Lisa Rose at the Brooks Group blog has a good post called 7 Characteristics of the Most Successful Salespeople. It’s a good list, but something struck me about it. The list is basically a set of goals in and of itself, microgoals one can work toward to achieve the eventual goal of more sales.
But what I’ve read about goals, and which strikes me as incredibly insightful, is that good goals are process-oriented, not results-oriented. Sure, your end goal is to get more sales. That’s a result. But your microgoal should be implementing a process, such as making 20 sales calls per day. Results-focused goals can be demoralizing and paralyzing. How do I get more sales? What should I do? Why isn’t it working? On the other hand, how to achieve a good process-oriented microgoal is crystal clear, and is something you have tons of control over.
Some of supporting characteristics of the 7 Characteristics of the Most Successful Salespeople, such as “Maintaining focus on goals,” and “Identifying and acting on removing potential obstacles to successful goal attainment,” are so-called process-oriented goals. But many of them are results goals, such as “Effectively impact prospects’ and customers’ actions,” well, yeah, if I could do that consistently and well, I wouldn’t need to read online sales listicles, now would I?
“When you are focused on the outcome and you attach your worth to the outcome, you will find yourself very resistant to trying new things and putting forth your best effort,” wrote
Margaret Paul, Ph.D., bestselling author and relationship expert, for Huffington Post. “When you define your worth by your performance rather than your effort, you stop yourself dead at the starting gate.”
I think it’s a good lens through which to evaluate where to put your focus. Naturally, we’re going to want to focus on results. It’s how other people evaluate us. It’s where the ultimate value is. But while we’re breaking down how to get to good results, we must focus on processes, individual actions on our part, not the part of others, which will incrementally get us to where we want to go.