Success Measures

....In which we remind ourselves to understand how our clients are measured so we can help them be successful. My children's' rooms are disheveled. This state has been an ongoing source of friction between the children and their mother who will, for days at a time, ignore the dishevelment and then, without any apparent triggering event, blow her stack and order a clean-up, threatening all manner of unhappy outcomes if the rooms are not cleaned up.

When I ask, “What does ‘cleaned up’ mean?” the answer is, “They know…”

Since I’ve observed her expectations of “cleaned up” seem to change week by week and since it’s been my experience that our children do what is consistently expected and measured, just like normal people (i.e. people who didn’t grow up in our house), I’ve suggested from time to time “Let’s have a written standard that states clearly the minimum level of order required in each of their rooms every day and on Saturday by noon.” That way, the rooms either meet standard…. or they don’t…. at which point the appropriate level of consequences, positive or negative, rumbles forth with no surprise. (They have not adopted this suggestion, and I haven’t given up.)

The same is true of our clients. Except for tiny businesses that run more like my family than a business, our clients work with written standards, expectations, and measures. If we want to serve them well as sales people, we have to know how they are measured and what levels of benefits or unhappy outcomes are called upon them based on their performance.

This question can be asked baldly: “How is your performance measured?” The current consultanty way of asking this is, “What metrics are you driving?” which makes it sound much more sophisticated. Other ways of asking this question include:

  • What are your priorities for the upcoming year? How do those line up with the metrics you’re driving?
  • What are the top two or three things you need to accomplish in order to meet company expectations?

Softer forms include

  • What will a good year look like for you this year?
  • What do you want to make sure doesn’t happen this year? What do you want to avoid if you can?
  • What’s the main thing you’re focusing on to keep your business healthy?

Any of these work because your clients and their teams will do whatever they’re measured on and, ultimately that’s what we’re measured on – the extent to which we help our clients hit those targets.

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