I was recently in a conversation with an HR Director from an international organisation that was having challenges with the performance of their sales team, nothing new here.
I asked some fairly straightforward questions with regards to what it was about their performance that wasn’t good enough, how they approached their job, how they were remunerated, what level of training they provided etc….etc…etc….
Mostly I got fairly monosyllabic answers : they can’t do this & they should do that – the disrespect and disdain was palpable; again, nothing new here. Been there done that.
The discussion (or lecture) continued and I asked what the sales people were measured on – it was like a light switched on and the HR Director got a little more animated and excited …”we measure everything…. how many phone calls they make, to whom, for how long, who are they calling, where are these people in the pipeline, what are their conversion rates, what is revenue / profit margin…by product, sector, customer, geography” the list went on and on.
A little further into the conversation I asked what the organisation’s employee turnover was…. to which the response was “…. Oh we don’t measure that but so and so has been here a year and him two years and her two as well…….”. As HR Director I’d have thought it would be a critical measure.
My problem and my experience is twofold:
In a paper by the Miller Heiman Group titled “Why you’re measuring too much?” Donna Walker says that businesses need to simplify what they are looking for or risk overwhelming sales teams. She advises to pick 3 – 5 measures around “leading” NOT “lagging” indicators. Statistics from a recent survey were that 45% of sales performance metrics were aligned with overall company objectives. In world class organisations the number is 93%.
In one of my previous lives, my sales team had 27 different measures …. 27… The company was measuring / administrating themselves to a standstill. It is a lot like trying to herd cats or, as Confucius says “ if you give someone two rabbits to chase they will catch neither…”.
The other “interesting” aspect of this is that whilst HR (in this case) were happy to put measures on other parts of the business they were not necessarily concerned about a fundamental metric associated with their area of responsibility / accountability.
The company I mentioned above were looking for their third National Sales Manager in four years. I smell a problem.
In a study by Deloitte Access, they recently reported:
Australian companies are drowning in their own red tape, wasting valuable hours of employee time and costing the economy billions of dollars. Red tape in both Australia's public and private sectors,indicates regulations imposed by:
It is critical for businesses to decide on what is important and put measures in place to support their teams to achieve their objectives. This will ensure that they not only survive but also succeed because they know what they need to do and have the tools to get themselves there.
Perhaps it is better to follow the advice from @Christina Guidotti (Partner of Thought Leaders Global) “…..to be more productive, focus only on the things that matter.”