Episode TwoHundredThirtyOne

To Drive Results, Focus on Performance

Guest: Steve McKenzie, VP of Sales at Mimecast

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About This Episode

We feel the pressure to drive results.

But performance, not results, is what we should obsess about.

I recently had the chance to ask Steve McKenzie, VP of Sales at Mimecast, all about sales leadership and what it takes to be successful.

Steve has lived on 3 continents and says that belonging to Mimecast feels like family. 

We started off our conversation by talking about driving results.

“I’d like to think I have a history of driving results,” Steve said. “Ultimately, that’s what we’re in the game of doing.”

Performance, not results

Our world is obsessed by results — by measuring leaders and individual contributors in terms of their ability to hit their number.

Steve was inspired by a talk from Sir Matthew Pinsent, a 4-time Olympic gold medalist, about performance vs. results.

Steve adopted the Olympian rowers’ methods into the business world. Here’s how:

“Rather than obsessing over the results themselves, we should focus and obsess over the performance,” Steve said.

Performance = doing the things you need to do to get the results that you want.

Results = merely a byproduct of performance.

If you focus exclusively on performance, then your scoreboard (your numbers) will reflect that.

Quick caveat: Once you determine your performance metrics and execute the plan, you will continually need to pivot, re-execute, and measure. 

3 performance measurements for sales

“Think about the leader you want to become, and then act like that leader,” Steve said.

Before you can be measured as a leader, you need to determine how you will be measured as an individual.

Steve named 3 areas to center your performance improvement plan around.

  • Activities
  • Skills
  • Attitude

Let’s dive into each one.


A good rule of thumb for activities is to weigh a “good” week” versus a “normal” week to see what you are spending your time on.

If you could be in complete control of your time, what activities would you do and for how long in order to fulfill your role?

Figuring out what activities contribute and what are distractions will help you start to see what your essential tasks are.

“If I’m being held accountable and judged by the ability to drive business, these are some of the non negotiables that I’ve got to make time for,” Steve said. 


Skills are directly related to what you do, the context in which you operate within the ecosystem. 

Especially in sales, the landscape changes so quickly that you have to be ever-evolving.

“When you’re running at 100 miles an hour being pulled in 1,000 directions, it’s quite hard to stop and think, ‘Where am I in relation to my plan?’” Steve said.

Steve suggested noticing someone in your company who is really good at skills you want to develop and asking for advice.


Attitude refers to what you ask yourself when you look in the mirror.

  • Do I want to be in this role in this company? 
  • Am I happy? 
  • Am I motivated? 
  • Am I inspired?

“Work with your leaders and your mentors to figure out, ‘Where am I mentally?’” Steve suggested.

I asked Steve what skills he personally is developing right now.

#1 — “Assimilating into a business as a leader when you’re 100% virtual is quite tough,” he said.

Steve has been trying to resist the temptation to spend too much time on forecasting. He aims for 5-10% of the quarter, but not more.

#2 — “The beginning of the day is all about me,” he said.

Steve blocks out 7:30-8:00 a.m. to set himself up for the day by figuring out what is and isn’t a priority based on his dashboards. (Although, he admits that keeping this time just  for goal setting is a challenge.)

A philosophy of losing

When you drive results, you don’t always win.

“Think about not a win and a loss but a win and a learn. Just change the words,” Steve said.

This is the heart of his philosophy on losing. He’ll be the first to admit that he hates to lose, but he loves to learn.

“I don’t learn a hell of a lot from my wins. I learn so much more from my losses,” he said.

Those hard pieces, the deals you lose — these are the best opportunities to learn. But that learning can only occur if you take the time to reflect.

With the benefit of hindsight, what could I have done differently to change the outcome of that engagement? 

“We live as salespeople in this world of rejection,” Steve said.

A very real survival mechanism is not to reflect on losses but to gloss them over so that our competence isn’t compromised.

“If we allow ourselves to be a little bit more vulnerable and take a continuous learning approach, I think that we will win even more,” Steve said.

Get in touch with Steve about obsessing over performance, not results, on LinkedIn.

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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