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5 of my 7 reps are focused on the smaller to mid-sized business side of my sales team. Very activity based. One of my weaknesses as a manager has always been what to do after someone doesn't achieve a specific task/action. In this case, they are tasked with uncovering 3 new appts per week with new logos (new business).

This week, only 1 of my 5 reps hit that target. I have them (the underperformers) back in the office tomorrow for another scheduled prospecting block but if they dont hit the targets tomorrow, what next?

What is the most effective way to give "adjusting" feedback for these reps?

US41's picture

Adjusting feedback is not always the answer. It lies like an easy-to-reach weapon on the kitchen counter, but it's not always your best choice.

Some questions:

* What sort of performance did those people have the previous week?

* What is long term performance for each individual and average performance?

* Based on that, are they really behind, or is this week a down time and next week they might do double?

* Should you really be focused on each week in a microcosm?

How about positive feedback for everyone?

"When you get out there and do your best to make your numbers even when you are concerned you might not make them or feel you are in a slump, it's awe inspiring/promotion material/very competent and thorough, supportive of what we all need as an org."

And positive feedback for the guy who made his numbers, too.

If you must reach for adjusting feedback, to each privately, very casual, and say very quickly, "When you don't make your numbers for a week, I get a little worried. Not so good. Anything you need me to do or say to help?"

The last option says "I see you" and fires a shot across their bow without really getting on them in punishment mode.

If it is continuous and consistent, time to go systematic, "Dude, when you miss your numbers week after week, I get really worried about your ability to succeed at this job. What do you need to do differently to succeed?"

If it continues, schedule a meeting, sit down, set a firm deadline to make targets, and document their performance in each of the following O3's. If by the date the numbers are bad, and they are surprisingly still working there and have not quit and run away to avoid failing, then you will have to show them the door.

But hope against hope that the positive feedback does the job.

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="US41"]
The last option says "I see you" and fires a shot across their bow without really getting on them in punishment mode. [/quote]

Thank you for another outstanding post. I have just this kind of conversation coming up later today.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Is missing your target one week that big a deal? I can understand if someone is consistently or repeatedly missing their targets you needing to give feedback or even reassess the targets. If a number of people are missing their target in one particular week (assuming they normally hit or exceed their target) then my first thought would be "Is there some external factor that could account for that?" if the answer was 'Yes' then I'd be looking for whether it's something we can do something about and if it's worth the effort of doing something about (no point spending a $1million to fix something that only happens once a year and only costs $100 when it does). If they miss their targets the next week and there's no visible reason then I'd be looking at feedback.

Also I don't see missing a target as being a behaviour, it's an outcome. Being rude to customers is a behaviour, kicking back and playing Tetris is a behaviour, taking a three hour lunch break is a behaviour.

It does raise a question that had been bouncing around my mind periodically for a while: How often does a behaviour have to be repeated before you give feedback? In one of the casts M&M used the example of coming in 10 minutes late as something you'd give feedback about. Assuming someone was normally on time would you give feedback the first time they were late? Or would you just note it and give feedback if they're late again not long after or if a pattern emerged? I'm early most of the time but every once in a while I get into work late. Anyone who tried to give me feedback like "When you're late this is what happens...What can you do different?" is likely to get a very blunt and highly sarcastic response. Sometimes things happen outside of your control that impact on your activities, e.g. the person 3 seats in front of you on the bus gets stabbed and their attackers flees so you have to wait for the police to show up so you can give a statement and then have to go home for a change of clothes because the shirt and trousers you're wearing got stained whilst you were rendering first aid until the paramedic arrived.

Stephen

WillDuke's picture

Everything US41 said. And what Stephen said, is this really behavior?

And here's a question. Why is the whole team missing this goal? Is the goal realistic? Does the team have the tools it needs to achieve the goal?

If I was told to make 3 appts each week, do I know how to achieve that? It seems like what I am responsible for are the repeatable steps that achieve the goal of 3 appts. Now, if I complete all the steps and still don't get the appts, maybe I'm in the wrong job. But if I just won't complete the steps (make the necessary number of calls, etc.) well, that's cause for feedback.

But my instinct is to say that if only 1 person made the goal, either it was a bad week or the process is not well outlined. Does the whole team really stink? Or is something else the problem?

yahtzee's picture

[quote="WillDuke"]Everything US41 said. And what Stephen said, is this really behavior?

And here's a question. Why is the whole team missing this goal? Is the goal realistic? Does the team have the tools it needs to achieve the goal?

