The concept of marginal gains has been at the heart of numerous sporting successes. Most covered is British Cycling, albeit a contentious subject currently. This interview with Sir Dave was conducted in 2015 and highlights the importance of gaining that extra 1% in both the sporting and business world.
It occurred to me when reading this article that when deals reach a critical decision point it is natural to become isolated in an organisation as pressure mounts, nervous and often fearing you could somehow lose the deal with the most minor contact. In reality it is actually just the smallest margins required to get the close at this stage. Very similar to an Olympic final.
As Sir Dave mentions the entire business needs to be together to ensure success however there a few very marginal steps that can help with that final 1% to close a deal...
- Staying forefront of mind in a natural and unforced manner.
- Have you and the relevant colleagues in your company connected online via LinkedIn, Twitter or newsletter?
- In advance of this stage have you made the client aware of the depth of your team that could be used to answer a question or verify detail? (technical, client experience, senior management, legal, finance etc.)
- Is your internal team aware of the deal, perhaps they have a mutual contact or significant insight into the business vertical.
- Are you keeping to your consistent online communication through updates on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, XING or a newsletter? It is a non intrusive way of staying forefront of mine.
- Has there been a timeline set out for deploying or training once the deal is agreed?
- Is your CRM kept up to date in the event a colleague elsewhere in the organisation opens a discussion with the same organisation?
- If it is a seasonal holiday, don't forget! (Maybe send a Christmas Card).
These are just a few ideas, the main takeaway is through these minor actions you can ensure that you are forefront of mind with the client and continuously adding value throughout the process.
HBR: You’ve spoken elsewhere about how the success of marginal gains can be attributed to culture as much as anything else. Perhaps the most powerful benefit is that it creates a contagious enthusiasm. Everyone starts looking for ways to improve. There’s something inherently rewarding about identifying marginal gains — the bonhomie is similar to a scavenger hunt. People want to identify opportunities and share them with the group. Our team became a very positive place to be. One caveat is that the whole marginal gains approach doesn’t work if only half the team buy in. In that case, the search for small improvements will cause resentment. If everyone is committed, in my experience it removes the fear of being singled out — there’s mutual accountability, which is the basis of great teamwork.