Focus on Sales Process, Not Outcomes


Focus on Sales Process, Not Outcomes

outcomes, sales leadI recently finished reading Moneyball by Michael Lewis (I still look forward to watching the movie).  Great book with lots of examples and stories that apply to sales, sales management and leadership in general.  At one point in the book the author is sitting in a video room with Paul DePodesta (one of Billy Beane's lieutenants) watching a live feed of a game.  Rather than watching the commercial broadcast they just watched the video feed from the center field camera because that provided the best view of the strike zone.  DePodesta wasn't interested in watching the whole game as an ordinary fan would; rather, he was watching the fragments of the game that provided the information he was interested in.

"It's looking at process rather than outcomes," Paul says.  "Too many people make their decisions based on outcomes rather than process."

By narrowing their focus to specific process components Beane and DePodesta were able to see things other baseball insiders missed.  They were able to see the remarkable value of a disciplined approach at the plate that lead to consistently taking pitches rather than embracing the "swing for the fences" mindset that is more commonly accepted in baseball.

In our sales force development consulting practice we often see CEOs, Presidents, and Business Owners who put more value and emphasis on sales outcomes than sales processes.  It's similar to coaching a basketball game by only watching the scoreboard.  When this happens your sales team can get the wrong message and focus on the wrong behaviors. 

We've seen "award-winning sales people" fail and sputter six months later, unable to reproduce the big deal that got them the award in the first place.  We've seen sales people absolutely crushing their sales quota one month lose the big account driving those results the next month.

Focus on the sales process by picking 2-3 key metrics to track to create better discipline and more consistent results across your sales organization.  Remember:

- Sometimes sales people do everything right, and still don't get the deal.  Celebrate their discipline and fidelity to the sales process. 

- Sometimes sales people do a lot of things wrong, and still win the deal inspite of what they did.  Be grateful for the revenue then point out where they could have done better by following the process.

If your sales team knows what to focus on and can focus on the right activities day in and day out, the results will follow.  Are your sales managers focused on process or outcomes?   What would happen to revenue growth if your sales managers understood not just what happened (outcomes) but also how and why it happened (process)?  Which is more predictable?  Which is more forward looking?