What makes us successful as salespeople?
Is it simply the attainment of sales budgets and targets?
Or are there other elements which are critical to our long term success?
Dr Roger Kaufman is considered to be one of the most influential figures in current educational practice and design, and has been a leader in the area of performance improvement for over 40 years. One of his key contributions to the field of performance improvement has been the concept of “Mega Planning”.
As salespeople we have a responsibility not only to “make the sale”, but to ensure that our sales work contributes to the overall health and well-being of our wider community (which now, of course extends globally and beyond). Kaufman’s Mega Planning Model is a simple tool which any sales person or sales leader can use to ensure that their actions are measurable at all levels of interaction. This article will outline some key elements of Kaufman’s Mega Planning model – and then apply the model specifically to the world of selling*.
But first here’s a quick quiz to see if Mega Planning is for you:
- Do you care about your success? (If no – sorry, but we can’t do anything for you.)
- Do you care about societal well-being and adding value to the world? (And if you don’t – who will?)
- Do you care about your organisation’s success? (If you don’t – please rethink the importance of your partnership with your organisation. You can do better if you work together.)
- Do you care about the usefulness of what your organisation delivers to its outside clients and society? (This is the key to success for your organisation – and consequently, for you.)
- Do you care about the quality of what you deliver to clients? (Again, the success of yourself and your organisation depends on this.)
- Do you care about the quality of that which gets produced by your organisation? (You should.)
- Do you care about operational efficiency and compliance? (This is important, too.)
- Do you care about the availability and quality of resources? (You need them to succeed.)
- Do you care whether your organisation meets its objectives? (If you don’t –then this process is not for you.)
- Are you concerned with the value or worth of what you did and how you did it? (Again, if you don’t, this process is not for you.)
If you answered yes to questions 2 to 10 – a mega planning approach is for you.
If you didn’t – no problem – please read the rest of this article, and consider the value of moving beyond being task focussed, to embrace a holistic view of your impact in and on the world.
Kaufman provides a framework to help achieve success in strategic thinking and planning. Before reviewing this, and highlighting the importance of this framework for success in selling and sales management, here are three elements which need to be in place for such an approach to succeed:
- A societal value-added frame of mind. This assumes that organisations should be a means to societal ends.
- A shared determination and agreement on where the organisation is heading – and why. All those involved need to be in harmony regarding both purpose and the assessment of performance.
- The use and consistent application of appropriate tools, resources and processes. If we want to achieve successful outcomes we need to constantly and religiously review and assess the value and effectiveness of the tools at our disposal.
So – if you want to succeed – within a framework which embraces and assumes a greater societal good, what should you do?
There are 3 guides or templates which will Kaufman suggests can help you as you look to define, and then seek to achieve, organisational (and sales) success.
Guide One – define and align everything an organisation uses, does, produces, and delivers. And then do the same to the resulting measurable value which has been added.
This needs to be done over five levels – ranging from basic organisational inputs to societal outcomes. Following is a brief description of each level:
Name of organisational element & planning level & its description
1. Outcomes – the Mega level.
These are the results of an organisations activity and the consequences for external clients and society (eg, reduce environmental impact)
2. Outputs – the Macro level.
The results an organisation can or does deliver outside of itself (eg, increase in market share – sales volume targets)
3. Products – the Micro level.
The building block results produced within an organisation (this requires organisation members having the competencies required to meet performance requirements)
4. Processes – the process level.
The internal methods, means, activities & processes used to achieve products
5. Inputs – the input level.
The human, physical and financial resources available to an organisation (the budgets, buildings, equipment, staff, etc)
Thinking about these 5 levels, there are some questions which need to be answered at individual and organisational partner levels to check for alignment. These are:
- Do you commit to deliver organisational results that add value to all external clients and society? (Mega/Outcome)
- Do you commit to deliver organisational results that have the measurable quality and acceptance required by your external clients? (Macro/Outputs)
- Do you commit to produce internal results that have the measurable quality required by your internal partners? (Micro/Products)
- Do you commit to having efficient internal processes?
- Do you commit to acquire quality human capital, information capital, and physical resources? (inputs)
- Do you commit to evaluate the following: How well you deliver products, activities, methods and procedures that have positive value and worth; AND, whether the results defined by your objectives are achieved in measurable terms. IE – how well do you do what you do – and what are you doing to ensure continuous performance improvement?
Guide Two – Ensure you have a process to define, justify and resolve problems.
