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How to Use Microresolutions to Improve Sales Performance

How to Use Microresolutions to Improve Sales Performance

When managers roll out major changes it can be a shock to everyone who has to comply with new rules. When handled incorrectly, disruptions can cause resentment and resistance that counteract productivity, and most companies can’t afford to waste that kind of time.

While certain things can’t be helped (e.g. new company software, new compliance laws, etc.), there are reasons you might want to take a different approach if it’s necessary to change employee behavior.

Sales employees can benefit from small, well-defined resolutions as a means of strengthening performance and company revenue rather than blanket procedural changes.

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What is a microresolution?

A microresolution is an achievable behavior change that employees can use to improve their day. It needs to be a clear goal, so generic calls for improvement will not do.

For example, let’s say an employee is having trouble making a strong first impression on their prospects. Considering that sales today is largely driven by the ability to teach the client about their own business, it might be a worthwhile resolution for the employee to start working on how to impart their best suggestions and tools as quickly and naturally as possible right at the start of a conversation. Or since people have more energy and resolve in the morning, it may make sense to have your reps tackle their hardest tasks before 11 a.m.

Inspiring employees

The amazing thing about these microresolutions is that they can and do apply to everyone. No one is above making better decisions in their day, and this is an excellent way to inspire employees to feel a resolved sense of purpose when they confront their daily tasks.

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Whether a person needs help in documenting their activities or they need assistance with executing a specific sales tactic, encouraging everyone to make one small resolution can be the start of some drastic changes in the office. So let’s say that a person takes care of their most hated task at 10 a.m. in the morning, they may feel so accomplished that they start doing more in the afternoon as well which ultimately leads to better-serviced accounts. The point of this exercise is to focus an employee’s attention on something they can do rather than bemoan the fact that the company is failing to hit a certain level of achievement.

Camaraderie

Just because a microresolution is easily definable, doesn’t mean that it will be easy to adjust to. It will take some experimentation to fully adapt the change into a day, but this experimentation is excellent for generating discussion and a sense of camaraderie.

With everyone working together to fix one of their shortcomings, it can help employees feel connected to one another for better teamwork and understanding. The key here will be to have everyone on board with completing this task and depending on the type of office environment, it may make sense to track that progress in a public way. This way, people can draw strength and advice from each other rather than feel like they are the only one who is struggling.

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Changes and adjustments

Let employees know that resolutions can grow into more ambitious goals, but only after the original resolution has been thoroughly mastered. This is why it’s so important for salespeople to set realistic goals. It’s also why reps should only work on one resolution at a time.

Someone who wants to get their numbers up by 70% may be setting themselves up for failure, while a field salesman who aims for a 10% revenue increase can always adjust their target after they’ve met their goal consistently over consecutive months. While change can sometimes be slow, the sense of pride and achievement an employee feels after hitting a personal goal is meant to be a jumping-off point for continued growth within the company. If you’re a sales manager, then you may want to suggest individual goals that you feel will be best to improve your reps’ performance.

The impact on sales

The more involved an employee is in their overall progress, the better their relationships and confidence will be with clients when making sales. By allowing a salesperson to see marked success in their days in one aspect, the comfort level they feel in their job should also rise.

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Every sales team is different, but there is no one who is immune to the pleasures of doing their job more effectively. If possible, implementing this type of program in a company should apply to everyone: senior executives, managers, and everyone in between. While it may take some time, using microresolutions on a consistent basis should lead to a lasting, positive impact on sales performance.

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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