Acting Smart

Our junior consultant, Stefano, has during his time at A-zeta Consulting already been working with several projects that have included increasing sales and how to create measurable results. In this blog post, he is reflecting about the things he learnt from the projects so far, to act smart.

If a lion catches a hippo

If a lion catches a hippo, the lion will be fed for days, but if a lion catches a hare, it is fed for minutes. The difference between these two are the effort, and probably the time, put into the chase. Arguably, a hippo is more difficult to hunt than a hare, but a hippo will keep the lion fed significantly longer.
This pattern is widely seen not only in nature but also in the business field. In sales, if you call 10 customers with a hit rate of 10 % you would make one sale, but if you call 100 with the same hit rate, you would have made 10 sales. Of course, the latter takes more effort.

S.M.A.R.T principle

The problem is, a lion is motivated by hunger alone whereas people (thankfully) have evolved far beyond only being motivated by hunger. So how do you motivate people to call 100 or 1000 potential customers instead of 10? How do you measure the results of your superb strategy if you cannot measure the results?
Unfortunately, there is no “one-fits-all” answer and every situation and business should be analyzed as the unique case it often is. But there is some guidance. For instance, the S.M.A.R.T principle that states that every goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-able (Popularized by, among others, Doran 1981 and Blanchard 1985). Does it work? Well, according to a study made in 2011 by separating students into two groups where one group were using the S.M.A.R.T framework when tackling the exercise at hand whereas the other did not, the results indicated that the S.M.A.R.T group did not only enjoy the exercise more but also started earlier, complained less and provided a better-quality result (Lawlor & Hornyak 2012).
So, how do you make something S.M.A.R.T? Make sure that your goals and activities have a Specific purpose for the business, are the fact Measurable, can be Achieved, are Relevant for your business and are Time-phased.

S.M.A.R.T in reality

For example, to tackle the customer-contact issue earlier mentioned, make a call list for your salespeople that specifies who (Specific), how many (Measurable), how (Achievable), why (Relevant), and when (Time-able) they should call.