Tweaking or Retooling Your Business
March 31, 2021
Pat’s Inside Sales Agent, Eric, was setting roughly 17 appointments per week in his small town. Business was good and Eric was a diligent and steady producer. Within a matter of weeks, Eric’s appointment production dropped dramatically. If he was lucky, he was setting 2-3 appointments per week and Pat, the primary team leader, grew concerned, perhaps even panicked a bit.
Pat, desperate to fix the problem, was about to make some extreme moves that could have likely led to some extreme mistakes or over correction.
“I don’t think it’s time to retool your entire business, Pat. Let’s dig in a see what is going on first,” I encouraged him. He calmed down and agreed.
First, we determined if Eric was using a script or system to set his appointments. He was not wingin’ it. Pat affirmed that Eric was using a script and the process they created was responsible for their stellar results up to now. Pat knows that the key to his success is dependent on the quality of his systems and works diligently to create a strong system driven business and culture.
Second, Pat confirmed with Eric that he was still following the system. People often tend to deviate or stray from preestablished systems and so verifying that a team member is still using the company approved and designed systems is a matter of course and necessity from time to time. Pat simply asked Eric, in a very collaborative and fact-finding manner, if he had made any adjustments to the script or process independently. Eric confirmed that he was still following the original procedure and he was equally frustrated that his results had declined so quickly.
Once we verified that a system was in place and Eric was following it, we were able to determine that the system, for some reason or another, was broken.
Third, I asked Pat to meet with Eric and, with the system in hand, establish where Eric was losing the prospect compared to his previous experience. Eric was able to share that the prospects had a heightened sense of reluctance to setting an appointment when asked but were vague about their reasons why they were holding off on meeting one of their team members.
“What is going on in your market right now?” I asked Pat. It did not sound like it was an internal problem but rather something was going on that changed consumer behavior.
Pat explained that oil prices had dropped to a critically low level in their region and much of the local economy was dependent on the oil industry. People were losing their jobs and genuinely concerned about their livelihoods and finances.
I proposed to Pat that making a relevant, empathetic connection to people is the key to building rapport and it sounded like Eric wasn’t effectively relating to the people he was talking to. I said, “I think Eric could make one minor tweak to his script and it might change everything.”
When Eric ran in to resistance with a prospect, he was prompted to do a couple things.
First, lower his tone and voice and say, “Can I ask you a question off the record?”
People will always say “Yes.”
Eric would then say, “What is going on? Do you have some concerns about the housing market?”
Invariably the flood gates of information would open up. People would share their fears about the state of the market, jobs, and economic situations and wanted to know their options.
Once Eric listened, he would affirm that his company has been talking with a lot of locals about the situation. He also shared that selling their home might not be the best option, but their team members can help them see what their options are under their current circumstance. At that point, the prospects were open to setting an appointment and Eric’s appointment volume went up immediately to his original volume.
The lesson here is that when something breaks or stops working, a systematic approach to solving the problem is an optimal approach using these steps:
- Assure a documented system is in place.
- Make sure it is being followed.
- Work through the steps line by line to look for opportunities to improve this system.
- Make your changes, retrain and track your results.
Sometimes retooling your business is necessary but making minor tweaks might be all that is needed to make dramatic changes and improvements to your business.