Monday, October 15, 2012

Process vs. Performance -- Know The Difference

The amount of time in your life and your sales career is finite. Once it's spent, you can't get it back. To quote time management guru Alan Lakein, "Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it."

In terms of spending your time at work, each of us has a responsibility to achieve the desired outcome of every activity as effectively as possible. Most activities can be categorized into one of two types -- performance-based and process-based. Both types of activities require you to gauge the level of accuracy/completeness that is needed for the task while completing the task as quickly as possible.

Performance-Based Activities
Performance-based activities are ones which:
1. You should err more on the side of speed and achieving the desired outcome rather than being perfectly accurate and absolutely complete.
2. Have no specific right or wrong answer.
3. Have no finite end, but rather the person performing the activity defines the end.

Examples of performance-based activities include:
Pre-call planning: Theoretically, a sales rep could pre-call plan indefinitely, gathering every bit of data they can on the prospect company, their market, and the Decision Maker.
Probing to understand: A rep could ask questions indefinitely without ever delivering value to the prospect.
Skepticism: Being skeptical on any subject can be infinite. You must determine when you have enough specific information to make a judgment.

Process-Based Activities
Process-based activities are ones which:
1. Are expected to be error free. As a result, you should err more on the side of being accurate and complete vs. completing the activity quickly.
2. Have a clear right or wrong answer.
3. Have a finite end that is predetermined by someone or something rather than the person performing the activity. Once you have completed each of the steps of the job with accuracy, you can be confident the activity is complete.

Examples of process-based activities include: writing up a customer order, entering customer contact information into your CRM system, and invoicing a customer.

Your sales career will be harmed if your performance-based activities move too slowly or your process-based activities move too fast to be accurate and complete. This is not to say performance-based activities can or should be done inaccurate or incomplete, or to say process-based activities should be done slowly. The opposite is true. The more accurate/complete performance-based activities are completed, the more effective you will be. Likewise, the faster process-based activities are completed, the less overhead your business has because you'll complete more work in a day, and have time to make more sales.

Understanding the difference between performance- and process-based activities will help you become a more effective sales rep.

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of four leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, VertMarkets, and Howland Peterson Consulting.