Sales people tend to be incredibly goal oriented. We are focused on hitting our numbers–our performance, often our compensation is based on whether we are hitting our numbers.

As a result, we and our managers are intensely focused. We measure ourselves based on quota attainment. We focus on getting the PO, getting the order so that we achieve our goals.

Somewhat incredibly, sales people go to customers saying, “I need your order this month to hit my goals…..” Usually that’s accompanied with, “If you do, I’ll give you a discount.”

The problem is, it’s not the customer’s job to help us meet our goals. The only way we make our goals is through helping our customers achieve theirs. If our customers aren’t accomplishing what they want to accomplish, we will not/should not be expecting an order.

This seems so obvious, but somehow too many sales people miss this. Companies don’t buy to help us achieve our goals. They buy to help achieve their goals.

But I sit through deal reviews, sales people focus on what they are trying to achieve. When I ask the question, “What are they trying to achieve? What happens if they don’t achieve that,” I get blank stares.

The conversation always shifts to, “What can we do to get the order?” Sales people and managers look at convoluted strategies, “Can we offer an incentive? How do we light a fire under them? What can we do to get them to buy?”

But the conversation never gets to, “How do we help them achieve their goals? What’s standing in the ways of them achieving what they want to achieve?”

Call me silly, but I wonder how much more effective we might be if, rather than focusing on our goals, we focused on helping the customer achieve theirs. And through that, we achieve ours.