So how can you improve your sales figures by using the principles of marginal gains?

More to the point, what has the GB Cycling coach got to do with it all?

(by the way, if you love a statistic, I think you’ll enjoy this)

This is Sir Dave Brailsford and obviously he knows how to coach a team to incredible success, but there is more to it than that.

He became head of British Cycling in 2002 and, at that time, the UK cycling team had a pretty poor record of success. At the Beijing Olympics, his team won 7 out of the 10 available gold medals in track cycling and then they went on to repeat this success at the London Olympics in 2012.

Key to this success was the theory of marginal gains. He reckoned that if he could break down all of the stages involved in competition, then improved everything by 1%, they would achieve a significant aggregated improvement in performance.

So what did they do? This is a direct quote:

“By experimenting in a wind tunnel, we searched for small improvements to aerodynamics.

By analysing the mechanics area in the team truck, we discovered that dust was accumulating on the floor, undermining bike maintenance.

So we painted the floor white, in order to spot any impurities.

We hired a surgeon to teach our athletes about proper hand-washing so as to avoid illnesses during competition (we also decided not to shake any hands during the Olympics).

We were precise about food preparation.

We brought our own mattresses and pillows so our athletes could sleep in the same posture every night.

We searched for small improvements everywhere and found countless opportunities.

Taken together, we felt they gave us a competitive advantage.”

So back to sales – how can this help you?

Well, we have never had access to more data or statistics, so what about exploring some of these straightforward metrics and seeing where you can make a difference:

* Closing rates
* Enquiries to conversation ratios
* Response times to enquiries
* Follow up rates
* Profit margin

Now that is just 5 metrics, but, applying the theory of marginal gains, if you improved each by 1%, you wouldn’t achieve 5% increase, because it is compounded. It would actually be a lot higher.

So 1% increase x 1% increase x 1% increase x 1% increase x 1% increase

(you would obviously need some real figures to illustrate this, but I challenge you to have a go! You’d probably be surprised at how much difference it could make).

Now multiply that out across a whole sales team, a region or a vertical – suddenly the numbers are impressive!

Just by a 1% increase!

I use this example in training to show sales people how small improvements can really help them.

Have you got any examples of where marginal gains have helped you?

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