I wrote, The Number Are, Well, Just Numbers. It stirred up a lot of discussion and one observation from Gordon Hogg, was both amusing and illuminating:
“It’s the Cobra Effect! India’s colonial governor put a bounty on cobras to stop snake bites. Dead cobras came in but snake bites persisted. People started breeding cobras to kill for the bounty.”
I don’t know it it’s a true story, but it points out the unintended consequences of some of the metrics we put in place. We have to think about, “What behaviors are we driving–are those the behaviors we really want to drive?”Kamik Ladies Ladies Nice Nice 艩ed谩 Boot 艩ed谩 cbbfd3e
Too often, we blindly put in place numbers, without understanding how our people will achieve the numbers. Any sales person will try to figure these out–often gaming the system.
For example, a client thought: “If we do more proposals, we’ll close more deals.” He put in place a metric for the number of proposals the sales people needed to do. In could make sense, the logic being, the more opportunities we compete in, the more deals we have the opportunity to win, even if we win the same share (It’s the more times at bat argument.)
The problem was, sales people couldn’t find enough qualified deals to make their proposal goal. But under pressure to make the goal, they started sending out unsolicited proposals to prospects. Pretty soon, all the sales people were making the weekly proposal goal, but the business results weren’t improving.
The answer was, the manager thought, “More proposals…..” You know what happened.
Or the weekly/daily telephone calls goal. Another client had a goal in place. Over time, the people started achieving the daily call goal, but the results (booking more meetings) weren’t being achieved. Again, management, wasn’t looking at the underlying issues—what behaviors were they driving, were those the behaviors they wanted to drive, would they produce the outcomes necessary, if not, why not, was there another metric that would be more effective to drive the outcomes needed…..
Or the pipeline coverage model—We know if the win rate is 33%, our pipelines have to have 3 times the number of opportunities necessary to make the number. When people are struggling to make their numbers, often, managers react—“You need more in the pipeline, you need 4X, 5X, 6X…. coverage!” But the results don’t improve. What happens is sales people driven to get the coverage, cast wider nets, they get more into their pipelines, but the quality is poorer, as a result the win rates decline, pipeline coverage demands increase, ….. and the organization is in a death spiral because managers are fixated on a metric but not understanding the behaviors the metric drives, or whether it’s even the right metric in the first place.
Number and metrics are important. But we can’t implement them blindly. We have to assess the behaviors they will drive, the outcomes they create, whether we are measuring the right things, or the “what’s, why’s, how’s” of what we are measuring.
Business people, particularly sales, are obsessed with numbers. We measure everything, we scorecard everything.
Revenue, orders, growth, margin, share, performance against plan, performance against prior periods, pipeline metrics, calls made, meetings held, demos conducted, proposals submitted, wins/losses, expenses/budget, CPOD, people hired, turnover (voluntary/involuntary), performance in customers (e.g. major accounts), performance in market sectors, performance by product line, performance in geographic region/territory, customer satisfaction/NPS, customer acquisition cost, new customer acquisition, retention, churn, renewal, open rates, click throughs, forwards, bounce rates……
Differing segments have specialized terminology for many of these metrics. For example XaaS oriented businesses have a propensity to endless acronyms measuring the same things as above. It should be no surprise from a segment that defines itself by an acronym, that metrics are acronyms, including ARR, LTV, CLV, CAC, Arpu, and on an on–you get the point.
Marketing creates a language of their own, usually accompanied by the appropriate acronyms, as wel–MQL, SAL, ABCD (OK, I made that up).
Numbers are important, they provide an indicator of progress, or lack of progress, toward a goal.
But numbers are just numbers.
And we run into problems when managers just manage to the numbers—which is what too many managers do.
“You are behind on quota performance, you have to sell more…”
“You have to make more calls, demos, meetings, proposals…”
“You have to have more pipeline coverage….”
“You must increase your activity levels….”
The problem with numbers is, they are just numbers.
They are indicators, they may draw our attention to something that’s going right, something that’s going wrong, or the progress we are making toward a goal.
They don’t give us much more insight into why the numbers are what they are. They don’t tell us why we may or may not be making our revenue/quota/margin goals, why we aren’t having enough customer meetings, why our activity levels are not where they should be, or whether the activities are producing what we expect them to be producing.
I worry about managers who proudly focus on “Managing to the numbers.” They will always fail—or at least underperform those who seek to understand what the numbers mean.
Yet, that’s just what most managers do–they manage to the numbers.
Recently, I spoke to a senior manager who had set a “proposal goal” for all his sales people—“You have to present X proposals per week.” I started asking, “Why did you choose X, should it be Y or Z? Are X proposals a week producing the outcomes you want? Are the quality of the proposals at the level you expect? Are proposals even the most important thing do achieving your other goals? and on and on….”
