As a sales manager, it’s an easy trap to fall into. You encourage a high work rate and high levels of activity. All necessary to succeed in sales, but then you notice something; your salespeople start to measure progress in terms of “work completed”, but don’t seem to be making much progress. And that’s because their definition of progress is work or activity-based rather than outcome-based.
- A great meeting is not an outcome. It’s activity. (It can also be imagined!)
- A meeting that went on longer than we planned is not an outcome.
- Sending a proposal is not an outcome.
- Making a call is not an outcome.
- A CRM activity report is not showing outcomes. It’s just showing work completed or work not done, or a CRM not updated.
Outcomes are how things turn out. In the sales world they include:
- A scheduled meeting (telephone or face-to-face) is an outcome.
- Creating a new opportunity today is an outcome.
- Moving an opportunity to the point where the buyer can make an informed yes/no decision is an outcome.
- Getting a prospect to invest enough money in a project that will make them successful i.e. they raise their commitment. (This is a hugely overlooked and valuable outcome in sales.)
- A prospect telling you that for now, the obstacles are too big and they cannot move forward is an outcome. (It’s a negative outcome, but now you know where you stand and the likely scale of the challenge.)
Outcomes are what are left over when all the work is done. You can only ever produce very few valuable outcomes, and that’s usually from a lot of work and some, but not extraordinary skill.