Rocky II

Sales managers often make the mistake of measuring what has happened yesterday without measuring it against what is happening in real time. Otis Hackett continues his lesson on managing individual sales encounters with customers.

So if you read last month’s installment, please raise your hand. Ok, now put ’em down. To catch the rest of you up, Rocky, the hero of our story, was just exiled out of his comfort zone (aka, his office) to the showroom (aka, the place where everything happens) because he was managing the department as opposed to managing individual sales encounters. Rocky had devolved into a sales department administrator — essentially nothing more than a clerk.

So we moved him. Now he’s out there stripped of all the measuring tools he’d become so addicted to, tools that he’s created to tell him all about the things he thought the boss would want to know (things that the boss’s accountant could also tell him if asked). We slapped those tools out of his hand and replaced them with two far simpler documents (we’ll get into later).

You see, Rocky, the king of measuring every possible variable, could tell you the air pressure in the back tire on the used Sportster in the third row of the showroom and that it had been in inventory for 112 days, 9 hours and 16 seconds, but he couldn’t tell you the names of anyone who had sat on it during that time. To prove my point about the useless nature of much of the information he was measuring, I asked him a question that I got off of a birthday card years ago.

“If a chicken-and-a-half could lay an egg-and-a-half in a day-and-a-half, how long would it take a grasshopper with a wooden leg to kick all the seeds out of a dill pickle?”

“What the %^&$ does it matter?” was his reply.

“You are correct, sir!” I said. “What the %^&$ does it matter? How does knowing the number of bikes I sold last year help me sell the next bike?” (Don’t send any e-mails; I know it can help, but I’m just makin’ a point!)

I don’t need to know about anything the customer doesn’t care about when it comes to filling my role in the customer’s buying process. And the customer doesn’t care how many I sold last year! My sole purpose in the buying process is to help the customer move as close as possible to his or her decision and to then — and only then — to ask them to make that decision. Anything that doesn’t tell me where I am in that process is just chickens kicking seeds out of dill pickles.

What are the things you’re suggesting I measure, Otis? I’m glad you asked, and I’ll answer, but first, answer me this:

If you sold 40 bikes last month and 45 this month, in which of the two months did your sales team perform better? This month, right? But what if your team met 300 customers last month and 600 this month? That changes the equation a bit, doesn’t it? Did you make more money this month or last month? I can’t tell, but if you talked to twice as many people to sell roughly the same number of units, you wasted a bunch more money in month two.

You really can’t tell if your team is maximizing all opportunities by looking at the results unless you measure those results against opportunities; unless you measure the sold units against the number of people who came in the door hoping to buy one.

So we set Rocky in the middle of the showroom armed with a podium and Greet Log where he would keep a tally of how many people were greeted by his salespeople. He kept a master list and also broke it down by salesperson. That’s when he started realizing which salespeople were blowing through customers and which ones were spending quality time with them. In the very first week Rocky spent on the floor counting greets, he discovered that the guy who delivered the most units talked to twice as many people, but only delivered 10% more units than his number two guy. Then he did some math and discovered that the number two salesperson was also holding higher grosses. Spending more time with customers creates a higher sense of value for them, thereby possibly justifying paying a higher price.

My point is that Rocky would never have known the real impact his people were having on the floor if he continued to measure results only; measuring what had happened yesterday without measuring it against what was happening in real time.

Once we got his focus on that and that alone, through the pain of kicking him out of his office and slapping his familiar tools out of his hands, it changed his world.

So, for the next two months, I dare you to try an experiment. Run some sort of a count of how many people your team greets. If you’d like, e-mail me and I’ll send you a simple tally sheet we use with instructions to get you started ([email protected]). I wonder what you’ll learn about what’s happening on your showroom.

Then next month, we’ll talk about how to really make your measurements razor sharp by adding in one more element to the opportunities against results equation. We’ll also break down how Rocky used the new measuring devices to zero in more precisely on which elements of his sales process to coach his sales team on to make them better.

In the meantime, remember, none of this stuff does itself. If you really want to put some science to what most people see as magic, you’ll have to pay the price of learning the truth about what’s happening to your customers when they walk through your door, and the truth shall set you free!

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