Never Confuse Activity with Accomplishment

Never Confuse Activity with Accomplishment

There are times in your Sales career when you hear something that really resonates. Salespeople are always borrowing ideas from others, after all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In a meeting one day, I heard this great phrase from a very respected and successful colleague that really made me pause.

“Never Confuse Activity with Accomplishment.”

So often I hear Salespeople and Sales Leaders talk about the importance of lots of activity. You know those conversations that take place where the leader is asking the salesperson about how many sales calls, they made this week. Or the salesperson is telling the leader on their update about all the sales calls they made today. While activity is important, at what cost are you conducting it?

When you start in a new sales role, there is typically a lot to learn about your product, your organization, and your leader. You want to get off to a fast start as you mesh the sales skills you should have been hired for with the product knowledge you need to be able to sell your product. Likely, you have been assigned a sales quota that clings to you like a shirt with static electricity. It can all be a little overwhelming and detrimental for some who end up not making the grade. Sales is after all a high-risk high reward career. Activity that closes zero business is just that, activity. Accomplishment for a salesperson is closing business. Don’t get me wrong, activity is part of closing sales, but the right activity is what is more important. So how will you know that?

I remember going on a sales call with a Senior colleague who asked me to tag along to see a prospect valued in the many millions of dollars for the business. Prior to the sales calls there were e-mail’s back and forth with my colleague’s leader copied and replying with call outs and watch outs for the representative. There were a couple of conference calls to discuss the prospect and to go over logistics for the day. As I was not the lead Salesperson, I asked several questions about the prospects business. The answers I received gave me concerns, but I was assured that we would work it out on the day. Turns out the sales call was short, after a few minutes it was very clear that due to the structure of the company, we would be unable to do business with this prospect. Furthermore, it was unlikely they would ever change their well-established business model just for us. After the call I spent some time to discuss this with the salesperson and indicated to them that to spend any more time with this prospect was a futile exercise. Bewildered, they looked back at me and indicated they could not let it go as it was their largest potential prospect. This my friends is activity.