A recent chat I had with a few branch managers had me reflecting on a 100-year-old quote about advertising. A pioneering merchant and advertising innovator named John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
I have always considered that quote to have a broader application than advertising. I stressed to those managers that the results you will achieve in any one day may not seem highly correlated to the amount of work you put in that day.
There are days in which you hit the branch with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. You get out there and give your best efforts.
You provide great service to existing customers and engage as many potential new ones as you can. You utilize your marketing opportunities and do everything you can to grow your business.
And even on those kinds of days, we sometimes don’t see the immediate results we feel we, well… have earned. When we do everything right, we should see positive results! Right?
Well…right. But it might not happen at the pace or predictability we’d like. I like to point out to folks that we are not dealing with inanimate objects.
We can’t say, “If I exert this much effort on Object A, I will observe X amount of movement by Object A.”
People are “independent variables” in our little sales equations. They don’t respond to the same efforts on our parts in the exact same ways or in the exact same manner.
The very same person you encounter this week is a slightly different version of himself than the one you interacted with last week.
This thing we call life tends to influence our moods and preferences and interests (at least a little) as we experience it. Some days, our best sales efforts are encountered by folks receptive to them.
Some days we aren’t as fortunate.
But our odds of finding right message/right time greatly increase when we remain dedicated to consistently getting our messages out there. Some folks need to see, hear, or experience the same messages multiple times to actually receive them.
And then they do. And then they act.
Our efforts and messages didn’t change. They did.
A slow day or week isn’t a sign that your efforts are being wasted. They’ll only be wasted if you ever choose to stop giving your best efforts.
I’ve enjoyed a coaching opportunity I’ve been given over the past few weeks more than I would have originally expected. I was guilt-ed into serving as an assistant coach for my older son’s soccer team.
I explained to the head coach that I have lots of coaching experience in the sports in which you throw, catch, shoot, or hit a ball.
I’ve no experience in the game which you primarily kick the ball. I know very little about the rules and next to nothing about the strategy.
But 18 teenagers with big disparities in athleticism and experience is a lot to ask any one coach to handle. So I’ve been out there doing my best to fake it until I have a clue.
I read up on the rules as best I could and watched a few videos on strategies. I would now describe my soccer acumen as “on the verge of almost dangerous.”
But something that I didn’t count on has made the experience more enjoyable for me and, I believe, helpful for the team. Our coach is a great guy who has coached soccer for 20 years.
He forgot more about soccer before lunch today than I know.
But he is accustomed to coaching pretty accomplished players. And when our 11 strongest players are on the field and in the right positions, his plans usually take shape.
When players of lesser experience or physical ability are in, those strategies often go from being a net positive to net negative.
Over time (in other sports) I’ve developed a decent ability to assess players’ strengths and weaknesses and put them in their best positions for success. This doesn’t mean “hiding” them.
It means simplifying the game and positioning them to make the greatest contributions they can on that given day.
My job has become listening to strategies the coach wants to execute and helping him decipher which players, in what positions, give us the best chances to accomplish them. Sure, I’m still saying things like, “I’m glad they seem to understand what you’re yelling, because I don’t.”
But he’s learning to work with my strengths and weaknesses, as well.
Whether leading sports or business teams, strategy is important. But objectively assessing our team members and putting them in their best positions to succeed (while we “coach them up”) goes a long way to making those strategies work.
Are you doing all you can to put your own team members in positions to find success today?