When Is It Time to Fine-Tune the Familiar and When Is It Time to Redefine the Process?


High Point University - a Startling Example

One of the most difficult decisions for Chief Sales Officers or CEOs is determining when to fine tune the familiar and when to redefinethe process.


Fine tuning the familiar is improving an existing process, making it better or faster or reducing the cost. Redefining is like beginning with a blank piece of paper and starting anew. An example of sales fine tuning is upgrading a CRM program while redefining is introducing a CRM program to a sales team that has not been using one. So for the sales team that is currently using paper calendars, going to a CRM would be a form of redefining the process. For a sales team that is using a CRM, going to a more sophisticated version would be fine tuning.

Recently a CEO wanted to determine if he should fine-tune or redefine his sales process.  

The client was in the process of renovating the family farmhouse. He had decided to completely gut the second floor which included two bedrooms and a bath, so we used that as an example of redefining.

Another coat of paint or wallpaper was not going to suffice for him. New faucets were not going to bring the bath up to his standards. So wallboard, plumbing and electrical work needed to be redone. To people passing by there would not seem to be much change. But inside, life would be better, more efficient and more comfortable.

In business, we want to maintain our reputation so we may not want to redefine our market position, logo or any other "exterior" element. We want to keep our locations: our physical location may be convenient for our customers just as our electronic locations such as our web site, email addresses, telephone numbers, etc. So decide if you want "interior" or "exterior" changes and upgrades - or both.

Plumbing represents cash flow. Money comes in and money goes out. It is the responsibility of sales to increase the amount coming in and everyone's responsibility to use it wisely.

Electrical represents leadership. It is constant, ongoing and it provides the source of power for the organization. When the power - or leadership - is strong and flowing, there is not much that cannot be done.



Practical Application


Is it time for you to fine tune your sales efforts or redefine the sales model? Some considerations:


  • How long has it been since you revisited your sales model?
    • How your salespeople's responsibilities are assigned
    • How  your salespeople are compensated
  • What changes have there been in the market that may impact your sales model?
  • What changes have there been in the industry that may impact your sales model?
  • What changes have your competitors introduced that you need to embrace or do better?


A Startling Example

(See what you can learn from this)

The most common reasons for being unable to redefine the process are:

  • We are too old, change is too difficult
  • Our people will never adapt
  • We are subject to regulations that prevent us from reinventing
  • Our customers would not like it


One example that addressed all four of the major objections is High Point University. As an eighty-nine-year-old institution with established faculty members and curriculum, the school must adhere to certain standards in order to maintain their accreditation. Besides, students have certain expectations about what their college experience will be.

When the leadership at HPU realized, earlier than most, that higher education was being redefined, they decided to redefine themselves. A new President was brought in, Nido Qubein, who had seemingly radical ideas. First was a major expansion of the campus, which "they could not afford". Next, a new approach to learning - not teaching, learning - which "had never been done before". HPU was one of the first schools to issue iPads to the students, provide concierge services in the residential areas, etc.

What drove this was a business approach to educationStudents became customers. The focus was shifted from giving their customers the ability to survive in the real world to giving them the ability to succeed and, eventually, become significant. A vision was established which was to prepare their customers, the students, to serve their customers (employers) - a version of Supply Chain Selling. As a result, their customers receive all of the benefits they would have from any liberal arts school but they also have practical, marketable skillswhich will benefit their customers and, get this, the ability to sell those qualitiesto a potential customer in ways that are meaningful to the "buyer".

The results speak for themselves: enrolment, endowments and awards continue to increase.

I asked them for a comment and, below, is their response without any editing from me. See how many value-added principles you can find in it.


Teach Others! 


Chuck Blakeman



Chuck Blakeman, founder of the Crankset Group - a worldwide business advisory, is the author of the #1 Rated Business Book of 2010 in the U.S., Making Money Is Killing Your Business.

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