree instead of just pulling the tree out of like, pull the freaking weed.
Write Down All Possible Solutions
And how many times have you ever done this, Sam? I’ve done this. The CRM system doesn’t track things that way. Okay, we’ll just like use this little hack. Okay, we’ll just do this, Well, we’ll do that one in Excel quick. It is just constantly problem solving things that actually don’t really work well together. And then you, are going around in circles and not really solving anything. If the root issue wasn’t fully understood when the solutions started to come and the solutions may have solved the problem for the short term, but to really genuinely get the long term issue resolved, you need to get down to, to the root issue of the whole thing, the root problem state. So, step one is like, identify a general issue, gather data, all the drivers and restrainers on the whole thing. Do it as a group if you can, with your team. Then from there, agree on one root problem statement. It’s like, how can we increase our closing ratios through having more time with customers and increasing rapport, whatever. Be very specific with the written out route problem statement.
Only now are you ready to actually generate options, right? So, what are all the things we can do? Well, we should definitely do a training session on building rapport. I should do two buddy estimates per sales rep over the next two months and provide some feedback after the training session. We should have them documenting all the rapport topics that they talk about with every customer so that they’re forced to think about do they even build rapport in, in, in each session. We should probably move from the, the hour and a half quote back up to two hours and just, we do a better job with our pre-screening calls to do like some training on pre-screening so we have less quotes to do. We just say no to people that we know aren’t serious. Now we are getting all these options that you can put on this option tree that are pointing towards the one issue versus just a bunch of general stuff.
Build A Plan
And then the fifth piece is the building of the plan. Now, out of all your options, you select the ones that are most relevant to happen. Usually it’s lowest hanging fruit, things that are the easiest to implement and the quickest to kind of attack the root problem statement. You always wanna look at yourself and say, Is this directly impacting the root problem statement? Or is this some indirect par fairy idea that doesn’t really matter. Right? And people do have to watch out a little bit from what I call like the creative dragon. I’ve seen this a lot in like university. I remember I used to go to entrepreneurship classes and, and you know, basically just be a judge for like different business ideas. And I saw all these like really terrible business ideas that were super creative, but they weren’t very practical, right? So, you really have to look at your lists of things you’ve, options you’ve generated and say like, what’s, like, what’s practical? Like realistically, what are the three things we actually are gonna go do? Because I’ve got 22 here. And the reality is we’re not probably gonna do all of this, although they might be great ideas.
So, to break it down, identify the general issue. At least writing something down. Gather the data, so the drivers and restrains on that issue. From that start to see the pattern so you can identify the root problem and write down a root problem statement. Gather options to solve it. Complete freedom to do it. No restrainers. Then build a plan of execution. So, we’re gonna pick these three and here’s how we’re gonna do it. You literally have to schedule the time these things are gonna happen, who’s gonna be involved, how much money is gonna be budgeted and allocated towards it and an actual strategic plan gets written down towards the execution of it with time, money, and people involved.