Focus on execution, not results

Being in sales, it is easy to become emotional on the job.  After hearing “no” 20 times in a row, it’s easy to feel depressed, and it’s just as easy to become a little cocky when someone says yes, especially if it’s a big sale.  Unfortunately, these swings in attitude drastically affect the outcome of future sales.

Sales is a lot like sports in that results are instantaneous.  You either won or you lost; it’s pretty clear-cut.  The key is to not let the results affect your performance.

I have always been amazed by performers who never seemed to get too excited when things went well or too down when they didn’t. I wondered, “Do they even care about what happens?”  Well, of course they care or they wouldn’t be doing it.  No one throws himself into the pressure cooker of professional sports without wanting to be there.  But therein lies the key.  Performing in a way that communicates you don’t care about the results and focusing only on the task at hand is precisely what produces good results.

Oral Hershiser, the 1988 Cy Young award-winning pitcher and World Series MVP from the Los Angeles Dodgers, is known for saying, “If you focus on execution, and not results, you can’t help but be successful.”  He threw a major-league record 59 scoreless innings with that approach.

In sales (and probably many other areas of life), there are few things I can control, and results isn’t one of them.  I can’t make anyone buy anything from me.  So in order to be successful, I have to focus on the areas of my job I can control like my attitude, my tone, my questioning, my explanation of our product, my organization of my leads.  If I focus on being excellent at these aspects of my job, I’m probably going to be a pretty good salesman.  If I only focus on the results, I’m in for a roller-coaster ride of inconsistency and a short career in sales.

Whether it’s parenting your kids, selling a piece of medical equipment or trying to qualify for the US Open, don’t focus on results.  Focus on executing in the areas you can control and let the chips fall where they may.


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