Had coffee with a former employee who remains at the company where we worked together. It sounds like the company is still a mess, and mired in metrics hell. For example, each Rep has to find 6-8 leads a week, and they are measured on how well the delivery team covers the leads since (in theory) if the lead is good then delivery will do good work on it. This is shocking – the delivery team isn’t doing good work and usually blames the leads, since they don’t really have any accountability (again, if the leads don’t advance it is the rep’s fault).
Meanwhile, there are twice a week meetings where each rep’s leads are reviewed, they are given action items on each lead then questioned about the these items at the next meeting. So there is a perpetual current of stress that begins with the 6-8 leads and runs down sh** creek from there.
Oh my god. What a hell hole, and a sign that the company is run by a former data-obsessesed engineer and not an actual good business person. It makes me veeeerrrrryyyyy glad I don’t work there anymore. How can you possibly be strategic and thorough — and possibly enjoy your job — when you are obsessed all the time about meeting one-size-fits-all metrics developed by people with no common sense? 🙂
My last employer ruled its sales team by metrics. 50 “dials” (I hate that word) a day, 1-2 meetings a day, etc. each and every day. The COO of a billion dollar company looked at these metrics every single day – who is meeting these metrics, who is not? It takes all strategy out of it, and makes the job absolute hell, like working on a factory line but with the added pressure of quota. In good times, this might be okay, since the frenzied buying can hide a lack of strategy, but they have really been suffering this past year. Meanwhile, I am sooooo glad to be out of that hell.
For six months, I worked for possibly the worst employer ever, but one of the worst parts about it was they tracked every phone call, every email, every activity of every day while maintaining impossibly high expectations. What’s worse, is if you made the metrics too many days in a row they’d scrutinize – why did you call this particular phone number 3 times in a row, why did you have more calls at 10 AM then 1 PM, etc. It was brutal, and it was discouraging to the team. Ironically, I am a metrics believer, but not as a measurement tool but to look for trends/strategies while mixing in some common sense. I now work at a place that is human, where they allow you to find your own pace and apply common sense, and it is not only more appreciated but frankly more productive in the long run since turnover is lower and employee satisfaction higher. It will take me some time to shed these past six months, but this week is helping.
Always, always, always I worked hard, but I was focused on long-term results and actual quality revenue generation. The short term, and the volume/quantity and hours worked were irrelevant to me as long as I was getting the results I needed. But the past few years and companies I’ve worked for were soooooo short-term results driven (often at the expense of the long term) and metrics driven, I found myself making a comment today about making sure I put in some hours (versus worrying about results). Yikes!!! I need to change my mindset back to the long-term results, and exorcise the bad habits of recent dysfunctional companies.
In sales, metrics are a very loose guideline, but are not and never should be the end-all. It is money — not metrics — that pays the bills for my employer and for me.
I can see holding Sales Reps accountable to Metrics. And I can see holding them accountable for results. But increasingly, I see them held accountable for both. So a poor Sales Rep is forced to do micro activities that often interfere with their plan, then are fired for a lack of results if those activities don’t produce results. For example, my reps must make a certain number of phone calls, have a certain number of meetings and a certain number of leads — or they are fired. Plus, these have to result in revenue targets — or they are fired. Not to mention the endless number of Corporate conference calls, HQ visits, etc. etc.
It is madness. Why do enforce one or the other? What is the point?
In the 90s, there were fairly well paid data entry clerks who entered data. They were paid pretty well because no one wants to do data entry. Now, they are all gone, and each of us is mired in our data entry hell so some Exec somewhere can stare at an Ad Hoc report. The result is so much of our day is spent entering data into various web forms. Ugh.
It dawned on me yesterday that my sales organization is led by former Aerotek and Robert Half AEs, where data analysis and quantity of numbers is the strategy, not actual thoughtful strategy.
This came to light when I was telling our VP about our expanding circle of influence within some accounts but he bypassed that to focus specificly on the number of opps we’d opened the previous month, which was down 10%. For me, I don’t care about opps – I care about realistic and strategic business I am working to close, since that is what will determine my success not next week, but 6 months from now. But to the leaders of our companies, 9 opps opened instead of 10 means the health of my busines is dropping – the story behind each of the opps is irrelevant.
I like my AEs to have a good Information Gathering meeting with a high-ranking Decision Maker at a large company with budget, then to run with that meeting by following up on hints/leads and obsessing about growing that opportunity. Whether that takes 50 calls per day or 10 meetings a week is irrelevant to me – what is more important is that the AE has the information, a bulleted plan from that information, is executing on that plan, and that my instincts tell me they are doing (and not just saying they are doing) the right things. He/she having 2 meetings with the same mid-level managers they’ve met 100 times before and putting two leads from those meetings in the system isn’t worth a dime to me — unless I believe it is truly a step towards something bigger.
Although my current Sales Leaders want strategic and immediate growth, they are struggling to get out of the day to day statistical analysis – because they all were trained in a place that valued dials and tactics. It is why they aren’t growing, and why there are a number of teams that are meeting their KPIs but not driving sustainable growth.
It is concerning. Largely because I know it will be hard to build a sustainable business if I am not allowed to operate outside the obsession over the day-to-day metrics rather than keeping an eye on the bigger picture.