As I was cleaning out some boxes in the garage over the weekend, I came across my old sports trophies. As I reflected fondly on the “good old days” of high school football a la Al Bundy, I couldn’t help but be struck by the countless leadership and life lessons I picked up through my years of playing organized sports.
One of the lessons that jumped out at me is around defining success. For a number of years, I was pretty involved in competitive weightlifting, which would explain the chronic back and shoulder problems I have today! Prior to each of my competitions, I would set out specific goals. Often it was as simple as winning the meet. However, sometimes I knew going in that based on the competition, I was likely going to win or that I didn’t have a remote shot at first place. In those scenarios, I would identify specific goals such as beating a personal record, placing in the top 5, or simply picking up a new training tip. Setting these goals helped me to stay motivated and set me on a path of continuous improvement. Also, when I didn’t achieve a goal, I had something specific to work towards in the future.
Now, I can almost guarantee anyone who has led sales teams before has had some variation of this conversation with a rep:
“How did the call with XYZ Corp go today?”
“It was great!”
“Glad to hear that. What made it great?”
Cue the silence.
It is a simple question that is impossible to answer if you did not define success for that call in advance. It’s important to note that success is not always that the client decided to buy. Sometimes success is identifying who the decision makers are. Other times success is getting a clear picture of the budget or uncovering their pain points. Regardless of what success is, it is important that you define it in advance so that you know whether you achieved what you set out to do.
The beauty of defining success before a meeting, and it doesn’t just have to be a sales call, is that it helps you plan on how to open the conversation, anticipate any conflicts, and discuss relevant solutions.
Feel free to reach out to me to learn more.