He was confused by my questions, he frankly didn’t have much patience for my questions. He tried to dismiss them, “I know proposals are necessary to produce orders.” When I produced data showing the average trend in revenue per proposal was declining precipitously, his reaction was, “I have to up the proposal goal by 50%….”
Instead he should have asked questions like, “What’s happening, why is it happening, what are the causes of this, what might we do differently…..?”
We don’t understand performance problems by managing to the numbers. Yet that’s just what too many managers do, they live in a volume and velocity world, where the answer to bad numbers is “Do more, faster.”
This is, primarily, a management problem–starting at the top of the management food chain.
We have to stop managing to the numbers, but using the numbers to help us understand what is causing them, why, and what we might do to achieve the numbers we want. At all levels, we have to constantly drill down to understand not just the symptoms (the numbers), but what the root causes are. We have to ask the 5 Why’s. We have to assess what we might change and why. We have to understand cause/effect. We have to ask ourselves whether we should be doing things differently.
We have to ask ourselves if we are even looking at the right numbers in the right way.
It starts with management, but is not just a management issue. Each of us has to look at our own performance. Are we achieving what we should, if we aren’t why aren’t we, what might we do differently. If our calls aren’t producing the results we expect, we need to examine who we are calling, how we are engaging, what we should be doing differently–our managers can help us, but it’s our own job to figure this out and to fix this. At least if you want to be a sales professional-a high performer, you must always be assessing your own performance and improving.
Numbers are important and will always be. But they are just indicators, they are signs we see on our journey, they help us understand our progress.
The most important thing about numbers is they should cause us to ask questions and probe.
Afterword: Imagine applying the same analytic approach to your customer and their numbers. Like us, too often they fail to probe and understand what underlies the numbers, whether they are looking at the right things, or whether they can improve their numbers.
Yeah, I know what the immediate reaction to the title of this post will be…..
“But Dave, we’re slaves to our managers and our companies………!”LabatoStyle Mu啪i 沤eny Vodot臎sn茅 zimn铆 sn臎hov茅 boty Pl谩拧t臎 lemovan茅 byty Plo拧inov茅 boty na tenisky 膶erven茅 v铆no Danker p谩nsk谩 kapsa Wolf Creek Chukka Falcon Grey p臎拧铆 turistika Falcon Grey FRYE D谩msk茅 boty Samantha Hiker Combat 膶ern谩 Mavirs Knee High Boty, d谩msk茅 Zaoblen茅 stehno Vysoko nad kolenem Boty Stretch Suede Ploch媒 podpatku vysok媒 Boty Taupe-3cm Abilene P谩nsk谩 s谩ga s h谩膷kem - 3012 Hn臎d媒 Laredo p谩nsk茅 Pinehurst z谩padn铆 boty Hn臎d媒 Seychely 啪ensk谩 st谩da boot P铆sek Lauren Ralph Lauren D谩msk茅 boty Quinly Jasn臎 膷erven谩 / 膷ern谩 , Hunter Women s Original Tall Flecktarn Camo Mid-Calf gumov谩 de拧tovka Pale p铆sek Nine z谩padn铆 啪eny Queddy suede p艡es kotn铆k boot Hn臎d媒 , Journee kolekce d谩msk茅 Pravideln茅 a 拧irok茅 t臎lo Faux krajky-up p艡es kolena boty 膶ern谩 , Pod zrcadlov媒mi 啪enami Speedform AMP 2.0 B铆l媒 (105) / tropick媒 p艡铆liv Reebok p谩nsk茅 legacylifter B铆l谩 / 膶ern谩 / C铆nov谩 NIKE p谩nsk茅 lun谩rn铆 Fingertrap k艡铆啪ov媒 tren茅r 膶ern谩 / b铆l谩 - 膷ern谩 , IDIFU D谩msk茅 sexy h艡ebenov茅 vysok茅 podpatky Full Zip Up Faux Suede jezdeck茅 vysok茅 boty 膶erven茅 v铆no , DREAM PAIRS D谩msk茅 koleno vysok茅 boty (拧irok媒 Calf k dispozici) Camel Pu , Softswalk 啪ensk媒 Hollis Flat 膶ern谩 Naturalizer 沤ensk谩 Samantha 拧pi膷at谩 拧pi膷ka Taupe , Zoulee d谩msk茅 kv臎tinov茅 vzory ploch茅 拧艌暖rky na ko啪en茅 mate艡sk茅 boty Modr媒 , Dr. Comfort Winner Plus P谩nsk茅 terapeutick茅 diabetick茅 extra hlubok茅 boty ko啪en茅 krajky 膶ern谩 Cole Haan D谩msk谩 obuv Zerogrand Hikr 艩ed谩 vodot臎sn谩 nubuk-argento-slonov谩 kost Salabobo AQQJ-7007 D谩msk茅 boty Latinsk茅 tango Ballroom Party Wedding Block P谩nsk茅 boty PU Dance-Shoes TDA D谩msk媒 vysok媒 podpatek Kv臎tinov媒 Satin Salsa Tango Tane膷n铆 s谩l Latinsk茅 modern铆 tane膷n铆 svatebn铆 obuv Vans Unisex Star茅 boty Skool Classic Skate Sle膹ov谩 k暖啪e 膶ern谩 prav谩 b铆l谩 Re: Zero za膷铆n谩 啪ivot v jin茅m sv臎t臎 Cosplay boty Canvas boty tenisky 膷ern茅 / b铆l茅 2 B铆l谩 1 Under Armour Men s Ignite CC Heather V Slide 膶ern谩 (002) / 膶erven谩 , Speedo D谩msk茅 boty na vodu 艩ed谩 / neonov谩 r暖啪ov谩 Rychl茅 such茅 vodn铆 boty Lehk茅 aqua pono啪ky pro pl谩啪ov媒 baz茅n Surf j贸ga cvi膷en铆 pro mu啪e 啪eny Energie oran啪ov谩 Vodn铆 boty P谩nsk茅 D谩msk茅 plaveck茅 plav谩n铆 Boty rychl茅 su拧en铆 Aqua pono啪ky baz茅n Boty pro surfov谩n铆 J贸ga vodn铆 aerobik Fivefingers - modr媒 Diamond , Dexter Kerrie Bowling boty 艩ed媒 kep艡 ,
