Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Successful Business Is Like A Successful Athlete

“Winning athletes need to plan their training routine; train under the conditions that will be similar to the actual event; control their diet; set targets to be achieved; monitor progress and performance; constantly refine elements of their regime; and most importantly they must motivate themselves towards achieving the ultimate goal â€" Winning! So what is so different about business? A business needs…” This was the start of an article I wrote some years ago and cliché apart this analogy is still as relevant, if not more, than it was then. A business needs to ensure that everybody has been trained to carry out their duties, to know what impact they have on the total process internally and most importantly the customer; and be able to adapt to ever changing conditions by having readily available information about their company, their customers, the competition etc. As with a successful athlete there is a certain percentage of talent involved. Not just anyone can be a gold medal winning sprinter, but only in the right environment and regime will that talent flourish. The same applies to the personnel that make up a business. You hire talented and dedicated sales people and with the right training regime their talents are honed and refined. However, that is where the analogy ends, there is one caveat and it can be summed up in one word; TECHNOLOGY. Today’s businesses see technology as a huge performance enhancement to their organisations, so much so, that the technology they use is purchased with the assumption that it will solve most if not all problems. This is like the athlete expecting that by wearing the latest scientifically engineered trainers he is guaranteed to win a race. In the athlete’s world, the calibre of a training facility is there to aid the existing talent and training regimes. The mistake that most businesses make is expecting technology to exceed this mandate and deliver results that are not there. Technology in the business environment is the means to create an optimised environment so that the sales personnel can be ready at all times. In the same way a football teams play friendly matches to get match fit and test their tactics and game plans, business technology offers a sales team the chance to know their own match readiness. The mistake that today’s businesses make is that too often the glitz, glamour and the interactivity of a technology solution flatters to suggest that it will offer more than this. The bottom line is, that without the foundations of a well understood sales process that is in use by talented sales people, your new technology is not going to work, worse still if by implementing a technology your sales processes have to change to adapt to the system, then your business is almost always likely to suffer. George Petri is Managing Director of Nomis Limited which created SalesVision, one of the UK s leading IT systems providers in effective Sales Performance Management.

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