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Boosting Sales: Actions, Not Outcomes

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
2 min read

Why are some people extremely successful, and others fall short?

It’s a question I’ve asked many times. Looking at competitive sport is a good place to find an answer because there’s little difference in athletic ability at the top.

John Wooden, the famous college basketball coach at UCLA, didn’t teach his team to win. He took an entirely different approach. He taught his team an approach and discipline.

My favorite story from is that he taught his basketball players – some of the best in the country – how to put their socks on correctly. The lesson lasted 20 minutes and was the kickoff of each season.

Why sweat the details? Because details matter. Process matters. If you’re not going to do something as small as put your socks on correctly, how are you going to beat the best teams in the nation?

Bill Walsh, the coach of the 49ers dynasty in the 80s, did something similar. Here’s a passage from his book The Score Takes Care of Itself:

Passing routes were designed down to the inch and then practiced until receivers learned how to be at that exact inch at the exact moment the ball arrived. On paper my diagrams of plays resembled detailed architectural drawings. And they required the same exactness in construction—execution—that a good contractor brings to building a skyscraper. If he’s sloppy in following the architectural schematic, the building falls down during the first stiff wind.

Are you noticing a theme? Rather than focusing on the desired outcome – winning – these coaches focused on the factors that would most likely lead to victory. The reason is simple: you have very little control over winning and losing. Other players may be better, the referees may get involved, injuries and illness may befall the team.

What they could control, though, was the preparation taken before the game. The way they practiced was of paramount importance. If a game is full of variables that you can’t control, practice is the time for repetition and exactness. And if their players took the right actions, they were much more likely to win.

This is the key to achieving more sales in your business. If you take the right actions – especially the right actions taken the right way – you dramatically increase your chances of success. But is success guaranteed? Of course not, but it’s a good bet.

Focus on the inputs to increase the likelihood of achieving the outputs you want. Success will follow.

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