Focus on Process

Working in sales we carry the burden of expectation: quotas, attainment and metrics. It can be overwhelming. Every team meeting is about ‘numbers’ ‘goals’ and hitting your quota. Quota is the end goal, but sales is a journey.

Quotas are important as success indicator, but when focus solely on Quota attainment we will fail and burn out. Why? Because quotas are based on results and results come from process. The problem is too many sales organizations solely focus on ‘quota pressure’ – that ‘hurry up and sell’ mentality. This mentality – while might be the crux of many morning meetings is not a good motivator. It stresses out sales professionals.

For years, I struggled with anxiety because I thought if I missed quota my career would fall apart. Quota attainment consumed me – I prayed about it, worried about it and worked long hours just to hit ‘quota.’ I remember spending the majority of my vacation thinking about my quota and working the entire vacation.

The problem with ‘quota focus’ is that it places the burden of expectation without a roadmap how to get there.

The best sales managers I’ve worked with have always encouraged me to think beyond the quota and focus on the process – not the outcome. The outcome is important, but if you properly take time to invest in quality discover and solution selling – you will succeed.

One manager gave the example of ‘driving to Dairy Queen,’ it is not a straight roadmap from my house to Dairy Queen – you have to make turns and there are stop lights and intersections. Quota is Dairy Queen, are are able to focus on the process and be fully in the moment in the deal cycle. You can anticipate the next steps, but if you jump ahead too quickly you will make a wrong turn and miss the destination.

When I was interviewing for my current role, I appreciated guidance from the hiring manager you encouraged me to ‘Focus on what I can control – the process.’ Even the best sellers fall short sometimes. Sales is a mix of skill and a bit of luck. The best sellers consistently consistently hit quota because they are ‘all-in’ focused on the process. But, even then sometimes you fall short. Too often sales professionals feel defeated and cling to that failure, which can be paralyzing.

When you think outside the quota and focus on the process, you don’t tie your worth to quota attainment. Instead you knw that you are consistently all in – giving your best and constantly doing everything within your control to win the deal.

99% of life is reacting to things out of our control. I don’t say this to be an alarmist, but rather to help you recognize that when it comes to sales – you cannot force a client to say ‘yes’ – you can proactively work to ensure that you are doing everything within your power to make sure the deal is moving forward.

When you focus on the process – tackling even the small details within a deal and actively working with clients to solve problems – you will consistently be successful because your are giving it your all and helping clients transform their business.

Losing a deal when you didn’t follow process and just pushed the deal to close quickly – will sting more than a deal you truly focused on because at the end of the day you left everything on the table.

Quota is the destination, but don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you fail to truly drive the sales process forward with empathy, action and consultation.

Focusing on the Process, not the Outcome keeps you grounded in the moment. How many deals, businesses, dreams have gone to the wayside because the early results were not great? A lot of businesses found success by tuning out the distractions and voices of ‘failure’ instead focusing on how they can improve the process.

The outcome is an end result of process and action. Don’t let what seems unattainable prevent you from moving forward.

One of the key methodologies I reference is Focus on How. I like this mindset – because it helps you create a system of action to go from starting point to end destination. Focus on How helps you to focus on the process, so you can attain a successful outcome.

  • How can I improve customer experience?
  • How can I provide the roadmap for the client
  • How can I close this deal?
    • What can I do to ensure I do everything in my capability to help the client succeed and in turn close the deal?

How to focus on the Process:

  • make a list of what you need to do to ensure client needs are met
  • prepare for each call and have discovery and pain questions mapped out in advance
  • Ensure you have the necessary information on the client end (budget, authority) to ensure the right conversation is happening with the key stakeholders
  • Always ask what your clients care about and strategize how your product can meet their needs
  • Forecast – but prepare for any weather: Forecast is important and has a science to it – but any sales professional can tell you that the most accurate forecasters prepare in advance for any weather.
    • What I mean by this is – focus on how you can preemptively objection handle and don’t assume a deal is closing before the process is complete (example – you spoke with the champion and all the required capabilities are met, but on the fifth call there is an issue because the DM hasn’t been involved).
  • Be agile – any good sales professional relies on methodology and in the moment agility to ensure that there are no gaps in driving the deal forward. Focusing on processes like Discovery and quality demoing need to be coupled with active listening, client cues and other components.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other coworkers: You can learn from your colleagues – in fact you need to lean into them – sales professionals grow with humility in knowledge sharing. You do not however need to compare your performance to your coworker.
    • I remember in the office how happy I was when a coworker hit quota and yet I felt personal failure because I ‘couldn’t keep up with them’ and panic set in: ‘Will I hit my goal?’ ‘Why am I behind.’ I was genuinely happy for my friend/colleague – but unfortunately many sales organizations focus on comparing instead of TEAM.
    • You can only control what you can control. You can learn from a colleague’s success and celebrate it but that it is there success. Your focus has to be on what you can control. As Theodore Roosevelt said ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Focus on what you can control. Create an action plan. Hold yourself accountable and enjoy the ride. Sales is fun when we focus on the client and use case. We can impact meaningful change when we focus on how we get to quota, not the quota itself.

Hopefully this is helpful!

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