2021 and we are into a New Year – and what an interesting year it promises to be: exciting times and great opportunities, understanding the ramifications of Brexit, the new normal with COVID-19, furlough ending and a housing market bubbling away despite the uncertainly of job security and debt.
Many business owners spent time during December planning out what they want to achieve in 2021. As staff return to the office after the festive break, they are likely to be set with the latest directive and what effectively amounts to New Year’s resolution.
“New year, new beginnings…” “A change is as good as a rest…”. Both valid sayings; it’s time to hit the ground running and many agents just had their best year on record despite the pandemic, and still have healthy pipelines. But this is never enough – we always want more and that is the nature of the beast. Furthermore, if this industry ever makes changes it is inevitably at the beginning of the year.
Many suppliers boasted record order months as we all flocked to spend our cash and sign up to new tools to take us to the next level. This leads to new systems, structures and changes being pushed through and like young children opening Christmas presents, staff members will rip open the packaging, make a huge mess and start playing with their new toys. Business owners look on almost as proud parents watching team members play profusely with their new toys, last year’s products no longer a consideration, piled up in the corner. Tools which were the bedrock of company with hundreds of hours invested in them cast aside on a whim.
Staff members will rip open the packaging, make a huge mess and start playing with their new toys…
But how often do we find children playing with the boxes rather than the contents and how often do we find them going back to their faithful old Lego set, removing it from the charity shop pile? The new toys are discarded. Not the child’s fault but the parents – often buying the next best thing with no thought about the suitability of the toy or how it fits into the child’s daily playtime. A large investment gone to waste.
Our industry is no different. I spent December working with several clients on their plans for the new year, some of whom are particularly swayed by new shiny things, like magpies in an open-air jewellery market. Having seen the consequences of poor decisions previously made, I needed to help them decide what, and more importantly, how they are going to implement a new product for the long-term benefit of the business.
Qualifying with questions
I urged them to adopt a standard qualification procedure, for negotiators to apply to everyday decision-making processes – even with the potential new suppliers.
A negotiator will seamlessly apply the methodology of ‘MAN’ (motivation ability and need) into a conversation to qualify an applicant. A more skilled negotiator will apply the ‘WWWWHW’ principle and this was my chosen weapon but applied to a product instead.
With the products in mind I asked them to answer the following questions:
Who in the business was going to be using it?
What are they going to be doing with it?
Where are they going to be using it, in their daily working life?
When are they going to be using it?
How are they going to be using and integrating it?
Why did they need this product in addition to what they already had?
The ramifications of adding a new product causes havoc with systems and processes so I asked them to carry out an impact assessment to ensure it would not be thrown to one side like the new Christmas toys, when staff under pressure revert to old favourites. A product which should have been a massive help becomes a discarded toy because the correct time was not invested in how to utilise it. Is that the product’s fault, or yours for not spending time understanding how it would work?
Applying this methodology brought interesting results. Two of my mentees realised they did not need to invest in the product at all and they actually had the capability in-house, but were not using it. One who was initially unsure, realised he had a very valid need for it. One other realised not only did she need it, but by upgrading her initial package she was able to take out three other products and save herself time and money. All four came out with a different result when looking at things pragmatically in a structured format.
Some people say, “Don’t try and fix what’s not broken”, others “A change is always best”, “Out with the old in with the new”, “onwards and upwards”…
I prefer to coin the phrase – “Look before you leap!” It’s never taking the first step that’s the problem… it’s the landing…
Happy New Year, tread boldly, but with vison, clarity, and forethought.
You can contact Nathan at: [email protected]