Small Changes Make a Big Difference: How 1% Can Boost Your Bottom Line

Small Changes Make a Big Difference

In a world still awakening from a virtual economic shutdown, it’s tempting, as sales professionals, to try and do everything TODAY. After all – that fourth-quarter commission isn’t going to make itself.

At The Brooks Group, as we have talked to sales leaders and sales pros who have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, we know there’s real – not imagined – pressure to perform right now. And though we have counseled a methodical approach to ramping up the sales engine, many sellers are still revving the engine above the redline – a problem, as car enthusiasts can tell you, which can be rather calamitous.

“’Do more’ isn’t a solution to productivity,” writes Matt Boyden-Zapier in Fast Company magazine. “It’s a quick path to burnout.”

Instead, counsels Boyden-Zapier, it’s time to take a counterapproach to this profit-seeking angst that we’re feeling – to actually count improvement in small tiptoes, rather than giant leaps. Progression, rather than perfection. Among our colleagues here, we have adopted such an approach, which advocates setting a goal of making just a 1 percent improvement in the near term.

For sales leaders in command of big responsibilities and even bigger pressures, 1 percent can seem like child’s play. But, in actuality, a combination of 1 percent improvements, undertaken simultaneously by everyone in the sales organization, can result in huge gains toward those pressure-cooker goals.

Let’s take a deeper look: Certainly, as a sales leader, you are constantly monitoring the activities of your sales team – looking at how they execute your sales process. Buried in that process are those diamonds in the rough – things like responding quicker to inbound leads, or adding one more follow-up question to calls with buyers, or sending a thank-you note after a virtual visit – that represent the kinds of small commitments we’re talking about.

Start to look across your process to find these types of marginal improvements in your sales activities. Make that 1 percent adjustment, and measure just that. Adjust accordingly on the fly to make sure that these tweaks are delivering the desired results.

How can such small details loom larger in aggregate? Here’s an example: According to a study by sales enablement app maker, clicking the “camera on” button at the beginning of a virtual sales call resulted in closed deals 41 percent more often than lost deals.  Would you agree that turning on your webcam is a 1 percent improvement that is fairly easy to make? Simply by overcoming your camera shyness, you can enjoy a measurable bump in your successful close ratio. Certainly, your sales process is loaded with such tiny details.

One other note – in a competitive landscape, where the top producers in your market are closely aligned, that 1 percent gains even greater weight. After all, if you really only have to be 1 percent better than your competition to win a deal, you need to bring that tiny bit of extra muscle to the table.

Think about it: If you can respond to that lead five minutes faster than your competitor; if you turn your camera and connect with your buyer virtually face-to-face; if you send that handwritten thank-you note – you’ve likely got the edge.

Remember, as I said earlier – the burden of the 1 percent commitment isn’t carried by just one individual. The real magic is when the entire organization is aligned behind individual 1 percent gains. Sure, maybe sending that email confirmation, in and of itself, does not change the world – but responding to the lead faster, asking that additional question, providing a 1 percent extra bump in customer service and responsiveness – can make a cumulative difference. One that could be the difference between making your revenue goal, or just missing it.


Michelle Richardson

Michelle Richardson is the Vice President of Sales Performance Research. In her role, she is responsible for spearheading industry research initiatives, overseeing consulting and diagnostic services, and facilitating ROI measurement processes with partnering organizations. Michelle brings over 25 years of experience in sales and sales effectiveness functions through previously held roles in curriculum design, training implementation, and product development to the Sales Performance Research Center.

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