I get it, I’m talking about something different, but if your managers are treating you like slaves, gently remind them the Emancipation Proclamation was put into effect on January 1, 1863 (for non US readers, I’ll have to do some research).
What I’m focusing on is the application of the principles of Servant Leadership to our how we work with our customers.
Underlying the concept of servant or transformational leadership are roughly 10 principles:
But what if we examined the principles of servant leadership as applied to selling?
The Servant Sales Person creates superior value with their customers. The Servant Sales Person creates superior value with their colleagues and within their organization.
The principles of Servant Leadership are also fundamentals to becoming a high performance sales person.
Oh, and by the way, you may want to drop a copy of this on your manager’s desk. Perhaps, they’ll think of their role in being servant leaders to their teams 😉
Imagine you have an appointment with your ideal customer. The only constraint is that you can’t talk about your product.
Could you make the call? What would it look like?
I suppose you could talk about the weather, exchange chit chat about the World Cup, perhaps the latest baseball games or cricket matches.
But that wouldn’t be very satisfying to you or the customer. It probably would be a very short meeting, because your ideal customer probably doesn’t like to have her time wasted.
What could you possible talk about that would be a good use of the customer’s time?
A good start would be to talk about what the customer is most interested in talking about.
But you’d be wasting your time, and possibly be unqualified if you just spoke about any topic your customer is interested in.
You’d have to harness the discussion to talk about challenges they have about the problems you are the best in the world about solving.
But you’d be forced to talk about it from their perspective–not pitching your product features, functions, feeds, and speeds.
You’d be forced to get the customer to talk about the issues and how it impacts them and their organization. You’d have to drill down asking them to define the issues specifically. You’d probably then ask them how it impacts them. You’d immediately get into how important the issue is in the scheme of things.
You might then guide the discussion to what they’d like to change, when, and why. You’d probably follow that up by asking their goals or “what would it look like if that problem/challenge were eliminated?”
You might help them realize there might be different ways to look at or think about the issues. Or you might help them understand they may be overlooking important aspects about the problem or things to consider as they look to eliminating the problem. These, of course, wouldn’t be product/solution capabilities, these would be change and risk management issues.
Through the conversation, you would help the customer shape their thinking about their urgency in addressing the issues, the impact they of the change, you’d help them create a vision of a future state where they be moving past the problem, addressing new opportunities.
Properly executed, by the end of the meeting, the customer will be left with one question.
“How can you help me do this?”
It’s only then that your solution is relevant–in fact critical to them. At that point they will be hungry to learn how you can help them.
Think about your next critical meeting with a customer. Imagine what that meeting would look like without ever mentioning your products. Even if the customer asks you, don’t give into the temptation, shift the conversation away from the product, focusing on the customer. Develop your call plan, then execute it.
Magic happens when you do this.
This is Dave Brock's Blog. It offers my views on a variety of business, sales, marketing, and leadership topic. My goal is to make a difference for you, the reader, in both your professional and personal lives.
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