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Metric Fixation

by David Brock on May 7th, 2018

We are consumed by metrics.  We measure everything–Activity levels, call/meeting volumes, emails, customer “touches,” pipeline health/volume/velocity, forecast accuracy, quota performance, and on and on and on.

Metrics are important.  They are an indicator of our progress in achieving our goals, they help us understand if we are on target or drifting off target.  Without these indicators, it’s difficult to be focused, effective, efficient.

Without metrics it’s easy to lose our direction.  “If you don’t know where you are going, any path will get you there.”

But it’s important to understand what metrics can do and their limitations.

Too often, the metric becomes an end in itself, not just the means or an indicator about our abilities to achieve our end goals.

We become fixated on hitting a specific call volume, forgetting the purpose of the calls and what we are trying to achieve.  Presumably, in making calls, we are trying to find customers, engage them, find those that are interested in continuing the discussion.  But too often, we become fixated on the number–50, 100, whatever it is.  For many managers and SDRs, the focus becomes making that number, not on why we are making the calls in the first place–generating more interested customers.

Then as we see that what we are doing isn’t producing what it did in the past, rather than understanding why, we ratchet up the number of calls.  Of course, this is what the math behind the metrics tell us to do.

Rather than looking at what may be going wrong, or how we might improve results.  We just focus on the metric/goal.

We see this in virtually every metric we put in place.  Click throughs, opens, call volumes, meetings, appointments, proposals, pipeline coverage.

It gets worse, as the focus becomes achieving the metric/goal, people start to game the system.  They increase the dials, without caring whether they are calling the right people–all because some manager has told them they need to do this.

I was once listening to calls in a large call center.  I was interested in the individual that always blew away his call volume number.  I listened to his calls to see what he was doing differently.  He spent much of his day calling friends.  He knew if he talked to them for 2-3 minutes, he’d hit the goals his manager had established.

But he wasn’t producing the results, that is, while he was exceeding his call quota, he wasn’t producing the outcomes he should have.  Everyone had become so fixated on the number of calls, they forgot what they were really trying to achieve.

Most of you are probably thinking, “That’s really dull, it’s so obvious….”  It is, but too often we get so focused in the momentum of day to day activity, we don’t take the opportunity to step back to examine what’s really happening.

Metrics/goals are important.  They give us indicators whether things are on track.  But to understand and address what’s really going on, we have to get under the numbers, trying to understand what’s really happening.

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