Recreational reading around how Big Consulting pitch sales transformation recently was fairly depressing.
Yet from the debris of such flawed grandstanding, I found one crumb worthy of note.
It took a while to unearth, mind. Especially when having to wade through clogged “ideation workshop” recommendation waters.
In original context (both do-or-die and do-better projects) it was, I felt, both wholly inadequate (only 18 transformations at 13 organisations) and also worryingly misleading (‘be relentless’, ‘focus your resources’ & ‘plan and adapt’).
Still, there is something for the ambitious salesperson to take from this.
Boulders Pebbles Sand.
The probability of a third is the number of this piece. Your chance of any transformation project success, the number of tracked metrics you actively follow, the value delivered compared to value expected.
Then there are a pair of proportions to chill the selling spine. A good old Pareto, with 80pc of the value delivered by 20pc of people. And a 50/50 split. Which is where the beach metaphor comes in.
Tactics deployed to achieve the major, over-arching (“transformation office” set) initiative were separated into size bands.
A kind of Huge, Biggish & Tiny earned by separate sub-initiatives being worth certain values of the overall big ambition. At least 5pc, between 5 and ½, and below half a percent. Expressed as boulders, pebbles or sand. Not perhaps the best analogy, yet when all those grains stack up to make a golden shoreline, they seem to outperform the headline – dare I say, glamour – ideas.
The Mckinseyologists talk of ‘big slope versus long tail’. Here’s their small-is-big example;
At one mining company, for example, a mechanic came up with an idea that reduced maintenance time for each truck by more than 30 minutes. Once applied to the regular monthly service schedule across the entire fleet, this idea added several thousand truck working hours per year and was worth millions of dollars.
The sparks here flow in two directions. Firstly, to what extent is your own sales process possibly hamstrung by the genius of a sole apex sellator?
The airtime given over to ‘boulders’ can be “risky”. So then there’s the chance to go under the radar with prospects. The “users” are on oft-overlooked breed inside a complex bid. Go for the MAN, and all that bravado. Whilst to be hemmed in at such remoteness from the purse strings can be problematic, there may well be that killer, small, idea desperate to pupate and emerge with wings.
A winning idea with which your solution can uniquely align and unleash. And all you may need to do is ask.