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FROM BULLETPROOF SELLING:

From Chapter 18: Systemizing Success with Lessons Learned
This is the format of a Lesson Learned, and the same column headers can be found on our online database, as well as that of our clients’:
Situation:
What did we learn?
Who’s responsible for the update?
When will the update be made?
What’s the change we’re making?
 Column 1: Situation
The situation section comes first because it is often all the information a salesperson knows when they’re entering information. This is the ‘from the front line’ report they’ve gathered from sales meetings, initial conversations with prospects, or even administrative issues. If you set a minimum number of lessons for each of your salespeople to bring to sales huddle meetings each week, the ‘situation’ could be as simple as a software problem they struggled to resolve or something that happened with a particular account. Whatever the situation is, this section needs to be clear enough so that if another salesperson or sales manager has nothing to go off of except what’s entered in that one field, they’ll have a clear idea of what happened, who it happened to, what account it affected, and when the event occurred and was entered.
The biggest challenge with capturing a complete situation for the first entry in a new Lesson Learned is that salespeople and sales managers usually don’t enter enough data. With incomplete data, incomplete improvements inevitably result. Here are the basic areas we suggest clients enter in the ‘situation’ field to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the lesson, and anyone revisiting the lesson can understand it:
1.     Date of entry
2.     Prospect account name (if a prospect account was involved)
3.     Salesperson involved
4.     Date of the situation
5.     What happened
As an example, Jim Cooper, one of your salespeople, brings forward an item captured on his sales meeting debrief checklist that states he didn’t ask a prospect about other divisions in their company that could also purchase your product or service. Out of that would come the following entry in the ‘Situation’ field of your Lessons Learned capture:
Entry: 9/24/2021. Widget Manufacturer’s Account, Bob Smith, CEO. Salesperson: Jim Cooper. On 9/20/2021, Jim conducted a sales call via phone, qualified Bob as a buyer, and issued a proposal for one of their divisions. Jim realized after the call that he forgot to ask about any other divisions in Bob’s company that could use our service so only priced the proposal for one division. Bob’s company definitely meets the size and revenue requirements for follow-on business.
A general rule of thumb in determining how much detail to include in this field is: “If all I had to go off of was what appeared in the ‘situation’ section, do I have enough information to present a solution that could close the loop on this problem for all my salespeople?”
Column 2: What did we learn?
Basically, this column’s entry is the answer to the question:
“If we had to do it over again, what would we do differently with this and all future accounts we encounter this problem in?”
In the case of our example scenario, the entry in this column may look like:
When speaking with a decision maker who manages multiple divisions, we need to ask about additional opportunities before we end a sales meeting or issue a proposal.
Column 3: Who’s responsible for making the change?
One of the most important aspects to Lessons Learned entries is they are all assigned a ‘Single Point of Accountability’ or SPA. Some organizations capture their problems but fewer than 1% go so far as to assign accountability for each problem to single individuals.
In the case of our scenario, this column’s entry could be as simple as:
Sally Ross, Training Manager
But why a ‘single point of accountability,’ when Sally may have a dozen people across other departments that are responsible for implementing this change for her salespeople?
Sales managers and business leaders don’t have time to track down a dozen different people to follow up with. That’s why it’s imperative that no more than one name appears as the single point of accountability on each Lessons Learned entry. A lot is riding on the name entered in this cell, as they’re the person responsible for ensuring whatever change that leadership or the sales team decides upon becomes a change that eliminates or mitigates that problem in the future. The benefit to a sales manager, of course, is that they only have to query one individual if they need to check on any aspect of the change this lesson creates.
Column 4: When will the update be made?
If we only take a lesson as far as stating a problem, its details, what we learned, and who’s responsible for changing something, we’ll have done more than most sales teams – and even most organizations – but I can guarantee whatever action is decided will have a small chance of going into effect without a deadline. While this entry is as simple as a calendar date, it also provides a timeline for whichever SPA owns the lesson to create change.
