When You Don’t Have a SuperStar – You need a Super Process!

A series of actions or steps taken to achieve an end.

When You Don’t Have a SuperStar – You need a Super Process.
If you are not a SuperStar – You can still follow a Super Process.
In a recent visit with a top notch sales professional, he said that his company regularly reminds people that:

“You know, sales training does not work.”

Don’t you just hate it/love it when someone speaks so bluntly – and so truthfully?

Path to success: Have a process Follow your process
Path to success:
Have a process
Follow your process

He is right, of course.  Sales training does not work.  What does work is implementing an effective process.  This is true in a number of arenas.

For example, consider this:  if you are having surgery, you would like the very best surgeon, the #1 Superstar surgeon in the country (in the world), to perform the surgery.  I hate to break it to you – that surgeon is probably not available to you.

What/who is available is likely a surgeon who may be “middle of the pack – “average” (yes, average means… average).  What you need is a way to “trust” the desired outcome of the work of this “average” surgeon.  You can have such trust when your surgeon follows a super process.  That is the entire, and actually very comforting, message in The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.  (Read my blog post on this important and terrific book here).  What Dr. Gawande teaches us is that you can get super performance from a super process followed well.  In other words, a super process kind of “makes up” for less-than-superstar skill level.  And, a checklist, carefully followed, keeps the surgical team following this exceptional process carefully – thus ensuring the efficacy of the process.

There is no substitute for a super process.

Except one.

Here’s the substitute for a good process – a genuine superstar.  You know, that person who is so far ahead of others, so much better than others, that they just ooze success out of every pore of their body.  They don’t need a process – you just set such a person free, and sales will come rolling in.

Two problems with this idea:

Problem #1 – there aren’t all that many genuine superstars.

Problem #2 – One superstar, no matter how great, still needs to work with a team…

Yes, even with a genuine Superstar, things are not that simple.  At times, a superstar just kind of hurts the team performance.   His individual production may be great…  but the team, not so great.

(In Phil Jackson’s earlier book Sacred Hoops, he has a chapter called “Coaching Michelangelo.”  Yes, it is about coaching the superstar of superstars – Michael Jordan.  To oversimplify:  The trick was to find a way to tone down his individual goals in certain aspects of his game in order to help the team be better).

And, even if you have a genuine superstar, that superstar can be even more effective when following a superior process.

Now, back to sales:  Here is a description of the sales process from the website of Acuity Solutions.  The CEO and founder is Tom Niesen, and he is the sales professional who said “you know, sales training does not work.” (emphasis added):

Many business owners and leaders believe that “training doesn’t work.”  And since many of them regard training as a single event, designed as a short-term quick fix––they are right––that training doesn’t work.

Sandler training does work, because our training is built on the concept of incremental growth and change over time—supported by repetition, reinforcement, coaching and accountability.  We know that achieving lasting behavioral change and mastering new skills does not occur at a one-day seminar, or overnight.

We also know that people are not likely to consistently implement a particular strategy or tactic, regardless of how effective it is, unless it’s part of an overall behavioral plan. And, they are not likely to implement a plan unless it is supported by the appropriate attitude and outlook. Therefore, Sandler training addresses all three areas necessary for success—attitude, behavior and technique.



“Behavior” and “Technique” especially are all about process.

I’ve read a lot of good business books over the last couple of decades.  I’ve presented synopses now of literally hundreds of business books.  I’m ready to state a “finding.”  Here it is:

Shots of motivation are great, but process trumps shots of motivation.

Develop a good process; follow it meticulously.  You know — “execute.”  This is the path to sales success; and, really, all other kinds of success.

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