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Using Verifiable Outcomes: In the Sales Process to Change and Track Behaviors

The use of verifiable outcomes has become more widely adopted by companies engaged in complex sales. These measures provide visibility into the sales process, pipeline performance, and forecasting. The problem, however, is that most of these verifiable outcomes are lagging indicators of past performance, not leading indicators of future achievement.

Richardson has adopted a more predictive approach to verifiable outcomes that can create an enduring and systemic impact on business results. Because our primary focus is on changing behaviors to achieve desired outcomes, we have differentiated ourselves by helping customers identify and use verifiable outcomes that are leading indicators of customer engagement.

What is a Verifiable Outcome?

In our sales process mapping workshops, we begin by reviewing and challenging our clients’ existing best practices. These have been gathered in interviews with key client stakeholders, including top performers in the field.The process is straightforward and usually yields little debate and early agreement on what “good” looks like for the client.

Then, we challenge the workshop participants to identify a small number of leading indicators that can provide immediate visibility to sales managers of the status, quality, and confidence in an opportunity in the pipeline.

This sounds simple until we establish a few key criteria:

  1. They must be leading, not lagging. A predictive view allows for course corrections if the indicator is below expectations.
  2. They are verifiable. This is evidence, either documented or anecdotal, that informs the sales manager whether or not the indicator has been achieved.
  3. They improve confidence. A positive indicator gives the sales manager confidence that the opportunity is viable and winnable.
  4. Customer reaction is captured. True leading indicators must include some reaction from the customer that either confirms or changes the strategy and course of action for the opportunity.

How do Verifiable Outcomes Change Behavior?

Most of our clients are successful even before they come to Richardson. Their leadership has the vision to see what challenges lie ahead, and they typically set aggressive goals for market share and profitability for their organizations. The challenge we face is to create a sense of urgency for change in today’s increasingly competitive and uncertain markets.

Where companies stumble is in attempting to impose prefabricated one-size-fits-all sales processes, and their associated verifiable outcomes, on their sales organizations only to see little change in behavior. Even worse, the distraction and pushback from the field can stall a slow, healthy improvement, causing a brief but disastrous hiccup in revenue and earnings.

The approach that works best is to enhance existing best practices and pair them with solid, relevant recommendations to create a process that looks native from the outset. By doing the hard work of self-discovery to identify appropriate verifiable outcomes, companies start further down the path of changing behavior to achieve new business outcomes.

Common to any deployment are five key elements necessary to change the behavior of sales professionals:

  1. Measuring and managing adoption rates
  2. Testing the verifiable outcomes relentlessly at the line
  3. Embedding a leadership discipline vertically in the organization
  4. Giving managers tools to coach
  5. Tracking, measuring, and using data

If this looks like change management, it is. While any transformational change of this magnitude should be guided by a proven framework, we’re focusing on a few basic steps and drilling down to a layer of best practices that have proven to be key differentiators for successful organizations.