In the hundreds of times I saw this system used to save lives on battlefields, simply capturing a lesson only benefitted the team involved. If we are creating a Bulletproof sales organization, then we want to ensure that whatever team A learns can also benefit the sales systems of teams B, C, and D. That doesn’t happen without a timeline. We’ll go over exactly how to take what’s on a Lessons Learned sheet and make changes to the Bulletproof sales systems it applies to. If we apply a timeline to our sample scenario, this column’s entry may look like:
October 1, 2021
Ensure a specific date is in this column. Not ‘Q4’ or ‘October.’ Why? People’s minds, and especially salespeople’s minds, tend to deal with issues as they become urgent and important. If we have a deadline of ‘Q4’ for something that isn’t setting our hair on fire, then the likelihood of that task being completed before December 31 is slim. Salespeople’s hair will always be on fire about something, usually because they’re the ones holding the matchbook!
For this reason, list a specific date. If an SPA discovers an update will take longer than the original deadline, the date can always be pushed forward on that entry in the Lessons Learned database.
This leads us to the final column in each Lesson Learned Entry:
Column 5: What’s the change we’re making?
This is where we ask: “What do we do about it?”
Many sales teams fall flat in creating lasting change at this point. The challenge is not that change doesn’t occur, it’s that the change is temporary or only stays with the team that discovered it! This is the definition of using hope as a sales strategy, and after all you’ve learned thus far, hope shouldn’t be your first option.
In the case of our scenario with Jim who forgot to ask about other divisions that might need your product or service, this final cell’s Lessons Learned entry might look like:
Update the sales script to include questions about other opportunities within the organization for our product or service. Update the sales call debrief checklist to include an item about ‘Did we ask about other divisions or areas in this company that could also use our product or service?’
If we express the flow of this particular lesson as it appears on one row in your Lessons Learned database, this chain would unfold:
Ø  Situation:
9/24/2021. Widget Manufacturer’s Account, Bob Smith, CEO. Salesperson: Jim Cooper, territory 3 salesperson.
On 9/20/2021, Jim conducted a sales call via phone, qualified Bob as a buyer, and issued a proposal for one of their divisions. Realized after the call that he forgot to ask about any other divisions in Bob’s company that could use our service so was only able to price the proposal for one division. Bob’s company definitely meets the size and revenue requirements that would mean they have need for us outside of just the one division.
Ø  What did we learn?
When speaking with a decision maker who sits over multiple divisions, we need to ask about additional opportunity before we end a sales meeting or issue a proposal.
Ø  Who’s responsible for making the change?
Sally Ross, Training Manager
Ø  When will the update be made?
October 1, 2021
Ø  What’s the change we’re making?
Update the sales script to include questions about other opportunities within the organization for our product or service. Update the sales call debrief checklist to include an item about ‘Did we ask about other divisions or areas in this company that could also use our product or service?’
Now we can see that a single lost opportunity by one of our salespeople generated the lesson that we should be inquiring about additional opportunities in discovery questions across accounts and in all sales meetings. Sally Ross, who oversees training for the sales team will update sales scripts and debrief checklists and is responsible for completing the update by October 1, 2021.
If this was your team running this Lesson Learned, understand what just happened:
·       One of your salespeople admitted to not doing as well as they could have and was willing to bring it to the group because they’re required to bring a certain number of lessons each week to the sales huddle and because you have a continuous improvement culture where lessons are welcome.
·       Your sales team brainstormed ways to ensure that everyone inquired about additional opportunities across accounts during sales calls, incorporating input from senior and junior team members on the best ways to do it.
·       A single person has accountability for updating a system by a specific date.
·       A change was proposed that will update across every salesperson’s discovery questions and sales meeting debrief checklists to ensure they don’t miss inquiring about additional opportunities across every account.
If your salespeople use the updated system, which has more to do with their ability to use the systems you’ve established than hoping they’ll remember something said at a meeting, what amount of revenue could they recapture? Imagine what it would mean to you as a sales manager to know that each of your salespeople was ensuring they asked about additional opportunities within each of their accounts?
Now imagine walking through at least 5 of these types of updates each week with your team that solved recurring issues that may have existed for decades?
As we’ve expressed in the performance improvement graph, the accumulated performance gain from Lessons Learned is staggering over the course of a year. Keep it going longer than that, and your sales team won’t have competition in their market.

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