Updated: Jun 15, 2018
Over 2,300 years ago, Euclid wrote Elements. Today, the principles he wrote are still taught in every high school in America. You might remember them from geometry class, Euclidean geometry.
It’s amazing when you think of it. One class that hasn’t changed since 300 BC. Everything Euclid wrote is still applicable today. So, the question is, “How can a subject remain unchanged for so long?” The answer lies in his methodology and math.
Euclid approach geometry through definitions, postulates, propositions, and mathematical proofs. The important point here is he started with definitions, then built upon them.
Every process needs to start with agreed upon and understood definitions. Let’s not assume the same word means the same thing to everyone on the team. If you were to ask everyone on your sales team their definition of forecastable opportunity, you typically get a blank stare or a unique answer. The same holds true with qualified prospect. What does qualified mean?
If everyone on your team has a different definition for forecastable, what does your team’s forecast mean? If everyone has a different definition for qualified prospect, how will you know how many opportunities your sales force is truly working on?
As with every group or team, everyone needs to understand the common vernacular. Without definitions, you will always cap your efficiency due to communication errors.
The steps for improvement are easy, but the exercise is most effective when tackled as a team and given the necessary time. They are:
1. Identify the words/terms you need to define. I have given you two.
2. Determine why you will be using the term. Compiling a company forecast is one example.
3. Anticipate the outcome. What are the implications?
4. Ask, “Is the output optimal?” If not, identify deficiencies and repeat previous steps.
5. Ensure everyone understands the definitions and uses them appropriately.
For those who don’t make an effort to define their organizational terms, George Bernard Shaw said it best.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
The best sales teams I have seen, define terms and processes. They are exact and disciplined in all they do. Arbitrary leads to inconsistent results and uncertainty as to why it is occurring.
If you want to Sell More While Spending Less, define your common language.