Tuesday Morning Focal Point

Inputs over Outputs

There are times in business when we must be most concerned about our inputs, and not focus so much on outputs.  That may be true for your business at this time. The current economic climate is prime time to consider your inputs more than your outputs.

Inputs over outputs – example #1

I am reflecting on a strategic hire we made almost two months ago.  We hired someone with excellent skills in the area of customer/client management to help manage a growing waitlist.  When you have potential clients on a waitlist for many months, they need to be well supported, communicated with, etc. We had not been doing that as well as we should have.  Ultimately, our desire would be to serve as many of these clients as possible.

Our new hire has our trust and confidence.  However, a couple of weeks in, she became overwhelmed as she did not feel good about her results in terms of bringing the clients in, making the sale and connecting them with services.  Then of course the Covid-19 reality shows up, complicating everything we all know about business as usual.  This individual was measuring her success in terms of sales. Outputs.  The moment of release for her came when I reminded her and it really sunk in that I don’t care about sales at this time.  I was not measuring her on sales.  Rather, I was measuring her in her inputs.

The inputs I was talking about included:

1. Quality of internal relationships being actively built with team members

2. Initial calls made to communicate with waitlisted clients to know they are still on our radar

3. Updating and refining of systems and processes to handle a growing waitlist to eventually be “managed down.”

Inputs over outputs – example #2

There are times when the inputs are far more important than the outputs. It is only when we put in the right inputs up front that we will get the sales results later.  Too many people see sales and business development as an event, when it is a process.  Anyone can go and get one or two sales. But not everyone develops and trusts the right process that gets multiple sales in the long game.

I am also reflecting on a particular client of mine who I’ve connected with a couple of times in the last few weeks, who is really struggling with business development.  He is saying he is not good at it and doesn’t enjoy it.  I actually don’t agree with him that he is not good at it.  The challenge is, he is looking to put a pelt on the wall tomorrow, and that is not happening.  What I care about most for this client is that he is focusing on the right inputs – the activities we know will ultimately bring increases in business.  We have to know when to trust the process and stick with the process – the inputs.  I fully believe that if he focuses on the right inputs, he will get the outputs.  It will come.

Inputs over outputs – example #3

Yet another client just a few weeks ago had become certain that he was not going to get what looked to be he largest contract of his fiscal year, based on a few bumps in the negotiation.  He felt he really needed this deal, and was getting very discouraged, particularly given the COVID-19 reality.  We paused, stepped back and reviewed process and to his credit he was able to focus on the correct inputs, and trust the process.  As it turns out, while he happened to be in my office just two days ago (and we sat almost 20 feet apart in my office so we were honoring physical distancing), the phone rang and he was awarded the contract.

For some of you, this is not a time to be concerned about outputs i.e. the number of deals you get and actual services you get to deliver or products you get to sell.  You may be being impacted by Covid-19 in such a way that you are not going to get the outputs you are accustomed to or that match your 2020 projections.  Take a breath, and get focused on your inputs.

Cameron’s Call to Action

  1. Recognize and define the inputs your teams need to focus on. For many, as much as outputs will be worth celebrating, you may not be able to measure your overall success by outputs right now.  Recognize the importance of inputs.
  2. Trust your process, and if you are not confident that you have the right process, now is the time to refine it. Your process and inputs are more important than ever, right now.
  3. Remember this…that if your industry has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, your competitors who do not take this opportunity to refine and focus on their inputs, will be less prepared than you once things pick up again in your industry. Focus on inputs and you’ll get the outputs in due time.
  4. TRUST THE PROCESS – had to say it again.

Cameron is an Executive Coach and Consultant specializing in business growth and creating psychologically healthy workplaces.

Read our other blogs written specifically for the current economic crisis


The Rise of the Great Leader in Crisis

Business Owner – Covid-19 is NOT an Economic Crisis

Getting Full Value out of Crisis

A Call for Social Reaching – Skip the Distance