Let’s say there’s a sales guy, working in a sales function in a sales-driven organization.
His company was acquired by a group of investors who are systematically changing the way business is being done. They have metrics for everything and statistics drive every decision.
Our sales guy has been the top producer for many years. He has deep customer relationships and generates significant repeat business.
But you can’t benchmark relationships, so the powers that be decide he must have lucked into a rich sales territory and proceed to carve it up to spread the wealth. They parcel his clients out to the rest of the sales team, leaving our sales guy with a severely diminished book.
Oh, and a mandate to make 35 calls each day.
Off the record, his boss says that it doesn’t matter if the calls are to qualified prospects or not – all the bean counters want to know is that the calls are being made because they have forms to be filled out.
Six months go by.
Sales are way off.
Repeat business is non-existent.
And our sales guy has found another job.
Because he knows that his strongest suit – his true superpower – is the ability to create relationships, and the bean counters who value quantity over quality simply don’t get it.
He knows that he can make one call and generate as much business in fifteen minutes as two other guys could get in a week. How? Because his clients know him, like him and have years of experience working with him – they trust him.
Some of his customers like him better than they like his product – what he sells is less important than how he sells to them. Which is why the guy is going to be successful wherever he goes.
If I were in charge of a sales organization, I’d hire a hundred people with the ability to generate referral business rather than hire a thousand robo-callers.
Because quality always wins out over quantity.
But maybe that’s just me.
Today it seems that so many organizations want their people to be as uniform and interchangeable as widgets.
As if one sales guy is absolutely equal to another sales guy.
That one teacher is as good as any other teacher.
That a 60-year-old surgeon who’s done a thousand procedures is absolutely equivalent to a 30-year-old surgeon who’s so desperate for business that she’s willing to deeply discount her fee to get people in the door.
I don’t think so.
Sure, it’s comforting to think that if you check off all the boxes then you’re less likely to fail. Does our health plan provide access to a surgeon? Check - yes. The question so few ask: Is that surgeon any good?
Quantity is: We have a 20-person sales team making 35 cold calls every day. Quality is: Are they talking to the right people? Are they taking time to build relationships? To build trust?
There’s not a box to check next to those quality questions because they’re rarely being asked.
It’s likely that you have quantity/quality decisions to make every day in your own life. And all I ask is that you keep a few things in mind:
It’s not the number of brownies you make that’s important, especially if they taste awful. Make good, quality brownies and let that be enough.
It’s not the number of bills you have in your wallet, especially if they are all ones. If you want to sit down, it’s better to have five $100 bills in your back pocket than 250 singles.
It’s not important that you have a whole lot of friends, especially if you have no one to call for help in the middle of the night.
When it comes down to it, real success comes from the things that cannot be quantified – connection, relationship, kindness, appreciation, trust.
I don’t know about you, but I want more of those quality things in my life and work, and I’m consciously working on them every day.
I really like the idea of being un-metric-ifiable.