A comment on one of my recent posts about forecasting really got me thinking. Here’s the comment, “Managers, grow a backbone. Hold your people accountable and stop accepting excuses.” My knee-jerk reaction was violent agreement.
Then I started thinking… How effective is Atilla The Hun style management? How did I and would I react to a “no-excuses, do what I say” attitude on the part of my boss? How can accountability become an integral part of the sales culture without being heavy-handedly imposed from above?
The answer lies in the competitive nature of the sales beast. It’s also embodied in W. Edwards Deming’s famous line, “What gets measured gets done.” And it’s ridiculously simple to implement.
Choose an important metric and publish a top to bottom ranking every month.
Let’s say it’s forecast accuracy. Somebody will be best, somebody will be worst. Somebody #1 will feel good and strive for a repeat performance. Somebody #2 will immediately conclude that bottom-of-the-pile notoriety is no fun and strive to move up at least into the middle of the pack.
Here’s what’s really cool. Nobody wants to be last, but somebody will be last each month. That means a whole lot of self-imposed, proactive action to improve performance will be going on. Self-imposed and proactive; not pressure applied from above. The absolute level of last place performance will slowly, relentless get better and better and better.
Sounds like a culture of continuous improvement doesn’t it? Sounds like a culture where reps actually do demand more accountability. Sounds like a culture where the reps will be intensely focused on identifying the “right” metrics, the really critical ones that produce sales growth. Hmmm… Maybe 3 or 4 or 5 important metrics should be published each month.
(A final note: It isn’t necessary to publically post actual names next to the scores. It IS necessary, however, to publically post the scores and let each individual know where he or she ranks.)