Throughout my 20+ year career in corporate America, I have participated in many training programs: courses focused on everything from industrial engineering work methods to negotiation skills in sales. Out of all the activities and all the courses, one “treasure hunt game” stands out as my most memorable and impactful learning.
For the game, we worked in teams, and the team that reached the treasure first would win. We were presented scenarios along the path where we had to make decisions. The first scenario offered each team the opportunity to sacrifice a few additional days to talk to a “wise man” before embarking on the journey to find treasure. Our team, along with most other teams, was so eager to reach our goal, we chose to get on the path and NOT talk to the wise man. We felt it would be a “waste of time.”
We did not realize that the wise man provided the keys to reaching the treasure. Those teams that took the time up front to speak to the “wise man” reached the treasure first and won the game.
It may sound simple, but for me, it was a revelation! My team was so busy executing that we did not develop a plan or conduct any research. It caused us to be less effective and lose the game.
In the game of sales, planning and research are also vital to success. Efficient and effective salespeople plan for every account and every call. They are knowledgeable about the customer’s company, its people, and its industry.
Research and planning should be ongoing and dynamic. Continue to learn about your customers by setting up Google alerts, following companies, industry organizations, and key people on LinkedIn and/or Twitter. In today’s world, technology brings information to you, making you even more efficient!
A real life experience comes to mind when a lack of research and planning actually proved dangerous! My management team was asked to participate in a community service project tearing down a small building so it could be replaced. As soon as we pulled up to the site, everyone on our team grabbed their sledgehammers and moved to quickly start tearing down the walls. So, what happens once a wall is removed? The roof falls, right? Well, soon after everyone began tearing down walls, they realized that the roof was falling, and they ran from the building. Luckily, no one was hurt. It was a quick lesson. Some knowledge of the building’s architecture and a simple plan could have prevented a possible disaster!
So, take some time and reflect… when has a lack of knowledge or planning impacted your success? How can you improve your efforts to research and plan to be more successful in the future?