The tenth and final sales-related skill set is the ability to manage outcomes. It is built on the foundational success attributes and skills (self-discipline, optimism, competitiveness, initiative, resourcefulness, determination, caring, empathy, communication, and influence), as well as the other nine sales-related skills (closing, differentiation, prospecting, business acumen, diagnosis, storytelling, negotiation, change management, and leadership).
What Are Outcomes?
An outcome is an end result. It is consequence of your actions or your lack of actions.
Managing Outcomes in Sales
Finish this sentence: “I sell __________________.” If you answered with anything other than the word “outcomes,” you are incorrect. You are incorrect even if what you sell is a simple product or service. There is an old saying in sales and marketing:
People don’t want to buy a drill. They want holes.
Great salespeople achieve results, not only for their company in the way of sales, but also for their clients in the way of improved performance. This improved performance is the outcome that they sell.
Great salespeople know that what they sell is an outcome. Now more than ever, they understand their responsibility to their client is to deliver that outcome. They know that their success in sales starts with obtaining the commitment to work together with their clients, and it ends with a result. Successful salespeople deliver the result that they sold.
Successful salespeople know that the delivery of the product or the implementation and execution of the service is not where their job ends. They orchestrate their teams to ensure that they deliver the promised outcome. They don’t allow an action that is necessary to achieving results to be ignored, and they don’t allow their inaction to derail a successful outcome.
Sometimes the outcome isn’t what is expected. Great salespeople work with their teams and their client’s teams to make adjustments so that they can achieve the outcome that they sold. Successful salespeople are present. They are standing in the trenches with their clients when they are most needed, when things are most difficult. Their presence is felt, and they bring all of their skills as a salesperson—and as a businessperson—to bear on their client’s struggles to ensure they achieve their outcome.
Successful salespeople build their reputation by delivering the outcomes that they sell. They build their reputation by achieving results for their clients.
When the Ability to Manage Outcomes Is Missing
When the ability to manage outcomes is missing, it is often the result of the salesperson believing that they sell something less than outcomes. If they sell a product, they believe their responsibility for results ends with the delivery of the product. If they sell services, they believe that their responsibility ends when they hand off the sale to their internal team. They are mistaken.
Salespeople who cannot manage the outcome, the result, for their clients fail to orchestrate their teams to deliver the promised result. When the outcome they sell isn’t achieved, the salesperson is often difficult to locate, and the client and their team members notice their absence. Without their presences and involvement in making adjustments with the client and their team, the client fails to achieve the outcome he was sold.
The inability to manage the outcome that they sold destroys the trust that is foundation of sales, and it destroys the salesperson’s reputation. It demolishes any chance of future business, and it makes a referral impossible. The failure to achieve the result that they sold is ultimately their failure in sales.
Salespeople don’t sell product or services; they sell outcomes. Successful salespeople manage these outcomes for their clients and their companies, ensuring that they achieve the results and the outcome that they sold.
1. Do I manage the outcome for my clients, ensuring that they achieve the results that I sold?
2. Am I engaged in the process of orchestrating my teams to deliver the result after I obtain the commitment? Do I do something more than a simple follow up call?
3. When the outcome is something different that what I promised, do I lead the effort to make the necessary adjustments to deliver what the outcome that I sold? Do I use all of my skills and attributes as a salesperson to negotiate changes that allow my clients to achieve the result?
4. Is my reputation as a salesperson that I am a skilled professional who can be trusted to deliver the results that she promises? When my clients refer me, what do they say about me? What do they say about my ability to deliver results?