How to manage the unknown?

I know and you are tired of knowing too. Without good planning and a good sense of the direction we are going, it is impossible to achieve good goals.

This is the mantra in business schools, sales courses and management programs. But let’s go back to reality, far from the world of ideas, we know that this is not always true.

Perhaps one of the most common frustrations of every manager is to establish a plan in line with the company’s strategy, but when it comes to execution, this plan presents ambiguous paths, new opportunities and situations that could not be predicted.

However good the planning is, the most common is that shortly after everything is defined, the manager is already sailing again through waters he does not know. But this happens for a simple reason, we do not know what we do not know.

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And even worse, the less we know, the more confidence we have in our knowledge, which can lead naive predictions to extreme chaos.

But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world, there are some important attitudes that can help you get through these dark periods.

When everything goes off track, use your tools

Some principles are established as a direction for a company from the beginning. These principles are like compasses that, as much as you can’t see a road, you know where your north is.

As much as in many companies Vision, Mission and Values ​​are only virtual, written on a paper that will never be consulted again, these three tools are important for the moment when everything seems confused.

If you don’t know the outcome of the scenario very well, look back at the points that define the direction of your company, making decisions based on the original principles that founded your business.

Create shorter schedules

It is difficult to see 100 km ahead, but we can see 2, 5 or sometimes 10 km much more easily.

In practice, planning for a year can make important changes unfeasible, but quarterly or even half-yearly planning brings greater flexibility to circumvent unforeseen events and adjust to scenarios that did not make sense months before.

Change the focus of your goals

I have ever been there. The manager entered the room, opened some spreadsheets and highlighted a number on the screen.

“This is our goal for this year”

But everything was even more confusing when the first person raised his hand and asked: ” but how do we have a goal for next year, if we don’t know last year’s data? “

This may seem like a distant reality, but it is common for new teams and operations that are starting to try to set goals based on estimated numbers, sort of in the idea of, “it may not get here, but we will at least try” .

But there is another strategy that can be done when these data are still unclear.

You can’t exactly know the outcome of the future, or how it was in the past, but you know what you can do to boost results, even though the outcome is still unknown.

You have two positions that you can focus on, one is in the result: we will sell R $ 100,000 this year , the other is in the actions that generate results: we will make 35 calls a day.

When there is no structure that allows long planning, it is best to leave these result metrics open, being adjusted quarterly according to the reality that unfolds, focusing more on the actions that can produce these results.

For the sales manager, the important thing is to ensure that the activities that bring the greatest results are being observed, adjusted and improved, instead of stressing with numbers that are a consequence of these actions.

There is a text I made about important metrics , which is worth reading to complement this information.

Determine a short period and start measuring all actions and results, then adjust your activities and compare the result. In an environment of uncertainty, these comparisons can be of short cycles, of a month, for example.

In the first month, 20 calls were made per day, per salesperson.
In the second month there were 25 per day, per salesperson.

The number of sales doubled from the first to the second month, so a good metric for trying to increase results is the number of calls. After three months of trying, you can now design goals for the next 3 months.

There are numerous other metrics that can help establish improvements in the short term, before understanding, in the long term, how the results will be.

Understand the present to define the future

The greatest difficulty in understanding what will happen in the future is not knowing the current reality of the business.

You don’t know how much time a salesperson spends on the phone, how many emails he needs to send before receiving a response, who produces and how he produces, what are the specific difficulties of each salesperson and what can be worked on.

Without this knowledge it is practically impossible to look to the future and say, with confidence, that you will achieve a metric.

In the sales universe there is only one smart way to acquire this information and work on it to amplify your results. A CRM tool is, without question, the only way to do this type of work.

No other tool model or sales strategy allows you to understand your reality in order to actually be able to modify actions and achieve solid results in the future.

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