I’ll be the first to admit that on a literal, unbiased, hard-statistical mathematical-formula basis, sales is a numbers game.

((X number of calls x Y contact rate = Z prospects) x (A closing rate) = B # of closes)) x C dollar value per close = D Total $Dollars.

Here’s the problem: the very sentiment of turning a process that involves people–with our flaws and foibles, our dreams and despairs, our challenges and opportunities, our cultures and world-views–into an algebraic equation reeks of the “old guard” sales mentality that so desperately needs to die.

Break down the phrase itself: you’re turning “people” into “numbers,” and treating one of Western society’s most sacred individual rights–the ability to pursue our own happiness and satisfaction in a career of our choosing–as a “game.”

Treating sales like a “game” is inherently self-oriented. It completely removes the other humans from the process.

There are obviously great sales people in every industry, but too often “Sales is a numbers game” is used as either a mental crutch to simply get through another batch of prospecting calls, or a self-delusion when pipeline is low. Hitting numbers without engaging in the real process of making a difference in prospects’ lives and business isn’t sales, it’s a pathology of manipulation.

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