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Customized Training, Coaching and Consultation for High Value Employees and High Impact Issues

Learning 4 Performance

August 18, 2010

Volume III, Issue XV

Better Problem Solving: One Key

Approximate reading time: 2 minutes

In This issue:

  1. Better Problem Solving
  2. Lessons from Sales, V
  3. More FSTD Content: Blog Posts
  4. Upcoming Public Workshops

Want to be a better problem solver? This tip can give you “the edge”.

Imagine this. You come home late one night. It’s pitch dark. No moon. No stars. You walk into the kitchen and flip the switch for the ceiling light. No light! So, what do you do?

A: Go into the basement in the dark, get the ladder, stumble up the stairs, set the ladder up under the ceiling light, go up the ladder, remove the globe from the light, go down the ladder and set the globe on the sink, go back up the ladder and remove the light, go down the ladder again, get a new bulb and go up the ladder and screw it in, go down the ladder again and get the globe, go up the ladder for the forth time and replace the globe, go down the ladder and flick the switch again?

B: Go to another room and try another switch?

If you said B, you are probably, other factors being equal, solving problems more quickly and more consistently.

Let’s look at this from a problem solving point-of-view. The first thing you do is gather the FACTS about the problem, or the Deviation as we call it. In this case, the FACT is “the kitchen ceiling light is out”. Now if you stop there, you can run up and down the ladder all night swapping out bulbs and never have a clue as to what caused this Deviation. Is it a burned out bulb? Is it a bad wall switch? Is it the circuit breaker on the kitchen circuit? Is power off to my house? You will just plain not know for sure.

But as soon as you search for the closest, most similar thing to the ceiling light in the kitchen that could be out but isn’t, or as we say, “Search for a Comparator”, you get better information. Here’s how it works. You walk into the dining room and hit the wall switch, the closest most similar thing to the kitchen wall switch. Right when you flip the switch, one of two things will happen. Either the ceiling light in the dining room will go on, or it won’t. In either event you now have a better picture of the Deviation. If the light goes on, you can rule out “loss of power to the house” as a Likely Cause. If the light does not go on, you have more searching to do.

When you search for a Comparator you are gathering additional information and you are clarifying the Facts. The physical search for a GOOD COMPARATOR is an active endeavor. Often it is the search for a good Comparator itself is what gives you new insight into the nature of the Deviation.

Most people use the notion of searching for a Comparator from time to time. So, here’s the tip of the day – whenever you are faced with a problem (Deviation), make searching for a Comparator part of your standard approach. If you do, you will immediately become a better problem solver.

Lead On!

George Loyer George

George posts regularly to the blog at


Lessons in Sales, V:
Introduction to CODE

Let's Start at the Very Beginning, a Very Good Place to Start ...

CODE is the the integrated marketing-sales solution which we use and teach. We learned it through necessity: in the early summer of 2009, it appeared that we might be closing our doors. We had no pipeline, and debt was piling up. During the good times, we had “benefited” from the fact that we do really good work, and business during the previous nine years had come to us largely through word of mouth and networking. Our sales process was non-existent.

Lesson #1: in the new economy, being “good” isn’t good enough. As Dave Ramsey says, you have to go out, hunt it, kill it and drag it back to the cave. If you’re not focused and purposeful about your sales, your business will suffer.

A good friend directed us to Elizabeth Allen, the creator of CODE. She shared the system with us, and out of desperation, we began to implement it. A year later, we are “out of the woods” and growing again, with a respectable pipeline.

What is CODE? What Does CODE Stand For?

CODE is an acronym that stands for

  1. Communicate
  2. Organize
  3. Document
  4. Evaluate

The CODE training system teaches each member of the sales team how to be effective at each phase of the selling process (which we discussed in last week’s newsletter). That is, at each of the four phases of the sales process, your sales team should

  • be Communicating specific messages internally within the sales team and externally to the prospect to move him or her forward in the pipeline.
  • Organize its resources (people, time, money, marketing collateral, etc.) in particular ways to effectively support the sales efforts.
  • Document its efforts and the prospect’s reactions and responses to inform all future action.
  • rigorously Evaluate its performance, both that of the team and of the individuals within the team, to drive accountability, improvement and, ultimately, increasing sales.

CODE uses a color system (Yellow, Blue, Red, Green) to simplify and clarify internal communications so that everyone is on the same page. This language is documented in an easily-understood YBR (10 points to the first reader who guesses what YBR stands for) spreadsheet. The CODE system is purposefully “low tech” - what matters is that each person on the sales team understands where the prospect is, what has been done in the past, what the next effective action, and who is responsible.

How Do We Get Started?

The CODE system begins with the MAP, or Marketing Action Plan. The MAP documents

  1. Who You Know
  2. Who You Don’t (But Would Like To)
  3. Marketing Events
  4. Top Three Marketing Priorities

These form the basis for your Phase 1 Lead Generation activities. Next week, we’ll break down CODE strategies for developing your MAP and Phase I. 

All the Best,

RobRob Benson

PS. I will be presenting two workshops on the CODE sales process at the upcoming National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Conference in Louisville, KY on September 2, 2010. If you are in the area, please consider joining us at that event. Email me if you'd like further details.

Our Current Blog Posts

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Register for an Upcoming Public Workshop

  • Trouble Shooting Logic
    • September 20-22, 2010, Atlanta, GA
    • October 25-27, 2010, Atlanta, G
  • The Sales CODE, September 14-15, 2010, Atlanta, GA
  • Performance Coaching, September 23-24, 2010, Atlanta, GA
  • Mastering Involvement, October 28, 2010, Atlanta, GA
  • Trouble Shooting Logic Train-the-Trainer (T3), November 8-19, 2010, Atlanta, GA
  • Experiential Expertise Train-the-Trainer (T3) -  Openers, Initiatives and Low Elements - November 30-December 1, 2010, Utica, MS
  • Experiential Expertise Train-the-Trainer (T3) - Trust, Low Ropes, High Ropes and AlpineTower - December 2-3, 2010, Utica, MS


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