I had some good feedback on the post Monday about Commitment, and I had one reader who took offence at the statement I made about sales people being perfectionists, and using that as an excuse not to take action. Specifically I said: “reps who refuse to do anything till they have a complete “picture”, yet it is never complete because there is always “just one more thing”.”
The reader’s view is that perfection is something to strive for, and should be strived for by every sale person. I agree with the notion, or desire to improve and perfect, but not if it prevents you from getting started. I am sure others have said it, but I remember it from Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“, “life is a journey, not a destination”. This is true in sales, while the results count, it is the steps you take as a sales professional that count in making the result what it is, no steps, no results. It’s one thing to strive for perfection, it is another to wait for it.
It is also true that we learn from our mistakes, and while I am not advocating making mistakes for the sake of learning, you need to get started and do things if you are going to make mistakes to learn from. Sure being perfect is one way to avoid these lessons, sales only seem perfect once you take action, again, not by waiting for it.
This is neither new or unique in business, think back to the dot com heyday, how many imperfect products were introduced, and improved once in the market. At the same time think of how many great ideas died on the white board, died waiting for the last tiniest element to come together, sadly never did, and they never saw the light of day (or an IPO). While we have all been willing participants in beta launches, we have all been unwilling victims of products that were “formally launched” and then perfected (or at least patched).
The key is that yes it is our role as professionals to do our best, doing the best by the buyer, but best does not equal perfect. Best is better, because it recognizes that you can execute, learn and improve; perfect is just perfect, you can get better, but you can’t get more perfect. The key is that you execute, do and improve. How many great sales plans are gathering dust on a shelf because someone is waiting for that last ingredient that will make the perfect.
So I stand by the statement that some sales people use the “quest for perfection” as a rationale for not executing, instead of using execution as a means towards the elusive goal of perfection. I am not perfect, but I sell well, and will continue to improve through execution. Don’t worry about mistakes, worry about not taking the opportunity to make them.
What’s in Your Pipeline?