Dictionary.com defines Short-Termism as, “the tendency to focus attention on short-term gains, often at the expense of long-term success or stability.” Now, this form of thinking is nothing new, in fact, it’s likely built into our DNA to help us survive times when resources are extremely scarce. However, we no longer live in a world of extreme scarcity (at least in Western Business), and therefore, the importance of focusing on long-term results over short-term wins has never been more important.
Despite this fact, there seems to be a shift in recent years towards Short-Termism in both culture and business. The extremes in culture present themselves in ridiculous trends like Rooftopping, and the Pass-Out Challenge which are rooted in the need to impress others on social media in exchange for putting ourselves in danger. Unfortunately, business tactics have followed suit as companies increasingly prioritize growth over ethics and morality, in the pursuit of quick profits and speedy exits.
There are countless negative repercussions that come as a result of Short-Term thinking, far more than we can cover in this article. Today, we want to focus on one specific area of short-termism that hurts both long-term AND short-term success… Short-Term Selling.
Short-Term Selling can be summarized by one word… Push. Short-Term Sellers Push their clients to sign contracts that aren’t right for them; Push clients to upgrade when their current agreements are sufficient, and Push clients to move forward expeditiously when taking the appropriate time would serve everyone well. Truthfully, if you have to “Push” your clients and prospects to sign a contract, you A) haven’t found product market fit B) are forcing timing and budgets that aren’t aligned with your client’s needs or C) haven’t done a sufficient job articulating the value proposition of the products or services you’re selling.
I propose replacing the word “push” with the word “Pull” – And there’s a fundamental difference between the two. Visualizing the difference is simple: “You PUSH someone away from you. You PULL someone closer to you” (see figure 1). The goal of sales should be to Pull clients close, ensuring they see the value that you see in the products and services you’re selling. The semantics are important here, in fact, for all the sales managers reading this, we recommend you stop using the word “Push” all-together.
A question that’s helpful in deciphering Long-Term vs Short-Term Selling is asking, “what side of the table am I sitting on?” In an ideal situation, salespeople and prospects should be “sitting on the same side of table” meaning that they’re building the business relationship TOGETHER, coming up with a mutually beneficial arrangement that helps them achieved shared goals. When you’re sitting “across the table” from your prospect, you’re engaging in a zero-sum, short-term game that requires a winner and a loser. If you win (short-termism goal) that means your client loses, and when your clients lose, they never end up being clients for long!
Long-Termism focusses on building true fans; a tribe that believes what you believe and understands the value of what you’re selling. When you’ve established this group and focus on regularly adding value to them, magic starts to happen. Sales cycles drastically reduce, client retention sky-rockets, organic referrals begin to pour in and EVERYBODY WINS.
Thanks for reading!