The problem is that no one is accountable … really? Measuring Performance

By Michael Perla on Aug 13, 2012

1 Minute Estimated Read Time

If someone else mentions they have an accountability problem I think I’ll vomit. I hear it ad nauseam.

“No one is held accountable … there are no consequences if you don’t do it.”

I think we all know the million dollar question – “why?”

“What if you did hold them accountable … what would happen?” “Would they leave?”

“Would you be forced to face a situation that is uncomfortable?” “What?”

Generally this sort of conversation leads to what is often the dry topic of Performance Management, which is a critical area, but doesn’t have the best connotation. Many people see performance management as either “rank and yank” schemes or endless “checkbox” performance appraisals that go nowhere and do nothing. I may be a bit harsh, but I’ve heard it often. 

For sales, measuring performance is relatively easy compared to other functions. You’ve either hit your quota or you haven’t … but we know there should be more than that.

 For example, for a seller:

  • How are they doing compared to their colleagues?
  • How are they doing compared to the market?
  • How are they developing as sales professionals in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities?
  • Are they on an upward or downward trend?
  • Do they have the right attitude?

At its simplest, a performance problem is a gap between current results and desired or expected results. A basic premise is that you don’t “do results”, but perform actions (behaviors) to achieve results.

In circling back to accountability, there should be some accountability for both behaviors and results. If a seller works 80 hours a week, but doesn’t hit their number, the sales manager may not care how many hours they put in. But it’s never that simple. For example, does the seller have the right work ethic but is not doing the right activities?

One challenge with performance management is that it’s often after-the-fact or only focused on results. The more recent focus around coaching and development is good and can help to change the trajectory of the results … basically, the law of cause and effect.

If a seller doesn’t target the right accounts, doesn’t get in front of enough people to share their story with, and doesn’t know how to align their solutions to customers’ problems, there is a good chance that the seller won’t hit their number. It’s probabilistic.

The accountability then should come in the drivers as well.

There is a lot more around Performance Management, which I’ll share in other posts, but that’s a start – manage the drivers and monitor the results.

Michael Perla

Written by Michael Perla

Michael Perla is a contributing writer to Symmetrics Group's blog and co-author of the book "7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation." Michael specializes in providing actionable insights to marketing and sales organizations to help them increase pipelines, win ratios and productivity. In addition to working as a sales performance consultant, Michael has worked as a sales overlay, head of sales operations, and head of strategic marketing planning. Michael currently serves as a Director of Business Value Services at Salesforce.

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