Kaufman offers this simple six step problem solving process:
- Identify problem based on needs
- Determine detailed solution requirements and identifying (but not yet selecting) alternatives
- Select solution(s) from alternatives
- Determine effectiveness and efficiency
- Revise all steps as required
This process works for identifying opportunities, as well as addressing problems.
Guide Three – apply the framework of six critical success factors for strategic thinking and planning. Kaufman suggests that the following framework of success factors is essential to successfully apply a Mega approach to personal and organisational operation.
Critical Success Factor 1
Use new and wider boundaries for thinking, planning, doing, evaluating and continuous improvement. Move from comfort zones. Look around. Challenge accepted practice. Understand that what happens tomorrow is a not a linear projection from today. Today’s success is not a predictor of success tomorrow.
Critical Success Factor 2
Differentiate between ends and means. People – especially salespeople – are action oriented. It is common for us to jump into action – talking solutions and tactics – without thinking clearly about our objectives and the ends we’re looking to achieve. We need to focus on measurable outcomes (beyond budgets!) to achieve long term success – at all levels. This means having clear goals and then being flexible in our means to achieve these goals.
Critical Success Factor 3
Use, link and align all three levels of planning and results. As outlined above – ensure that you incorporate the following three levels of thinking in your approach:
- Mega planning. This is strategic and relates to outcomes for your external clients and society
- Macro planning. This is tactical and relates to the outputs of your organisation and the wider sales activity of your organisation
- Micro planning. This is your operational effort. What you do to achieve the macro and mega goals of both yourself and your organisation
And – these levels are all linked. Try as you may, actions at one level impact results at another – so keep all in mind as you work to achieve your goals.
Critical Success Factor 4
Prepare objectives, including those for the ideal vision and mission, to contain precise indicators of where you are headed and how you will know when you’ve arrived.
Objectives are vital to success – and, increasingly, organisations throughout the world are focussing on Mega-level results.
Critical Success Factor 5
Define “need” as a gap between current and desired results and not as insufficient levels of resources, means or methods. Use “need” as a noun. In doing this we distinguish between ends and means. Rather than needing to “do” something or having a need “for” something, using need as a gap in results allows us to focus on useful objectives and measure and justify the costs of filling gaps (including the cost of NOT filling gaps).
Critical Success Factor 6
Use an ideal vision as the underlying basis for all planning and continuous improvement.
An “ideal vision” identifies the type of world we want to create for tomorrow’s children. With this in mind, every organisation can identify which part of this vision they can commit to deliver, and move closer to achieving. This view then cascades down into how we produce and deliver our products and services – and how we source our inputs.
We may need to change our habits, our paradigms and our thinking to achieve alignment across the levels of planning. But we can do this if we’re prepared to step beyond our current comfortable behaviours, and try something new.
So – to sum up in Roger’s words:
“Mega-thinking and planning is about defining shared success, achieving it, and being able to prove it. It is not a focus on one’s organisation alone, but a focus on society now and in the future. It is about adding value to all stakeholders. It is responsible, responsive and ethical to add value to all.”
There you have it – a way to define and achieve measurable success in your sales efforts. Firstly, define what success looks like for you from a societal perspective, then ensure that it aligns with success for your organisation – and then put in place the steps necessary to achieve the goals required to give yourself the best chance to succeed (there are still no guarantees, I’m afraid). And keep reviewing how you go about doing what you do.
For this to work, you may need to change. You may need to change your attitudes and behaviours. You may need to change your approach. You may even need to change your organisation or the industry you work in or the role you have.
But – it’s your success that’s at stake. No one’s going to do it for you.
So, it’s simple – apply a mega thinking approach to your personal career, your sales activity and your organisational involvement – and you will achieve greater levels of personal success.
Simple – but not easy.
I wish you success in your journey, and will continue to bring you ideas, trends, innovation, research and best practice in the world of sales and sales management to help you on your journey.
Find out more about Roger Kaufman and his work on Mega Planning here:
Check out Roger’s biography at Wikipedia:
And if you’re interested in improving your performance – at an individual, team or organisational level, check out some of the tools and resources from The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI):
*You’ll find the full details of the ideas summarised above in an article by Roger Kaufman in the third edition of the “Handbook of Human Performance Technology”, available from the ISPI bookshop at the ISPI website (pp 138-154).
Thanks for reading this post – Paul Sparks, Sales Effectiveness Australasia.
“Taking you beyond sales training and keeping you informed about the latest ideas, trends, innovation, research & best practice in professional selling and sales management”
If you would like to connect with Paul Sparks please email paulsparks [at] saleseffectiveness.com.au