Danica Patrick likes to win. Who doesn’t? But she can’t get into winning position by just thinking winning. She has to train and think about all the things it takes to win at auto racing—how to pass at high speeds, how to keep control around tight corners, and how to stay calm under pressure. It seems counterintuitive that you could actually win more (in sports, life, or business) by focusing less on the win, but it’s true. Let me explain. Coach Bill Walsh (named the second greatest coach in NFL history by ESPN) celebrated every well-executed play, whether or not that play resulted in a score or a win. To him, it didn’t matter if the play was unsuccessful in its results as much as that it was successful in its execution. Because of his sincere love and respect for the game of football, Walsh focused on training his team to play with precision. On the other hand, a “successful” play, executed sloppily, earned his correction.
It’s the same the people selling cars day after day. The more we focus on the “win” (or sale), the more stressful and less productive the environment becomes. But if we shift our mindset toward disciplined execution of winning plays (an exceptional sales process), we will win more often and with less stress.
Highly disciplined execution of plays (in other words, perfecting each part of the sales process) doesn’t just happen. On an individual level, it requires people to be in constant pursuit of their personal best while maintaining a long-term vision. Focusing less on the win isn’t about lowering the standard, it’s about reaching toward the goals in each moment without getting stressed about the short-term ones. Bill Walsh liked to practice so hard that the plays became instinct. In the sales department, a “play” might be closing someone on the value of the a particular upgrade or convincing customers that your vehicle is the best available option. These “plays” may or may not lead to someone signing on the dotted line, which is beyond the salesperson’s control.
Spending all your focus on the desired end result will make it hard to admit when the intended results don’t happen. Knowing you made a mistake is one thing, but thinking you are the mistake is a recipe for burnout. The more you focus on results, the more you panic and the harder it is to “play loose” and do your job well.
Rather than feeling bad about the loss of a sale, you must focus on improving your understanding and execution of winning plays/behaviors. Where shame exists, confidence does not. And without confidence, salespeople just can’t sell to their full ability. Lack of confidence also removes the freedom to share new ideas or even to fail in pursuit of a goal. If you take this new approach that focuses less on the results more on the play, you’ll not only ”win” and garner success more consistently, but you’ll do it with integrity.