Speed To Competence – No Faster Way To Impact Results

By | November 21, 2007

Think of a new sales appointment. How quickly will they be able to reach the minimum level of productivity and results you require to constitute their appointment a success?

Visualise a simple x/y diagram. The vertical axis represents performance the horizontal, time. Draw a notional line that sows the minimum level of performance required over their first 12 months. The line will quickly move from zero to target performance. How much time is covered to make that journey? 3/6/9 months? Longer? What will affect the line’s angle? Several factors, their experience, motivation, raw capabilities and the difficulty of the role will be the most obvious four.

What about designing their induction to shorten the speed to competence? Customers of ours that have done this have found they can increase speed to competence by over 20%. Put simply if it takes a typical person 5 months to reach on target performance, through applying Speed to Competence they get there a whole month earlier, which could represent thousands of pounds of revenue.

What are the things you can do to increase Speed to Competence? The major tool is the induction plan. The quality of induction must not be left to chance, disparate individuals, or the person’s own initiative. The minimum plan should cover 12 weeks. Week 1 should be broken down into 2 hour slots. Weeks 2-6 into half day slots, weeks 7-12 into day slots. Each slot should have an owner, and learning objectives. The learning should be validated at least weekly, to begin with more frequently is even better. By definition, at the end of induction they should be able to do the minimum requirements of the job, properly validated.

For salespeople a key milestone on the critical path of their induction plan will be when they are able to interact with customers ‘unchaperoned’. In one organisation we found a salesperson was able to visit a major customer after only 10 days on their own, engaging in a difficult negotiation, whilst in the same company, a person wasn’t able to operate a key piece of machinery for 20 days and after passing 2 written tests. The salesperson lost a potential piece of business worth six figures, citing poor product knowledge as the main reason.

Create an owner for Speed to Competence, make it a standing agenda item and measure its progress. There is untapped performance its effective implementation.

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