article | April 6, 2011
Measuring the Miserableness of a Sales Job
The book uses a fable around the three signs of Anonymity, Irrelevance, and Immeasurement. Below are the authors definitions of each sign and my ideas for how to measure them in a sales context through Sales Performance Managment.
1. Anonymity is the feeling that employees get when they realize that their manager has little interest in them as a human being and that they know little about their lives, their aspirations and their interests.
Anonymity in the Sales world should be relatively easy to overcome. The Sales Rep has an advantage in that they spend (or should be spending) lots more time with their manager than other organizational roles via weekly one-on-one sessions, field ride alongs, joint sales calls, etc. As an aside, world-class organizations have over 75% of a Sales Manager’s time allocated to these types of coaching activities. But spending time together doesn’t always relate to removing Anonymity. Assuming the SM’s desire is there, why not use a tool that is already in many Sales departments – the Mackay 66? Although this tool is intended for profiling prospects, it can be tweaked for use by SMs with their Sales Reps. 66 data points might be too many, so cut it down and measure Anonymity by the completeness of your tweaked profile for each Rep.
2. Immeasurement is the inability of employees to assess for themselves their contribution or success.
Immeasurement is another factor that already has plenty of leverage in the Sales world. In most sales organizations, there is no shortage of metrics and dashboards. More often, there are too many measurements going on which frustrates the Sales Rep and may cause angst with this sign. The trick is to winnow all those metrics and set up a dashboard for the Rep that focuses on metrics that are aligned with the third sign: irrelevance. The results and activity-based metrics are necessary for managing a sales force, so don’t dump those, but look deep to see how a handful of metrics that the Rep monitors can lend to his/her decrease of misery.
3. Irrelevance takes root when employees cannot see how their job makes a
difference in the lives of others.
Irrelevance is the most difficult to measure for a Sales force. Why? Because a Sales Rep doesn’t always understand how their work is making a difference in someone else’s life (beyond simply their family). Is the job they fulfill for the sake of the Sales Manager? The Sales Executive? The Buyer? The Prospect who went with the competitor? All of the above?
To measure this one, both the WHO and the HOW must be looked at. For example, a Sales Rep is in it to help his/her Sales Managers – even if the Sales Managers don’t admit this. Helping fulfill a team sales quota affects the Sales Manager’s life, a measurement that already exists in Sales forces. But, how about other Sales Reps? A Sales Rep could help them by sharing a sales best practice – and this can be measured by simply having the Sales Rep send an email to the SM who is also being copied on feedback emails on how it has helped other Sales reps.
Switching to the Customer or Prospect view, though, is a bit tougher. That the Customer is a WHO cannot be argued, unless the product or service being sold does nothing to help a customer. But HOW it helps is what must be measured. An example: your firm’s accounting service helps your sponsor be in compliance with financial regulations, thereby easing the stress of litigation involving your sponsor. Objectively measuring from the external perspective is more difficult, but usually revolves around customer testimonials, satisfaction scores, or personal emails/calls from customer personnel to the Sales Rep or SM. One way to encourage this is to have the SM ask customer contacts to call or email the Sales Rep if the customer “thought that the Rep did good work in improving that contact’s life” through the purchase/use of the product or service.
It is the SM that should be bumping up the metric for relevance by counting the number of emails/calls/chats he or she has sincerely used to point out who and how a Sales Rep’s job has affected others’ lives.
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