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BirdsEye View

selling financial services - second in a series

 3. Goaling and measurement

 The first step toward achieving great results is setting breakthrough, non-incremental, non-negotiable and clear goals, followed by vigorous measurement.

·         Big, hairy, audacious goals.

Sales goals, like all breakthrough goals, should reflect market opportunity, not past performance.  History is no indication of potential; it is merely an indication of past goaling and individual performance.  Setting aspirational (but not “mission impossible”) goals is critical to achieving results that are beyond the historical experience of the team.  Allowing incremental goal setting, such as 30% better than last year, binds the team to the limits of historical results.

·         Industry benchmarks and best-of-class expectations.

Aspirational goals often lack credibility, because they are not within the emotional vocabulary of the team.  They’ve never performed at such levels, and therefore feel these are unrealistic goals that management is setting without understanding what it takes to achieve the goals.  That’s where the historical performance of others comes in.  Showing that the very same goals have been achieved in similar markets by other institutions validates the goals.  In addition, almost always you’ll have at least one person on your team who is already performing even at the aspirational goal levels.  That person is yet another indication that the goals are doable. 

Often teams perform at low levels but believe they’re doing very well.  It is management’s job to bring them to reality and show them how their performance relates to industry standards.  Remember, there is no glory in being average, but there is great satisfaction in being world class.

It is important that the team believes the goals CAN be reached, or they will not even attempt to achieve them.  That’s why building credibility upfront is important.

·        Key measurements and minimum performance standards.

What gets measured gets done.  This is a well-known saying, but it has one catch:  if you measure EVERYTHING, nothing gets done.  Measurement is a potent tool but it needs to be used effectively. Measure and report only those elements that truly move the needle, the behaviors and results you’re focused on, rather than everything.  This is a tough call for management, since many have a hard time prioritizing.  However, if we don’t show the team clearly what we’re after, they will interpret our long list of goals their own way, and prioritize on their own.  It is much more effective for management to select the indicators they care about the most, and only then report them to the team.

In selecting key measurement, include both leading and lagging indicators.  A leading indicator is the behavior required to achieve results.  For example, making prospect calls has no inherent value (unless it produces the results you want), but without making such calls growth is unlikely to happen.  There are certain behaviors that relate to each result you’re ultimately after, and those need to be goals to ensure that you get a sufficient level of activity to achieve the results you’re looking for.

Results vary from a product-level sales (e.g. $50 million growth in free checking balances) to profitability, customer retention etc.  Management can make the most contribution by measuring the right indicators to drive results, and that takes thought and a thorough understanding of what indeed drives performance.

·         Daily reporting requirements.

Measurement is a powerful tool, but only if people use it.  Frequency of reporting is another key to success.  Even if you measure the right stuff, reporting on it monthly is too infrequent.  A full month goes by before each person sees how they performed relative to goals.  As a result, you will celebrate their success way after the fact, and will lose a whole month before you can make mid-course corrections. 

Daily reporting of key indicators for front line personnel is an important tool to improving results.  It provides many opportunities for timely recognition and quick recoveries.  If you measure only a few indicators, it can be done easily and quickly without investing huge amounts in system development.

 

In the last segment of this series we’ll examine how management can support the sales process to maximize results and help their people succeed.