I don’t like diets. I prefer to incorporate as many nourishing, complete foods into my diet as possible while maintaining a regular exercise routine. By doing this, I feel that my health concerns will take care of themselves. I don’t focus on any one number or set of numbers (weight, cholesterol, or calories); I just focus on doing the best thing for my body in each situation. This long-term approach helps me reach my health goals without getting panicked by short-term “failures” or getting too focused on a narrow goal (like weight loss).
Just as it seems counterintuitive to lose weight by not focusing on losing weight, it also seems counterintuitive that you could actually win more (in sports, life or business) by focusing less on the win. But it’s true.
Let me explain. Coach Bill Walsh (named the second greatest coach in NFL history by ESPN) celebrated every well-executed play, whether or not that play resulted in a score or a win. To him, it didn’t matter if the play was unsuccessful in its results as much as that it was successful in its execution. Because of his sincere love and respect for the game of football, Walsh focused on training his team to play with precision. On the other hand, a “successful” play, executed sloppily, earned his correction.
The same is true for sales professionals. The more we focus on getting the sale and meeting our monthly goals, the more stressful and less productive we become. Don’t get me wrong: Focusing less on the short-term goal isn’t about lowering the standard. It is about creating a positive environment around the disciplined execution of winning plays (i.e. the sales process).
Highly disciplined execution of plays (in other words, perfecting your sales process) doesn’t just happen. It requires salespeople (and ideally, company cultures) to focus on long-term goals without getting stressed about the short-term ones. Coach Walsh liked to practice so hard that the plays became instinctive. In the sales department, a “play” might be closing someone on the value of the product or convincing them that your plan is the best available option for their needs. These “plays” may or may not lead to someone signing on the dotted line, but salespeople increase their probability of success by focusing on perfecting the process.
Spending all your focus on the desired end result will make salespeople reluctant to admit when they make a mistake and limit their freedom to try new things. The more we focus on results, the more we panic.
As salespeople focus on improving their understanding and execution of winning plays/behaviors, their confidence increases. And where there’s confidence, there’s a winning individual, team and company. Salespeople who take this approach will not only garner success; they will do it with integrity.
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