If I was told to make 3 appts each week, do I know how to achieve that? It seems like what I am responsible for are the repeatable steps that achieve the goal of 3 appts. Now, if I complete all the steps and still don't get the appts, maybe I'm in the wrong job. But if I just won't complete the steps (make the necessary number of calls, etc.) well, that's cause for feedback.

But my instinct is to say that if only 1 person made the goal, either it was a bad week or the process is not well outlined. Does the whole team really stink? Or is something else the problem?[/quote]

Always enjoy your posts, Will...thanks for replying.....this portion of my team doesn't understand that their current activity isn't enough. 3 of the 5 are on corrective action and are in jeopardy of losing their jobs. I have worked with each one with the specific steps needed to complete the 3 appt per week task. Ironically, when I used to be in sales (same industry) getting 3 appts per week would have you on corrective action. Given certain industry adjustments (competition, saturation, etc) we have dropped our expectations from 5 to 4 and now to 3 appts, hoping to get them to feel a sense of achievement once they DO hit the goal. In this job, it is sheer activity. It literally is about sitting down and making the calls.

If I were in their position I wouldn't leave the office each day until I had one appt set but the sense of urgency just isn't there (yes, I have listened to the sense of urgency cast). I am just struggling with how to get the excitement up (moral is not really an issue). These guys have the chance to make excellent money (literally for just doing their job). Any guidance?

yahtzee's picture

[quote="US41"]Adjusting feedback is not always the answer. It lies like an easy-to-reach weapon on the kitchen counter, but it's not always your best choice.

Some questions:

* What sort of performance did those people have the previous week?

* What is long term performance for each individual and average performance?

* Based on that, are they really behind, or is this week a down time and next week they might do double?

* Should you really be focused on each week in a microcosm?

How about positive feedback for everyone?

"When you get out there and do your best to make your numbers even when you are concerned you might not make them or feel you are in a slump, it's awe inspiring/promotion material/very competent and thorough, supportive of what we all need as an org."

And positive feedback for the guy who made his numbers, too.

If you must reach for adjusting feedback, to each privately, very casual, and say very quickly, "When you don't make your numbers for a week, I get a little worried. Not so good. Anything you need me to do or say to help?"

The last option says "I see you" and fires a shot across their bow without really getting on them in punishment mode.

If it is continuous and consistent, time to go systematic, "Dude, when you miss your numbers week after week, I get really worried about your ability to succeed at this job. What do you need to do differently to succeed?"

If it continues, schedule a meeting, sit down, set a firm deadline to make targets, and document their performance in each of the following O3's. If by the date the numbers are bad, and they are surprisingly still working there and have not quit and run away to avoid failing, then you will have to show them the door.

But hope against hope that the positive feedback does the job.[/quote]

There has never been a week that all 5 reps has hit this specific target yet I know for a fact that it can be done (it is being done in other, more saturated markets). Usually, there is one or two reps that hit the 3 appt mark but that's about it....thanks for your reply.

WillDuke's picture

[quote] Ironically, when I used to be in sales (same industry) getting 3 appts per week would have you on corrective action. Given certain industry adjustments (competition, saturation, etc) we have dropped our expectations from 5 to 4 and now to 3 appts, hoping to get them to feel a sense of achievement once they DO hit the goal. In this job, it is sheer activity. It literally is about sitting down and making the calls. [/quote]
Maybe they think there's nothing they can do about whether or not they get appointments, that's just "luck of the draw." Can you reset focus onto the number of calls? If they make the calls they can get the appointments right? (Okay, they have to do the right things on the calls, but you're not indicating that's the issue.) So change the goal to however many calls a day they need to make. Can your phone system report those back to you?

Alternatively, what about jumping the number back up to 5? I have found that people rise (or fall) to your expectations. It's possible that this will spark something for them. It's possible that they sense your lack of belief in them at setting the goal clear down to 3. If you don't believe they're any good, well, they must not be. Someone recently wrote a great post about setting unachievable goals to get people to try harder. Could that apply here?

Finally, I'd try competition. Get them competing against each other for that top spot. You'll could figure out some type of reward, but bragging rights alone are desirable. Post a graph of how many calls each person made. Post a graph of how many appts each person made. Post a graph of how many sales each person made. (Better yet, figure out how to make it one chart.) Put it up where everyone can see it. Hey, Bob had the most sales, coincidentally he made the most calls...

I'm torn on rewards. On the one hand should you have to pay people extra to do their job? But on the other hand if it works do you really care? You could throw in a cash bonus, maybe a preferred parking spot, extra day off. Hmm, here's an idea, the first one to get 20 appts gets to take the rest of the month off. Paid. :)

I don't know your environment or your staff, but those are some off-the-cuff thoughts I have.