Can Your Process Outcome Switcheroo Count?

Once upon a time I endured a rather dispiriting experience. An encounter with a superkeen young graduate, two years in the workplace.

They delighted in telling me their prime, sole even, motivation was to earn mountains of money.

I tried to encourage reflection from guided experience. To help perhaps rebalance this flawed, misleading and ultimately unfulfilling direction.

With all the dismissive confidence of youth, my suggestion that the true driver to unlock ‘wealth’ – in whatever form you view it – is really more about seeking accomplishment rather than chasing cash, was waved away with a meh.

I frown thinking of the number of times I’d heard this type of core principle from salespeople. I did ponder at the time how this transaction could have gone better. If someone isn’t open, then yes, they are shut. Yet just this week I read from the pr trail of a bigtime footballer.

A medal drawer bulging with just about every club and country laurel, Juan Mata names his memoir, Suddenly a Footballer.

He cites driving philosophy as partly deriving from American author William Bruce Cameron;

“Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted”.

(Incidentally, I was intrigued to also learn this is one of many pearls mis-attributed to Einstein.) I’ve always liked this concept. Apparently, it’s from his 1963 book, Informal Sociology. I’d come across something similar at b-school.  Which I found again here by way of tweet;

p121 “Out of the Crisis”, W.E. Deming: “the most important figures that one needs for management are unknown or unknowable (Lloyd S. Nelson, Dir. of statistical methods at Nashua Corp.) but successful management must nevertheless take account of them.”

On a thread that contained other gems. Including (the hopefully not too Sphinx-ian deepism);

We can’t measure what we care about, so we care about what we can measure


Money can be counted, therefore people use that as a measure of success and chase it. Happiness cannot be counted, so people end up chasing the wrong things.

In a similar vein, whenever I’ve see a salesperson compromise true achievement progress in favour of commission cheque focus, there’s seldom, if ever, a long-term happy holding-hands skipping into the sunset.

Indeed, it’s easy for the unwary to be ensnared by this cart-before-horse trap.

Many a seller would be well advised to follow the path of world-class athletes. Of which I’ve blogged regularly down the years at their deep understanding of the right-way-round on these. The vaunted “drive to succeed” also completely divorced from monetary reward.

There is though an extra angle here.

I’m thinking too of the bid Business Case. A documented RoI. The Ready Reckoner spreadsheet. The Cost/Benefit Analysis. Figures writ large. Demonstrating in black and white (even when a sensitivity analysis is applied) why you are a sound investment in hard-nosed numbers. All eventually leading to a financial justification.

This is a key, sometimes pivotal, element of any solution sale. Even a centrepiece of a Proposal.

Seasoned recipients of such may well have developed an in-built scepticism. Perhaps damaged in the past when believing pitched ‘unicorn returns’. This can cloud first viewing.

I tend to recommend a conservative approach to generating the values for your cells. Always provided by the prospect, naturally. With ranges as well as absolutes to soften resistance. Yet we cannot neglect the emotion behind their ultimate buying decision.

Dropping such a phrase as Bruce Cameron’s sounds to me like a good way of sowing a fruitful seed. To cultivate other reasons they’ll buy. And anything that helps uncover true decision making criteria is a very good thing indeed.

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