When Are Sales Metrics Useless?

Beverly FlaxingtonBeverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I am charged with sales in a large investment management firm. I’ve been here many years and have always made goal. I’m not much of a planner – I know where the opportunities are and I go after them until I can close them. I’m very tenacious and dedicated.

Our firm just brought a sales manager in from the brokerage world. He is starting to implement more stringent requirements around how many calls we have to make each day, how many meetings we have to have in order to plan a trip and things like this. I understand this approach. But he wants to weave results into our bonus program. So, if I were to go to meetings out of town, but I only had two scheduled instead of the five he wants, I would not get the full amount of comp, even if I close one of these two situations.

This seems like shooting ourselves in the foot. If the assets come in and it is good business, what difference does it make whether I visited with 15 people or one person? What behaviors are we rewarding? I have had conversations with him. I’m not shy about stating my opinion, but he is steadfast in his approach. He claims it was the secret sauce that helped his teams be #1 in his former firm.

What’s your opinion? I’m not happy about it, but if I am wrong about my viewpoint, I am open to another perspective. I believe in rewarding people on results, not process.


Dear T.D.,

Don’t pursue a career as a math teacher in middle school. I remember how frustrated my kids were when the teacher gave them a bad grade, even though they got the right answers, if they did not show the process and steps it took to get to that answer! Similar thought here – this person is interested in process: Doing the “right” things repeatedly and getting a rhythm that would carry you through good times and not so good times.