Saturday, April 1, 2017

10x Your Performance - The Gap Miners Pvt Ltd Story

In a session three weeks ago Siddharth asked me if I could tell the team at Gap Miners something motivating. He was unhappy with the slow sales. I could sense his dejection. I also felt at the same time as I always do - that real motivation comes from providing some clarity, a feeling that one can do it. So we decided to dive headlong into the problem. Maybe it was time for a 10x solution.

The 10x Way
It primarily works like this. Reorganise existing resources and aim at 10x of a key performance indicator. Without additional resources, we should be able to 10x our performances

  • Decide - to achieve the 10x goal. Take it personally. Set your own goal 10x or more. Take full ownership.
  • ·         Have clear goal - (number, position, status etc) and fix it. Keep a time frame in mind.
  • ·         Don't accept any other outcome – achieve your goal exactly as you decided, nothing less.
  • ·         Use only available resources 
  •       To find a 10x solution, bring 100% focus of your thoughts. The goal should be all consuming and the number 1 priority. 
  • Planning –  Assume the goal is achieved. Then walking backwards from the goal, check out every possibility that can obstruct the goal and make the process error-free. Plan until all possibilities have been covered (including contingencies for things beyond your control).
  •         There are no excuses, blame. You are 100% responsible.
  •         Implement – Follow your plan with great concentration and meticulous judgment, hold on to your plan through the tough phases. Execute diligently. Brick by brick
  •       Believe – Hold on to the belief that you will make it through the difficulty and trouble, and keep progressing.
  • ·         Achieve. Feel good within.
  • Reset goal and aim for next 10x. 

First Session
In that first session we looked at the problem. The team was not getting enough offers (their site is a deal site offering the best deals across 10 cities in India). The target was a hefty 160 offers a month. The actuals were 30 offers a month.
Red flag; When people see a big difference between the actuals and the targets it is bad for their self confidence. So we decided to set a target that they could achieve. The idea was to get everyone to commit a number and achieve it to improve confidence.
We asked everyone to commit their numbers for the week. Any number that they can confidently achieve. The total came to 15 offers for the week. We wrote down each one's commitment on the board.

The only condition was that the numbers were non-negotiable. All back up plans must be in place. The team had to deliver 15.

Week 1 - 10/15
To achieve target the team decided  to meet twice - once every morning before work and once after work. A 10 minute meeting to discuss status, plans and progress. A whats app group was created to update the rest of us about the progress. I sat through one meeting asking relevant questions (which offer, what backup etc). Every day after the meeting the convenor was to send a message - Meeting done. Status 5/15 or Committed 5 and Achieved 4 or something like that.

The team was asked to share inputs, ask tough questions and also encourage one another. The week ended at 10/15 which was an improvement over the past week at 8. We celebrated the effort and made a new commitment for next week.
The group energy was much higher. They liked the daily interactions and increased focus. They seemed more positive.
The next week's target was set by them at 25.

Week 2 - 21/25
This week we added a couple of improvisations. We first introduced a 'Star of the Week' concept. We also decided to celebrate each weekend. We looked at improving process - we asked the team to analyse the number of calls made by each one during the week. Calls were split into A (MoU awaited, B (proposal sent) and C (new calls). Clearly the more "A"s someone has, the more likelihood of converting them into offers. More Cs indicates low probability. They were asked to keep their list of 120 calls per week ready by Monday morning and the 20 calls a day ready every morning meet. The "A"s were highlighted. They were asked to commit a daily achievement and report status, end of day.

The whatsapp group started buzzing. It was good to see people reporting new offers.

This week ended on a high. Against the committed 25 we managed to do 21.

More importantly the graph showed a healthy trend, in one week we achieved 75% of what we had achieved last month, a 100% improvement over last week and most achieved their targets.

The team was charged enough to stay back on Saturday evening. we reviewed the numbers and clapped for the achievers - Sravani and Pavan. Venkat gave them a bonus of one leave for their performance. They were very happy.

Week 3 - 23/21
Week 3 was a challenge because we had only 4 working days with a holiday right in the middle. The team met and decided not to reduce the number they had achieved last week already. So the target was fixed at 21. Commitments were taken from all concerned. This time they were clearer and surer because they had a list of 80 calls to be made that week, the list of A.B,C and the names of possible offers.
Day 1 ended with 5/21, day 2 with 13/21, then the holiday came. The team was  confident that they would achieve 100% this time. The whatsapp group was buzzing. We now had an Enthusiasm Team in place - Akshay and Pavan. We decided to celebrate each offer.
Day 4 ended with 18/21. Day 5, the last day was a nail biting finish as we first achieved 21, then 23. We overshot our commitment, everyone had achieved their numbers, with less number of days we achieved what we did last week in 6. The group was ecstatic.

