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Discipline of Process - Measures of Success


Success, progress, growth - there exist in life many measures for these fleeting terms.  For professional athletes it comes to win-loss records, for Wall Street it’s the Dow Average, for golfers winning sums up strokes below par and for distributors success equates to growth.  But growth alone does not tell the whole story.  A rising tide raises all ships and during an upswing in the economy everyone experiences growth.   To tell the whole story, we modify “pure growth” to year-over-year growth which outperforms the competition or the rest of the market.


The very successful in every line of wholesale trade do exactly that; they outperform the market.  During recessions and upswings alike they manage to find those few extra sales that other guys somehow miss.  It happened during those horrible days following 9-11.  I attended a distributor conference and during the networking meetings everyone was down in sales, but a few were down just a bit less than others.  And the phenomenon repeated itself again during the heady years of 2005-06 (only this time everybody was up).


I know there are many explanations; strong leadership, customer programs, sales process, strong negotiation skills, purchasing prowess and a few others come to mind.  But I suggest the winning edge comes through discipline of process. 


Last week I happened to attend a meeting where David Oldfather of Affiliated Distributors spoke.  Since his presentation a single thought has bounced in my mind like a ping-pong ball in rolling car.  Mr. Oldfather said, “AD distributors outperform the market in sales year-over-year by 8%.”  Using the law of doubling, in less than a decade, a distributor member of AD would have doubled in size relative to the competitors around him – regardless of how the competitors grew.  As my friend (and sometimes writing partner) Dr. Phil Hall would say, “Clearly, this needs to be explored.”


Exploring the power behind A-D’s measure of success reveals discipline of process.  Each year Affiliated Distributors holds back a percentage of the distributor’s earnings for Sales Stimulator Programs (SSP).  In a nutshell SSP based activities reward you for doing what you already know you should do.  Think of how much better shape we would all be in if we had a Rich Aunt who sent us a hundred dollar bill every time we went to the gym and gave us a quick Jackson ($20 dollar bill) whenever we passed on that chocolate cheese cake.  A-D provides this service for distributors.


Take a quick test – which of these important activities did you finish this year?

  • Identification of (3-5) existing suppliers with product growth opportunity – with a joint plan for the year
  • Key Supplier Evaluations – conducted before February 15 and attended by regional sales managers
  • Annual Plan set with Suppliers – set early - reviewed quarterly
  • Identification of Product Targets – reviewed quarterly
  • Quarterly review of customer sales promotions and activities
  • Evaluate Product Specialist needs and reset expectations
  • Organized product skill evaluations by  Salesperson – reviewed systematically
  • Quarterly review of co-op and other funds available – to insure maximized use


Now imagine what would have happened if you accomplished each of these activities and had an opportunity to discuss best practices and benchmark with other distributors who share similar views on these activities.  Each year your own process would improve.  Each (iteration) of these meetings eliminates a few moments of unproductive time and a few planned activities that somehow don’t bear fruit.


I know a few people who naturally possess discipline of process.  In truth, I believe the number mirrors the number of folks who chew each fork-full of food twenty-seven times (less than 28%) or wash their hands a full twenty seconds (less than 23%).  I readily admit to being one of the unwashed food gulpers – how about you?


So how can you add disciple to your process?

First have a process and if you can create a mechanism for yourself to provide disciple.  Many (closely held) companies create a Board of Directors expressly to provide a level of discipline to their process.  Still others have created formal networks with other business people – often other distributors from other parts of the company.


Want to crank it up a notch? 

River Heights Consulting can help you figure out which of these options is best for you.  Discuss a marketing group, Coaching, Strategic Planning, Creating a Board of Directors, and many others… 

Give us a call.


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