Monday, 29 April 2013

Behaviour and Results

We were speaking recently at a sales conference in Kiev on the subject of sales management, and one of the important decisions that a sales manager has to make is whether to direct behaviour or results.

If you direct behaviour then you have to be sure that your directions are perfect and that the world doesn't change in between you deciding what your sales people should do and them actually doing it.

Directing behaviour is the sign of a controlling sales manager who essentially says, "I'm perfect and I know how to do your job so just do what I tell you and it will work".


The biggest problem is that when your directions don't work - and they definitely won't - your sales people will hold you accountable. By trying to take control, you actually lose control.

In Genius at Work, this approach creates Rituals and Incantations; magic spells which must surely produce results. Except they don't work.

The alternative is that you direct results. You dictate what the end result needs to be, such as the sales target, and you leave the sales person to decide how they should achieve it.

However, this approach has its problems too.


When you don't specify any conditions for hitting target, your sales people may employ questionable methods in getting there.

Therefore, the ideal option is to specify the end result and set rules for how to get there. Once you've done that, you need to regularly measure activity and refine your rules as you go along. It's no use waiting until it's too late and then saying, "I didn't want you to do it that way so I won't pay your bonus". You have to bite the bullet at every measurement stage, accept responsibility for the targets you've set and then refine them for next time. The shorter you make those measurement periods, the more quickly you can make changes. However, short measurement periods doesn't mean weekly targets and bonuses, it just means that you review the results that the sales people are achieving and adjust activity as necessary to get the right result in the right way.

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