Thinking Report

Being five hours behind in New York, I caught an item on BBC Radio 5 I would never normally catch. Su Chang eloquently dissected how Beijing Uni is sending students for internet cessation classes.

By pure fluke, the package on Radio 4 at the same time was discussing how ‘addiction’ can often be better re-labeled ‘compulsion’.

Su railed against the authorities having to send five learners to these correctional classes, regardless of how many may or may not require them. And went into detail about centrally mandated expectations.

One fascinating area she uncovered was the thinking report.

In the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, she herself suffered the glare of the authorities. Every day she had to write her own thinking report, showing how she had thought hard about what she did and demonstrated how she now realised she’d been in the wrong to support democracy protests.

She said that even now, all communist party officials had to submit their own thinking reports. Each week. Showing how they were on-message. What would Orwell make of that?

There’s an equivalent in Sales isn’t there?

Now, I’m not likening the ideal selling environment to a police state where freedom of expression and self-determination are outlawed (although you might know one or two where that is the case!), yet we demand periodic reports too.

The forecast.

Normally, we print off the standard columns from whatever crm or spreadsheet we must use. Deal size, close date, prospect name. Maybe some form of guesswork, like a probability of winning. That’s about it.

Yet how does this help us in either knowing how each salesperson is really working, or where to apply coaching in any key areas required?

Most forecast routines can be easily amended here. Highlight the elements of the process – and I don’t mean the chronological funnel stuff but the boxes you tick off on every won deal – pull out activity on key (new) products and bring in measures on how the hopper is being readied to fill the pipeline.

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