​Sales Is Not A Participation Medal Sport

​​I've witnessed the glaringly odd piece of corporate bizarrerie down the years when it comes to selling compensation.

The Financials software team given a "sales holiday" because a particular new product wasn't ready.

The blue-chip tech infrastructure team awarded bonus based on 100pc despite selling nothing because 'their marketing effort was good'.

The distraction caused by arguments over randomly assigned 'splits' based on management bias, when by quirk of delivery something sold by someone elsewhere was credited to the alleged territory 'owner', despite them having so little to do with the sale they didn't even know it existed nor would they have ever chased it.

In my youth there used to be an oft-cited Olympic motto; 'it's not winning, but taking part'.

Yet I never heard anyone express any thought that this was apt.

It seems ascribed to the founder of the modern Games, who lest we forget, actively forbade female participation. He went on to say; 'the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well'.

Which brings sense to a slightly different nuance.

Yet I do not consider these two approaches as binary.

There is a third axis. You can think in 3-D.

One of the most successful switches in sales targets I ever instigated was with a team of appointment setters. Tasked with cold calling senior execs, measured as traditional by the number of meetings booked.

Yet I value, as regular readers will likely know, systems over goals. So I changed the tracked outcome.

In part, a major influence on me was a project undertaken as a post-grad. Where a service provider was struggling to keep to contracted delivery uptime. Their prime marker termed Availability, secondary, Reliability. Yet Availability was constantly well below par. My investigation recommended that they switch emphasis. When they then prioritised Reliability first, Availability magically rose.

And so to my selling swap.

Gone were breathless pitches to disrupted execs in the hope of glittering verbal gymnastics overcoming objections and wear down the suspect into begrudgingly accepting a meet.

Instead, all I wanted focus on was 'conversations'.

The means being the true indicator of eventual ends.

It worked (and continues to work to this day) a treat.

It is neither participation nor medal fixation which gets us there. Think about how you'd be better off saying, 'Sales is a Process-Driven Sport'.

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