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When the Scoreboard Lies

February 1, 2024
When the Scoreboard Lies

You may have heard of the famous UCLA basketball coach, the late John Wooden. He passed away at age 99 and is remembered (by all who know the sport) as the best college basketball coach of all time, building the greatest dynasty in sports. Any argument to the contrary is short-lived. He is simply known as “Coach.” He was famous for saying, “We play to win.”

But he also used to say that most people misunderstood what he meant. He did always play to win, yes, but winning was never the way he measured total success, nor was it how he gauged the success of people under his supervision.

He went on to say that for him, there is a standard that ranks above winning. He would never allow the scoreboard alone to be the judge of whether or not he had achieved success. Keep your head down, stick to the plan, and ignore the scoreboard. And I think this is really, really important in our business world.

Whether you’re a CSR, lead coordinator, service technician, salesperson, or whatever, you can’t just measure your entire success by the outcome alone, because the numbers can be misleading. Let me give an example.

Beginner’s Luck

I’ve seen situations where I’ve had a brand new salesperson who wasn’t very good at the process of selling, but they could sometimes go out on a call and get lucky by selling a $25,000 system. Does that mean that his process was good, that his sales presentation was good? Of course not. In this instance, he just got lucky.

And I’ve also seen it where very experienced, very qualified salespeople go out and do an amazing presentation, communicate tons of value to their homeowner, and guess what? They don’t get the deal. Does that mean they didn’t do a great job? Of course not. So we have to be very careful in sales and business.

The long-term outcomes are important, yes. And managers have to measure things like average service ticket and revenue per lead, close rates, that type of thing. But that’s not the only measurement — we have to focus on the one thing that we control, and that is our process. We always say, “We control the process; the homeowner controls the outcome.”

So that’s really important because if you only measure your success by whether or not you have a great outcome, you might do an awesome job on a sales call and then look at a bad close rate and scratch your head. Or maybe you didn’t close a particular deal, and you think you did a bad job. It’s just not true.

You have to evaluate yourself on your performance. How good are you at extending yourself emotionally and professionally to your homeowners? Did you serve them? Did you build great relationships? Did you perform thorough inspections and investigations? Did you take the time to explain the solutions and offer them to your homeowner? THAT is the process, and it’s the best yardstick for success.

If a salesperson in my company calls me after visiting a lead, I don’t ask if they closed the deal. I always say, “Listen, did you extend yourself professionally and emotionally to your homeowner? Did you serve them? Did you walk out with your dignity and your self-respect, knowing you did everything you could to serve that homeowner?”

And if the answer to that question is yes, I don’t worry about the close rate. I don’t worry about the outcome, because I know it’s going to be good in the long run. People who focus only on outcomes tend to become obsessed with that, but here’s the problem. If you focus only on the outcome, you’re going to be disappointed more than half the time if your close rate is under 50%. And that’s not good for morale. It’s not good for the long-term happiness of a salesperson, nor their desire to continue working in this profession.

A Brand New Day

Let’s suppose you’re a comfort advisor or a selling technician, and you walk into the house, and the homeowner says, “Just so you know, we’re not buying today.”

If we think negatively that the sale isn’t going to happen just because we heard those words, then what do you think will happen to our sales process? We will abandon it because we’ve already decided that it’s going to be a bad outcome.

I was on a lead not long ago with one of my salespeople. We were in the house down in the mechanical room, and the salesman was taking the measurements. Then the homeowner says, “I can’t wait to get ____ brand.” (I won’t mention the brand.)

And I knew right away we didn’t sell that brand. He had somehow gotten his wires crossed and thought we sold a particular brand that he wanted. And he had already talked to two other companies before we arrived that sold that particular brand. When the homeowner stated his desire for that brand we didn’t carry, the salesman looked right at me. I looked at the salesman, and I could immediately tell he was a little dejected, like, “Oh man, we’re not going to get this one.”

No Pit Stops

Not me, I ignored it. I stayed focused on the sales process, and I ran my entire sales call. I did it just the way I was supposed to do it, without skipping any steps. And as I’ve taught in my training, I review with homeowners why owning a particular brand is not the most important thing. The most important thing is me, the contractor.

Well, two hours later, we signed a deal for $26,000 for two new systems. We sold him our brand, not the brand he said he wanted earlier. If I had focused only on outcomes and I had made up my mind early that we were going to lose the sale because he wanted a different brand, I would have given up on my process. And if I ever give up on my process, then it’s over and done with. I’m going down the drain, along with my sales.

So you’ve got to stay focused on your process. Stay focused on what makes you awesome. Don’t get overly concerned about the outcome. Take care of the process, and the outcomes will take care of themselves. I’ve been in the business long enough to know who will become successful in this industry. Remaining patient, and staying with the entire sales process are two of the most important factors in long-term success.