In some sports and other skills based endeavours, for example figure skating, you can score points for artistic merit, and you also get scored on execution. Sales on the other hand is more like hockey or football (North American), while Artistic Merit is admired, execution is key, but the only measure that counts at the end, is the outcome, did we win, or, well really, what else is there? Execution is a means to an end, not an end on to itself, which is why teams and coaches use playbooks to help their teams execute better, but better execution without the results, i.e. winning a client and the revenue that leads to, does not lead to long term sales success.
While I have always been a proponent of a good sales process, and having a playbook to assist and improve execution, let’s not lose sight of the overall objective: Revenue! I worry when I see sales managers and leaders put a greater emphasis on process and playbook than results. I have seen to many mistake one for the other, where sales people who delivered results were questioned about why they did not follow the process, rather than given credit for assessing the situation and acting.
You can see the opposite of this when sales people who continue to underperform, but are maintained (and rationalized) because they were “compliant”, followed the process. Don’t be that seller who continuously achieves also-ran status with high artistic merit, and low points for execution.
A process and playbook are meant to be dynamic and evolving, the only way to improve and to ensure that it is effective in the only thing that counts, Revenue, to continue to evolve it based on market realities. The market and out prospects continue to evolve, treating your playbook and process as though they are impervious to change will only lead to more work, and over time diminished results.
Playbooks are a collection of best practices, which requires we continue to test, examine, deploy, review and execute again. They are guidelines not divine declarations, every day your process does not evolve in some way, is a day you fall behind. We cringe when prospects say “because we have always done it that way”, yet we seem to be comfortable with allowing that thinking when it comes to playbooks and processes.
Too many sales managers and organization spend too much valuable time on pipeline reviews, a deep dive of ass covering. Instead they should be doing process and playbook reviews, after all what is in your pipeline is a result of how good your process is and how well it is executed. In fact, they should be doing Pipeline Previews, this allows my clients to look ahead, and understand which elements of their playbook and process will help move the sale forward, and which need to evolve to ensure they win the sale. Good execution of a bad process or playbook means nothing at the end of the day; may look good, but little more.