My last post kicked off a six-part series entitled, “Your Sales Culture Is Killing You.” For example, in every conversation, when managers become too attached to the result or their own agenda, it erodes trust and sabotages people’s potential. That’s why it’s so critical to become a Process Driven Thinker.
What does the word ‘process’ mean to you? When you think about processes, what comes to mind? Your HR process, interviewing process, sales process, procurement process or maybe your onboarding process?
When I refer to becoming a process driven thinker, this transcends your strategy. Now, we’re focusing on who the person is, not just what they do. We shift our attention to examine each individual’s internal wiring; their personal operating system, and how they think.
Beliefs precede experiences. Ask practically any manager who struggles to come up with the ‘perfect’ coaching question; the one they hope causes a breakthrough. In order to more intuitively craft better questions, it begins with how you think.
Coach the How, Not the What
When you coach, you don’t coach the result. You coach the person, you coach the process and you coach the how. Unfortunately, because most managers are conditioned to generate results, hit their numbers and achieve business objectives, it’s this line of thinking that, in turn, kicks out result driven questions.
When you change your thinking to be more process focused, it changes the questions you ask.
Are you a result driven thinker? Let’s check. If you are, these are the questions that managers would typically ask their sales team.
- What are your numbers?
- How many calls did you make today?
- How many appointments do you have this week?
- What’s currently in your pipeline?
- Is your forecast accurate?
- What’s the current status on the big deal you were working on?
- Are you going to make your quota?
- Did you try…… (calling the decision maker, dropping price, qualifying better, delivering your value proposition, calling the help desk, and so on.)
Now, are the answers to these questions important? Of course they are! However, if you’re only focused on asking result driven questions, then you’re only having half of a conversation. Managers continually miss the area where their coaching can have the greatest impact on changing behavior and creating better solutions. That is, focusing on the how, the process and most important, the message your salespeople deliver to your prospects and customers.
What’s the How?
So, what could it sound like if you were to become more of a process driven thinker compared to someone who is strictly a result driven thinker? If you are someone who is more of a process driven thinker, you would ask the following types of questions.
- Walk me through the conversation you recently had with that customer?
- How did you respond when the customer said that pricing was an issue?
- How have you handled a similar situation before?
- What steps can you take to resolve this?
- What will your message sound like the next time you run into a situation like this?
- What do you need to know about every prospect and customer you work with?
- What questions do you typically ask that give you the information you need when qualifying an opportunity?
- If I wasn’t here, in your opinion, how would you move forward here?
Listen for the How
Think about these two sets of questions. Are you focused solely on the result or are you also mindful of the process? And you don’t coach the result, you coach the process, remember?
Before you start freaking out, I didn’t say that you have to abandon your result driven mindset. I’m suggesting how essential it is to balance this out and become more of a process or “How” driven thinker. That’s the internal shift. Once you shift your thinking around this, you’ll notice how much easier it is to focus on the conversation and what you’re hearing, rather than pushing for your desired outcome, trying to solve the problem or offer a solution you feel would work best. You’ll also find that the right questions to ask will show up naturally, rather than pushing to find them.
Consider your A, B and C players. It’s not what they do that places them in a certain rank but how they go about doing it.
This applies to every sales leader as well as every world class athlete. Whether you’re playing a sport or running a race; you are mindful of winning but it’s your form that gets you there.
Photo Credit: Jason Merrick