Heading into the last week of the month, quarter or year, would you prefer to be ahead of goal or behind? And what about your salespeople - would you prefer for them to be ahead of goal or behind?
Are you sure? I didn't ask how you wanted them to finish...
As an example, let's look at yesterday's Patriots-Colts Football game where the Patriots had around a 28 point lead in the fourth quarter. Two things happened. The Patriots thought they had the game won and they relaxed - they took their foot off the gas - while the Colts, with nothing to lose and no resistance, mounted a huge comeback. The Colts didn't quite make it all the way back but they turned a game that really was a blow out into what appeared to be (based on the score) a close, well-fought game.
Over the years, I have observed the following to be consistently true:
- Salespeople who have hit their numbers with time to spare go into cruise control, take their foot off the gas, and prepare for the next period. You love their numbers but I hate the let down.
- Salespeople who have been behind, but close for most of the period, pull out the stops and usually manage to hit their numbers.
- Salespeople who have been far behind give in to the inevitable, stop trying, and allow the period to die on the vine.
- Sales Management is usually far too reactive - too late - to change any of this.
- Contests and Incentives, when well conceived, can have a short-term impact.