What is this guy doing?

“What is this guy doing?” It was just an odd maneuver. Something out of the ordinary from what would have been a typical everyday experience at the drive-through of a Burger King. I was heading home from a day at the beach, unaware that I’d be having a breakthrough that would lead to the development of the concepts and strategies I share on this blog and throughout my sales career. I watched as the customer in front of me drove from the ordering menu at Burger King to the pickup window of the drive-through.  He did not receive his food.  Instead of the usual routine, the cashier asked him to drive forward and wait for his food.  Later the cashier came outside to deliver the food, headset intact and bags of food in hand. The customer then drove off.  As I pulled up, I wondered if I too would have the same experience. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a digital timer mounted on the wall above the cashiers head. At that moment, the manager at the drive-through window waved me forward, without my food.  “We will bring it out to you. Just pull up please,” he requested. The manager sent a young man out to my car who handed me my food. I had to ask: “I’m curious, why did we have to pull up, especially when there was no one behind me?” “The Timer,” he replied “That’s how the manager is rated in performance. We’re supposed to serve each customer within a certain period of time. By moving everyone ahead like this, he can manipulate the results of the timer.”

How are you manipulating the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your job?  When I worked at Cintas we had two mandated call blocks of 3-4 hours each week.  We were expected during that time to call at least 100 prospective companies. These call blocks could be grueling and very draining. We had a boss that expected we hit the 100 calls every call block and if you didn’t, you better be ready to explain why.  Many of the reps, myself included, would do things that manipulated the results. Call a business that you know is not open. It’s a call.  One down.  Call a business that you know will not do business with us…two down.  Call a business that is out of business…three down. Pick up the phone but not actually call anyone…four down.  Mark it in the software as called…Five down.  Doing this gave our manager the wrong numbers when looking at our KPIs.  First, he thought we had no problems making 100 calls during the call block.  We could have used some training or help in planning our call blocks to make them effective but since he did not see us struggle to make the number, he assumed we were good to go.  Second, he thought we had issues overcoming objections. He thought that because he saw that we made 100 calls and booked 10 appointments, a 10% closing ratio, that we needed help booking meetings. If we had counted the actual calls we made, he would have seen we made about 50 calls and booked 10 appointments. A much better 20% closing ratio. I didn’t need help overcoming objections. I needed help planning my call block and pre-qualifying the prospects to make sure I called 100 of the best prospects.  I needed help during the call block staying focused.  I needed a morale boost during the block to keep me motivated and dialing.

When you manipulate the data as an individual contributor you are only hurting yourself and your own personal development.  If you are a manager, create an environment where your team can say they are missing their KPIs without fear of punishment and we can work with them on improving whatever it will take to bring their numbers up. 
The key to using KPIs for sales professionals is to highlight the level of competency in each rep.  This should not be a management by objectives tool but rather a coaching tool.  Think about it from a sports perspective.  A baseball player who has seen a dip in his batting average would start working with his hitting coach.  A good hitting coach is not just going to tell the batter he is not cut out for Baseball and try and “coach” him out of the job.  A good hitting coach is going to review his last 100 at-bats and look at why outs were made.  For example: Did he make great contact, but hit the ball right into the shift the defense had put on?  If so, then let’s start looking at hitting the ball to the opposite field and see if we can get the average up.  
This point was really driven home for me toward the end of the year at Cintas.  We were coming close the Christmas Holiday and our experience told us that most businesses would be hard to nail down and get appointments for the week between Christmas and New Years.  So for the couple of days between the two holidays, we had Call Parties in the office.  We spent the entire day on the 27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th of December in the office calling prospects setting up appointments for the beginning of the new year.  We spent December 24th in the office preparing for the calling party.  I sat down and created a call list for each hour for each of the 4 days.  Our four days were scheduled like this: 9 am-10 am team training, 10 am-11 am Call Block 1, 11 am-12 pm, Call Block 2, 12 pm-2 pm Team Lunch, 2 pm-3 pm Call Block 3, 3 pm-4 pm Call Block 4 and 4 pm-5 pm Call Block 5.  So with 5 call blocks for 4 days straight we needed a list of 2,000 names.  On my list, I had the company name, the main contact, and their phone number so I could sit at my desk and pound away on the phones for the entire hour.  Our boss created games for each call block to see who could set the most meetings.  Each winner received a gift card worth $100.00.  I was actually making 100 true legit calls a block and was setting between 15-20 appointments for the new year each block.  My January was booked, my KPIs were legit and I learned that instead of having the cars pull forward, I needed to prepare myself for my call blocks each and every week.

I hope this helps you as you look at your activity and your sales metrics. Happy Selling.

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