Thank you for reading “Build it Better.” This month I explore a core concept of building a better rep firm: Continuous Improvement. This iterative process starts with the belief and mindset that change must take place every day and then I explore a few practical approaches that lead to success. Let’s go!
What’s critical about “Build it Better” is that the concept is driving us towards improvement every day. Improvement is rarely something that’s done in leaps and bounds or fits and starts. Improvement must be a continuous, everyday process. It’s something that you have your eye on every day.
In sales, it’s making one more phone call before you call your day over or making one extra entry into the CRM.
Better is picking up that piece of trash in the parking lot. It doesn’t matter that it’s not yours.
Today’s the day to clean the inbox, guys, it’s waited long enough! Just drop that inbox count by one. That’s better!
It’s one more rep. Just run one house further than yesterday. Just add the smallest of plates to that lift today. Nudge your form a centimeter in the direction you know it needs to go.
Soon enough those tiny improvements will turn into big things. Along the way you’ve moved far beyond the small actions that got you started.
Now your territory is the top territory and you had to spin up a CRM to get there, but it started with “one more call”.
Now your entire team keeps the office spotless, but it started with the new inside sales rep seeing you pick up a food wrapper in the parking lot.
Now automations take care of most of your inbox and you’re left with the important stuff, but at first you just reduced that inbox count by one.
Now you run triathlons and pound out body weight back squats, but it started with one more house and one more rep.
Any of those outcomes, becoming the top territory, fostering a positive company culture, keeping a current inbox or hitting your fitness goals are insurmountable when you’re just looking for moonshots. I get it, the moonshot is sexy and dramatic. It’s what headlines are made of. What’s lost is that iterative process and the truth that through doing the small things every day, you’ll find your moon shots.
Most of my big changes didn’t come because I looked up one day and said “I’m going to change all the things today.” They happened because I started with something small and insignificant and built into something big and impactful.
This is a big idea, change a little every day and that will build into something bigger. But starting is hard. Until incremental change is a habit it feels like a big chore to get started. Here are a few common ways that I keep change moving forward:
- Have a list and add to it. You may not have the energy now to re-register your domain names into one tidy spot, but tomorrow when your 2pm gets rescheduled, you’re more likely to focus your energies on the “important but not-urgent” if you’ve written it down somewhere. I would love to say that I have one tidy list on a fancy app somewhere, but I’m not that good. Maybe that’s the source of a future project! In reality my next actions are spread throughout five key places: 1 - My brain, which is admittedly not the best organizer. 2 - Trello, a fantastic project management application. Trello is reserved for the big stuff. 3 - Paper, my notebook is entirely for action items. 4 - My email inbox: This actually works very well. I keep my inbox clean of emails that are not actionable. 5 - My paper inbox on my desk.
- Realize that even the biggest projects can be broken down into that very next action that needs to be taken. That one-at-a-time approach can be very effective. If you’re planning on getting a new CRM, then the time between Step 1 - Document your requirements and Step 2 - Research matching CRMs can be weeks apart but you’ve done a ton of work to move the project ahead. Sometimes these can be very simple, low time, low energy types of steps (Something like resetting your password on a locked out site). That’s the point. When you are in the habit of knowing the next action needed on your projects and opportunities, then you can make the most of gaps throughout your day.
- Accountability partners. Share your goals with others and do this early and often. From my manufacturers to my inside sales team, people know that I’m open to ideas for improvement. I also share my big projects so the brain power behind those projects is distributed among other players. I’ve lost count of the number of times this practice has paid off; new lines, better training, you name it. Sharing your goals is critical.
Finally, beware of change for change’s sake. Sometimes something isn’t broken and that’s okay. Change does come with a cost and a business owner must weigh those costs. When you obsess over improvement and change, it can be a challenge to accept that sometimes oldies are goodies. Check yourself sometimes or surround yourself with those who will.
This is what I challenge you with: find something small, JUST ONE THING, and do it. Then repeat that the next day. Move forward inch by inch. Soon that power of willing yourself to do something, ANYTHING, to improve will become a habit and you will Build it Better.