We met in the evening, Akshay was still at work finishing his quota. A round of burgers and soft drinks and we clapped for the performers. Siddharth and Sharmila starred for the week (with 4 apiece), Siddharth - star of the month (13) and Siddharth - star of the quarter (29).

A quick look at the quarter (109) - January (45), February (30) and March (64). In the past three weeks we had clocked 54 offers. There were smiles all around, a renewed confidence showed in their talk, their smiles. More importantly they were more assured and not insecure. Now they had all achieved their targets and we clapped for everyone of them.

For the coming week we decided to analyse the number of calls. We decided to identify 10 As (most had only 2-3) by Monday and develop the pipeline. The more As the better the conversion rate. By next week the team was to identify 5 As and the week after, 10As in every list. By third wek hopefully 15 "A"s.

  • Growth over last month was 113%. We have more than doubled this month.
  • The 3 week performance was highest - even higher than a whole month (January) - 54 (3 weeks)/45 (Jan), 30 (Feb)
  • We had more control over the process
  • Team bonding, confidence and communication has improved which automatically improved their commitment
  • Reward and recognition system was falling into place, we were recognising every achievement and progress
The next week is the beginning of a new month. The team has set a target of 25. We promised to get the 120 calls list ready, identify "A"s to be cultivated during the week (10 with a minimum of 5 for the next week). We will also complete calls analysis and get a better hang of it.

All salespeople were asked to think like CEOs of their space. We promised ourselves that if we touch 160 in 3 months, we will gift ourselves an outbound program.

Now to add further developments as the process unfolds. But the exercise till now has been quite encouraging and showing good results. Wait by for updates.

Week 4 ended April 8 (15/25)
As expected the team kind of took the foot off the pedal this week and I was wary of that. It happens sometimes in the confusion of achieving goals. You don't know how to deal with success. So the prescribed meetings did not take place, the tasks of identifying As did not happen and people were on leave or on work-from-home mode. As a result, the Tuesday meeting had to be cancelled due to low attendance and even the Wednesday meeting that was supposed to start at 930 started at 1030 with half the attendance. Talk of resisting your own good!

We had a meeting and I shared the 6 monthly analysis of calls and offers made by the team. Venkat and I had done this analysis on Tuesday evening. In six months it appeared that 18000 calls were made and 215 offers received - a conversion ratio of 1.18. We analysed everyone's offer/call conversion ratio and found that it varied from 0.64 to 3.38. In the last three weeks since we began the activity it was up to 1.78 as a group and individuals had doubled and tripled their averages. Clearly something was working.

This week we added this insight - by increasing the number of As in the pipeline (currently about 15 As/960 prospects to 90/960) we could increase the number of offers from the current 3-4 a week to 10-20 a week per individual.

  • To identify 10 As for the week
  • To have 5 As on their list by Saturday, 10 by next Saturday and 15 by the third week
  • By this weekend we would have close to 40-45 As across all sales people which is up from 10 As (a healthy pipeline of clients who are interested in offers and have received our MoUs so we can upload the offers on the site) 
The team was cautioned about the dangers of complacency, about the dream of winning and what was required. Firstly to follow set routines, come with 10x ideas and implement fast. We decided to achieve the target come what may. As on date, with two more days to go the team has committed 13 by end of day of the target of 25 and to do 10 As out of 45.

The actuals for the week looked like this - 15 offers, from 413 (out of a possible total of 840 calls), 13 As (at MoU level), 123 Bs (at offer level) and 704 Cs (new calls).


  • To recap - bring enthusiasm., enjoy work and achieve
  • Commit numbers, have frequent meetings and update all details every morning and evening so everyone knows what they committed 
  • Make lists of weekly 120 calls, identify potential A, B and C
  • Get 15 As, 45 Bs and 60 Cs in final distribution

Next week's target is to achieve 25 offers, get 5As by Wednesday and 10 As by Saturday. We will start analysing calls to offers, offers conversion ratios, As to conversion ratios and other key parameters.

Insight" Even in a bad week with three top performers clocking zero sales, the team achieved 15 offers. Pavan is constantly achieving and over-achieving his numbers.

Week 5 ended April 15 (15/25)
The magic number of 25 was aspired for but we fell short by 10. However as a week one week performance indicator we are still way ahead from the 9.6 offers per week performance for January and February and up at 15.


