If you want to get focused on improving your sales operations, "The 4 Disciplines of Execution" (4DX) by Sean Covey and Chris McChesney is THE book to read, study, and implement.

4DX does a great job of simplifying the sales operations process into 4 powerful steps. 

Here is a breakdown of the book, with questions for you and your team to discuss as you go through the process of implementing 4DX.

Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important

  • In determining your wildly important goal, don’t ask “What’s most important?” Instead, begin by asking “If every other area of our operation remained at its current level of performance, what is the one area where change would have the greatest impact?” 
  • This means saying NO to a LOT of great ideas.

Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures

  • Discipline 2 requires you to define the daily or weekly measures that will lead to your goal. Then, each day or week, your team identifies the most important actions that will drive those lead measures. In this way, your team is creating a just-in-time plan that enables them to quickly adapt, while remaining focused on the Wildly Important Goal (WIG).

Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

  • The scoreboard should be visible to everyone on the team at a quick glance. 
  • It should be simple.
  • It should show lead AND lag measures.
  • You should be able to tell who’s winning at a glance. 

Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability

  • Each week, one by one, team members answer a simple question: “What are the one or two most important things I can do in the next week outside of the whirlwind (which 4DX defines as your day-to-day urgent activities) that will have the biggest impact on the scoreboard?”
  • The secret to Discipline 4, in addition to the repeated cadence, is that team members create their own commitments.
  • Meetings should be NO LESS often than once per week. 
  • The whirlwind is never allowed into a WIG (wildly important goal) session. No matter how urgent an issue may seem, discussion in the WIG session is limited solely to actions and results that move the scoreboard.

Now that you have a good 30,000 foot view of "The 4 Disciplines of Execution", here are some tips from the authors on getting started.

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Steps to Implementing 4DX in Your Organization

1. Define the WIG

  • Begin with a verb.
  • Define the lag measure in terms of X to Y by when (for example: increase rolling 12 month sales from $2 million to $2.5 million by the end of this year)
  • Keep it simple.
  • Focus on what, not how.

2. Act on Lead Measures 

  • “What could we do that we’ve never done before that might make all the difference to the WIG?”
  • “What strengths of this team can we use as leverage on the WIG? Where are our ‘pockets of excellence’? What do our best performers do differently?”
  • “What weaknesses might keep us from achieving the WIG? What could we do more consistently?”
  • Choose 1 or 2 lead measures.

3. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard 

  • The more the team is involved in building the scoreboard, the more they will be dedicated to action and to keeping score.
  • The scoreboard must display both lead and lag measures.

4. Create a Cadence of Accountability 

  • Report on last week's commitments.
  • Learn from successes and failures. Are the lead measures moving the lag measures? Should we make a pivot?
  • Make new commitments for the week.
  • Instead of a weekly meeting, consider a 5-7 minute “huddle”.
  • As the leader- start the meeting with what YOU are going to be accountable for in the next week.

How could implementing a sales operation like this help your business? 

Have you already implemented any of these disciplines?


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Brad Telker
Vice President of Commercial Sales at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of Commercial Sales, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys photography, running and spending time with his family.


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