How Do I Set Up a Productivity Improvement Program?

The four benchmarks of a productivity improvement program are training and coaching, nonnegotiable sales and customer service standards, goals, and accountability.

Training It should focus on four distinct areas: sales techniques, product knowledge, operations, and customer service. The keys to effective training are: hear the information, read the information, write the in-formation (i.e., testing), role-play under-standing of the information, and do it live.

Setting sales and customer service standards An effective sales manager must have standards that are never compromised. You won’t be as effective as you could be if you allow your people to strike or boycott what you know must be done.

Sales and customer service standards will have a direct effect on sales. They must be written and posted, and your salespeople must understand the philosophy behind them. You must constantly reinforce them. You must be willing to write up and eventually terminate people for violations of the standards. Instill a few of each, drive them home, and then instill a few more. Don’t give up on your standards—it’s your right to have things done your way.

Sales goals An owner or sales manager must set specific monthly and yearly sales goals (daily and weekly numbers are targets, not goals), for both the store and for each member of the sales staff, and they must be written and posted. Set sales goals for both total sales and add-on percentage, and make them realistic and attainable, based on current running rate. Base individual goals on history, and set three levels: minimum, goal, and stretch goal. Talk about targets and goals constantly. The final numbers are a result, so work on the actions that got the result. Adjust your goals according to current information.

Accountability Salespeople must be held accountable for sales numbers. The accountability numbers that you track must measure both the quantity and the quality of the sales operation. If you don’t hold your people accountable to real numbers, you won’t know where they stand or how to help them improve.

Numbers eliminate subjective reviews of performance, but unless you react to them, they’ll become wallpaper. Total sales and closing ratio average are the primary numbers. Accountability numbers must be tracked daily and totaled on a weekly and monthly basis.