  • Calls came down drastically which indicates improved efficiency (calls:offer ratio). As against a call average of 676 calls a week over a five month period which was generating 8-10 offers per week (9.6 offers a week), we managed to reach 15 offers a week with only 378 calls last week. Conversion ratio 3.97% (up from 1.42% for six month average) 
  • Conversion rate (offers per call) per week went up from 0.98% over the last 20 weeks (5 months) to 3.62% in the past 5 weeks - an increase of 267%)) 
  • The number of As (offers at MoU stage) have increased from 13 to 23 (increase of 76%)
  • However the two week target of everyone getting 5 As by last weekend and 10 As by this weekend was not achieved. We are at 3 As per head. The team said that it was not a skill issue but a will issue. They promised to increase their effort and achieve 10 As by next week.
  • The 5 week period (week ending March 18 to week ending April 15) generated 88 offers (averaging 17.6, 88/5) as against the 5 month period which has generated 172 offers over 23 weeks (averaging 7.47 offers a week, 162/23) indicating an increase of more than double (235%)

Next week targets

  • Our monthly target of 90 for April is under threat with only 30 so far. The team however felt that they will share the burden and try and do 10 offers a piece in the next two weeks.
  • The team also decided to look at their list of expired offers and renew the good ones and close out the useless ones. This would add to the offers tally. This would also be in addition to the new offers.
  • The idea of improving As to 10 per head, or at least 5 per head was still being pursued. It is hypothesised that with about 50-70 As, our number of offers would increase drastically.

Team is gung ho though a bit nervous. Now to see what happens this coming week.  My suspicion is that if we get 50-60 As in the pipeline, then focus on renewing expired offers and not letting existing offers expire, our performance should improve.

Some Asides - Top Management's Alignment
The importance of the top management and its alignment to the cause is paramount.Too often top management is unhappy, resentful and even sees the team as an enemy. It is time to let go of those feelings and start working at it - together. It may require letting go of the past, of some ego.

One of the major keys is to keep the team excited. The best way to keep them excited is for them to see success and to recognise it. We gave them targets (set by themselves), got them to devise a system where their performances were under the scanner in a gentle, non-accusing manner and where each one pushed each one along. The results doubled.

The idea is to appreciate progress until they feel confident enough and are motivated enough by their own good work that they take more ownership and pride in their work. But its critical to nurture them until they feel confident and take pride.

One danger is if the top management gets impatient or feels that the team has not performed till now and is now taking ownership. "It's their job", "they were told and never did it till now" - could become ego issues. It's important to have everyone, especially the managers to be gentle with the process, to lead the effort towards achieving what they want the team to achieve. This would mean finding out their issues, guiding them when they are stuck, taking responsibility for their performance ("they were told but they did not do the work" - reflects on the manager) and gently nudging them to perform. Managers must find a way to make them perform.

Managers at the top must have a clear analysis of what is going on, know what they want, nudge the team in that direction, show them success and recognise it. Their job is to make the team perform - not find excuses as to why the team is not performing. Many times top managers blame one another, the team and behave as if the entire team is against them and of bad quality. We can never move forward with beliefs like that. Every person, handled in the right way will surprise us. The key is to know how.

As an aside we are having a meeting to align the top management on these principles.
1) Our job is to make the team perform
2) The team will perform well if they are high on energy and in good space.
3) We must believe that they are capable of great work and enable that.
4) People will do work when they suggest the way forward themselves - give them credit and let them take it forward
5) Appreciate progress, and do not compare current performance with your gold standard of performance (for eg. if their average is 10 and your standard is 50, and if they have done 12, please appreciate progress and don't look at the 38 that is lacking. From 12 they will be motivated to go to 14, then 16, 20, 30 etc if they are appreciated.)
6) Be easy on process (let them find a way), strict on effort and integrity
7) Facilitate performance, make it easy to perform, don't come in the way, find metrics, ways, processes, to keep them happy and excited.

Week 6 - ending April 22, 2016 (19/25)
We finished the week at 19/25 which was an improvement over the past two weeks though it fell short of the planned target. There is some irregular attendance due to leaves which is hampering the effort, and also the key people being busy with things like marriage (their own!). But over all we ended with 19 making it 49 for the month, with 20 As (as opposed to the target of 40 which is still  a far cry). This A business is mysterious and needs to be pursued with more rigor this week.

Two other ideas that we are pursuing need a push. One is the identification of 10 big accounts and their management for increasing revenue. For the first time revenue comes into the picture and will form part of the evaluation process. As a complementary plan to that we are also looking at a city based potential improvement plan which the executives are to come up with.

I am hoping to get this exercise going for another 6 weeks by which time we would have set the new processes into place and would have something substantial to show. Meanwhile we are still at 2.5 X which is not a bad place to be in after 6 weeks. The last three have been rather slow but we hope to pick up.

Targets for the coming week
1) 25 offers (or more, considering the shortfall we have had)
2) Improve As to 40 and beyond
3) Complete all pending renewals by weekend
4) Examine revenue and compare with the city-potential plan with 10 big accounts
5) Examine the feedback analysis from customers to see a pattern

The team has slacked off a bit and the pending jobs are increasing. It will require a pepping up and some close monitoring this week to get on track. In my view this will be a critical week.

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