Focus on the performance, not the result

If I showed you a picture of a beautifully decorated home, as someone in the painting & decorating industry, you would unlikely be overly interested in the actual result, but more in the processes and how that result was achieved.

In the same way, results from sales and marketing activity often tell us very little.

If you say to me ‘I had 5 enquiries today’, then I would say that is a great result.

However, if you couldn’t tell me exactly how and why you got those enquiries then you are in trouble.

As it means you don’t know exactly how to replicate your efforts and get 5 more.

To improve our sales and marketing results, we must first understand the performance and focus on that.

Imagine for a minute that we want to receive 10 enquiries a day. This is the result we are looking for. 

Now let’s imagine this result is a cake. (Yes, bear with me on this)

To get 10 enquiries a day you need a strategy.

To bake a cake, you need a recipe.

Strategy = recipe.

The first thing we need to work out is the ingredients for our ‘cake’

Now, instead of eggs, flour etc we will be using the following:

Social media, leaflets, word of mouth, referrals, website, email marketing, Google ads etc.

However, the ingredients alone won’t do us much good. You need to know the amounts.

This is where we really start to measure the performance.

Firstly, you need to record which ingredients you use each time you bake the cake and you also need to record what quantities you use. Then you record the result, tweak it and try again.

So, for us, we might try 4 hours of Facebook per week, 50 emails a day and a local leaflet drop to 100 houses.

This might give us 3 enquiries a day.

Good. But not the delicious cake we were looking for.

So, we tweak the recipe / strategy.

We try 4 hours of Facebook, 2 hours of Instagram, 2 hours of Twitter, 25 emails a day and a local leaflet drop to 100 houses.

5 enquiries a day! Even better cake! Plus, we have established that more social media makes the cake taste better than lots of emails each day. The performance of our social media activity directly affects the result we get (number of enquiries). Improve the performance. Improve the result.

In the same way it would be nearly impossible for me to effectively improve the taste of a cake by only looking at the end result (and not establishing the recipe). It is almost impossible to improve your results in sales and marketing if you don’t measure the performance.

One more example / analogy

Let’s say you have been persistently trying (and failing) to get your children to school on time.

Now, purely focusing on getting them to the school gates on time won’t do much good.

You need to break down the performance, establish key areas for improvement and systematically work on them.

Focus on the performance and the result will take care of itself.

So, let’s break down and review the performances with what we know.

  • On average we arrive at school 5 minutes late.
  • On average we get out of bed at 0730.
  • The children typically mess about more when eating cereal. It takes them 15 minutes to eat a bowl of cereal, but only 5 minutes to eat toast.
  • On average we spend 5 minutes a day looking for the right books, a hair band, favourite toy etc.
  • Riding the scooter to school means they get distracted less than when they walk. This saves an average of 4 minutes on the journey time.

Now we have reviewed the performance, we have some very useful data.

We no longer stand at the school gates saying ‘I just can’t get them out the door and to school on time!?’ having no idea on how to change the situation.

Now we can start to systematically work on areas of performance we can measure and start to change them.

We experiment with different breakfast options to find the healthiest option that doesn’t take too long to eat. We spend 5 minutes the night before making sure everything is packed and ready for the morning, or we experiment getting up slightly earlier and see how they react!

The point is, when we start to focus on the areas of performance, rather than the actual result. It makes it a lot easier to improve.

Practical advice you can implement to your business:

  • Establish what your business looks like today. Make a note of how many enquiries you get on average per day/week. How many followers you have on social media. Where your last 20 enquiries have come from. What your conversion rate is like (enquiries that turned into work) and so on.
  • Make sure any marketing you do from now on is an active decision; has a purpose, can be measured and reviewed. For example: Instead of aimlessly spending a few minutes here and there on social media. Set yourself strict tasks that you can measure. For example, post new content 5 times per week, comment on other people’s posts 5 times per day, follow 10 new people per day. Next time you do a leaflet drop. Measure and record the effect it has on your average enquiries per day. See what happens if you call 5 existing customers per week and ask for either a recommendation or a referral. Measure the results!
  • Find someone who is already being successful in your sector and see if you can learn from their strategies
  • Every time your business gets a ‘result’ (whether good, bad or in between) take time to ask yourself the following 3 questions.

Where did we perform well?

Where could we have performed better?

What will we do differently next time?

Whether it’s trying to improve your customer service ratings, baking a cake or trying to get the children to school on time, focus on each area of the performance, not the result.

Oh, and one final point. Doing all of your marketing via one avenue is like using nothing but eggs to make a cake.

Sure, you’ll get something edible…but if you want a delicious cake, you need to use a variety of ingredients, in just the right quantities.

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