It’s Not (Just) the Numbers. It’s the Journey that Counts.

The old school in me still is gripped by the training I received many years ago at Xerox – my first job in trained sales.  Xerox was the best place to learn HOW to professionally sell and all of that goodness is still with me to this day.  One of the things we learned how to do was how to cold call and the more the merrier. More numbers, more proposals, more sales.  You know the drill.  Is sales still a numbers game?  Yes. No. Maybe.  Remember the old saying ” it’s not the destination, but the journey that counts?”  Its that saying that inspired me to write this article.  Lets focus more on the journey to the deal and not get do whacked out over JUST the numbers.

There has been so much written over the years about the “new sales”, “cold calling is dead”, “it’s the relationship” and so forth.  It’s all good stuff and it all has some validity and relevance.  Nothing I have seen really addresses the age old argument about numbers.  Is selling – at its core- still a numbers game?    Of course it is and activity is critical.  I’m not questioning that bedrock principle.  Here is what I would propose.  It’s not just the numbers, it’s also time to think seriously about the journey we travel to get the sale and not get nuts just about the number of “things” you do to get there.  Now, so that we are clear, sales do not happen in a vacuum and numbers DO matter.  They matter big time and when sales aren’t happening I always look to the numbers and other things as well. Praying, wishing assuming and hoping for the sale in the absence of numbers driven activity is useless.  Now listen up-knowing and understanding the path that took you to the “yes” also counts.  Once we know that then we can duplicate it over and over again and that’s how you get your QUALITY numbers.  Yes, you heard it right – there are two kinds of numbers.  Quantity and quality.  The journey and what we do along the way is what makes the numbers be more than just that-a number.

Go on a trip with me and let’s see where we land.  The only difference is we are going to start at the destination and work backwards.  It’s like playing a song in reverse.

  1. Think of your last sale. HOW did you meet the decision maker?  HOW did you connect the dots and make the connections that led you to his or her doorstep? Were there one or two or many forms of communicating that you tried?
  2. Speaking of communication it’s certainly no secret we have many at our disposal. Too many as far as I am concerned, but that’s a discussion for another day.  For now, think about the journey to your closed sale.  What forms of communication did you use and what worked?  What is your comfort level with each?  Why were some successful and others not?
  3. 7-10. We have about seven to ten seconds to make an impression on people so that they want to know more and ask you for it. What we say in those seconds matters.  BIG time.  Those precious seconds are vital to our prospect inviting you onto the “elevator” to continue the conversation.
  4. Was it easy to do business with you and your company? What would the client say about their total experience- their journey – of making that sale happen with you?  How many quality interactions occurred with you and your virtual sales team?  What made them work?
  5. If you look at the sale as a spectrum from beginning to end, did you move seamlessly from step to step? Why?  What were the roadblocks along the way? Conversely, what sped you long?

The questions I am asking are not easy. They will be different for each of you reading this article.   You have to dig deep and identify the common thread that’s makes your journey successful and profitable.  Each of you has your own “mojo” – your secret sauce as it were.  I am urging you to think and evaluate every day and after each thing you do.   Throwing numbers up for the sake of numbers is just that.  Throw up.  Let me repeat what I said earlier “the journey and what we do along the way is what makes the numbers be more than just that-a number.”

Focus on the journey and each subsequent journey will get better and more efficient.  You will get what you want.

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4 thoughts on “It’s Not (Just) the Numbers. It’s the Journey that Counts.”

  1. Todd – Very well said. My first “trained sales” job was at IBM. What they taught me many many years ago lines up perfectly with the nature of your questions. I’m happy and proud to say that IBM sales training was then – and probably still is today – the best around.

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