Measure Your Productivity
SOUTHWEST Airlines, in a daring parody on the current Major League Baseball steroid scandal, is running a series of television commercials featuring Nick Pudder, the winner of the Annual Productivity Award: APA ’07. Nick’s fellow office workers are resentful of his special parking spot, his private corner office, his much greater compensation and the boss’ recognition.
Nick is so productive that his dysfunctional non-believer co-workers accuse him of taking “productivity enhancers.” It’s obviously some mysterious potion that is a “steroid for the brain.”
Southwest, naturally, uses Nick’s productivity story on their Website at www.southwest.com . Go there, and you can watch the video, which is funnier and more expansive than the TV commercials—and, you’ll be getting a strong message to become more productive.
Southwest is a fun airline anyway, and now it’s fun to visit their Website. It’s genius marketing!
I better stop and explain “productivity” to Marvelle Stump, America’s least productive print salesperson.
Marv, good buddy, productivity is the output from work measured over some time span. If, for example, you spent six hours on the lake fishing for Blue Gills, and you caught 24 keepers, then your productivity per hour would be four fish and probably four Bud Lites. Let’s see. Six hours times four beers equals one case. That’s about right for Marvelle.
Back at the plant, the boss measures productivity in terms of sales per employee, and perhaps he breaks it down to sales per plant employee. He measures output from the presses in its simplest form as impressions per hour.
Measuring the productivity of machines is easy. Most of ’em have counters on the back end. So you look at the time, run the job, look at the counter, look at the time again and subtract the spoilage. Machines don’t get distracted, and, they never take a nap or go fishing.
Sales Reps’ Psyches
The printing communications industry understands machines a lot better than it understands the imponderable psyches of more than 100,000 peevish and recalcitrant salespeople. Many owners and bosses say, “Keep ’em down on the other end of building. If they get too close, I might have to talk to them. They might ask me a question.”
So why can’t we measure the productivity of salespeople? Because they won’t cooperate!
Did you ever try to install a call report system in your firm? Most salespeople can conspire 40 different ways to beat your system, no matter how tight you make the rules.
Salespeople won’t let us wire them up to measure their work time against sales derived from the hours worked. Just jokin’. There is no way to implant a chip. Yet.
I am convinced that sales productivity must come from within. I’ve been selling for 45 years and, using my fingers, I count nine different bosses beginning and ending with Attila the Nun (my wife Anne), the federal government and the bank.
None of them ever motivated me or even asked me to improve my sales productivity. I imagine there are some sales managers somewhere who know how to light a fire.
I’m sure there are some fancy sales trainers who can show us the way to increasing productivity and then motivate us to do it.
But, alas, it has not happened.
There is an immutable observation that says, “Fifteen percent of the print salespeople sell 80 percent of all the print communications in America.” I wish NAPL or PIA would actually do a survey to confirm what I have observed.
Anyway, here’s what I want you to do. Start keeping a log each day of the hours you devoted to selling. This includes phone calls, looking up phone numbers, asking for and following up on your estimates, working on your prospect list, etc., but, most importantly, making belly-to-belly sales calls.
Remember that selling is qualitative and quantitative. It requires superb communications skills, and you must have many customer interventions.
Now, after week one, tally your hours worked selling. Be honest. Remember that this is just you measuring yourself. Let’s say the total time for week one was 18 hours and 35 minutes. Pretty dismal, eh?
You challenge yourself to improve in week two, and you manage a blistering 23 hours and 25 minutes. You get the picture.
You will show more and more improvement as you cut out all the office kibitzing; wean yourself from all unnecessary e-mail, IMs and text messages; fooling around on the Internet; reading the newspaper; leering at Bass World; gorging yourself in the pages of Vanity Fair; or calling people to discuss men, women or your Fantasy League machinations.
As your time devoted to selling creeps up, I guarantee your sales will also creep up—but at a faster rate than your hours worked. Something magic happens, and the more time you spend selling, the luckier you get, and you start hitting home runs with new accounts and existing accounts becoming major accounts.
Johnathan Spira, head researcher at Basex, a leading research firm, observes, “For a society so obsessed with productivity, we’re pretty bad at actually being productive. Sure, services such as Google and Wikipedia have been described as being time hogs, but apparently the real killer is multi-tasking.”
Experts at Basex warn: “2008 is being dubbed the ‘year of information overload.’ The human brain is not hardwired for paying attention to several things at once or for handling constant interruptions. The pressure put on us by technology to respond immediately to e-mails, text messages and IMs cost the U.S. economy around $650 billion in 2006.”
I’m going to make this productivity thing irresistible. If you will send me your first week time log, I’ll send you an autographed photo of the Mãnana Man, suitable for framing and to sit on your desk or dashboard. That way, I’ll be watching you as you embark on this productivity adventure.
And, you must keep this quiet: I will send you some productivity enhancers in a plain brown package.
Now buy a little log book or start one on your PC—and get out there and sell something! PI
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of “Now Get Out There and Sell Something,” which is available through NAPL or PIA/GATF. He is chairman/CEO of Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual “Compass Report,” the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 141 printing company transactions and is viewed as the industry’s preeminent deal maker. He can be reached via e-mail at HDeWese@CompassCapLtd.com.