Lead The Long Game

CCEver watched a building or cooking show on TV?  See the carnage a bit of stress and a clock can place on ordinarily level headed person?  Suddenly skill is compromised by speed.  Accuracy by compromise.  Quality by achievement.

How about the joke going around with regards to Speed, Price and Quality – you can have any two together just not all three at once?

Sales isn’t vastly different.  We have both a time frame (usually our reporting periods) and, more often than not, also have quota’s to achieve.  What the both of these can drive is the same behaviour we see on the reality shows mentioned above.  The quota and the time frames produce stress and this often produces counter-productive sales behaviours like price being compromised to achieve target/quota or accuracy being compromised.

Worse than this is the unseen and unmeasured behaviour which can be far more significant but is far harder to uncover.  It can result in sales people playing a short game, rather than a long game.

In a sales environment that is heavy on targets and quotas – your sales team can end up only focusing on the quick wins.  Wins that are easily displaced by price rather than relationship.  Wins which come easily (and, unfortunately, also go easily).

What are often foregone in these instances are the slow burn prospective clients.  Those which you need to foster over time.  Which you need to court.  Before you get a chance to talk about their business.  If a sales person is stressed about achieving target, will they invest the time today in a prospective client which won’t close in the medium term?  They should, but will they?  It is an arguable truth in sales that the best future clients of yours are usually the best clients of their incumbent.  So it is naïve not to expect a battle to win them.

So sales targets can be counter-intuitive if measured and managed improperly.  They can result in transactional rather than relationship selling.

What becomes difficult is this cycle can be difficult to break.  Someone who has been achieving target by ‘quick wins’ will find it very difficult to suddenly focus long because they will have to go backwards to go forwards.  However, this same person will, eventually, have to face this reality when the quick wins dry up.  In my opinion, this is why many sales people eventually fail and move on.

Good sales people realise it is better to have a pipeline full of many ‘slow burn’ clients at various stages than one full of ‘quick wins’.  Slow burn clients are more sustainable.  You can impart more value.  You form the relationship before the transaction.  You get to date before you get married.  Good sales people ignore their targets and deadlines, they know if they do the correct things, these will take care of themselves.

As a sales leader, don’t just measure like a reality show and count down to the looming deadline or quota.  This is management, not leadership.  You need to identify not just whether your sales team is hitting their target, but how they’re doing it.

Video’s on topic worth watching:

Jack Vincent – Sales Is A Love Affair  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZckGSY5UPA

Dan Pink – The Puzzle Of Motivation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrkrvAUbU9Y


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