Planning for Customer Success – Goal-Based Management

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve blogged about building metrics for your customer success team, and setting goals based on those metrics.  Now that you have clear metrics and goals you’ll need to manage your team to those goals.  Getting great results from your success team is what makes you a terrific operator and excellent manager.  Here are some tactics I’ve had success with when managing my teams. 

Make Sure Goals Are Clear

When you roll out new goals one of the first things you need to do is clearly communicate those goals to your team.  How you do this will depend on the size and location of your team, but in general a meeting works best because it allows for Q&A.  You should plan to cover:

  • What the goals are, and how they relate to the overall metrics for the team
  • When the goals will need to be completed
  • Where everyone can go to view both goals and results
  • Any action plans you already have in place

There are two other things to consider.  First, it is important that reps and anyone else in the company be able to see both goals and results at any time.  Absolute transparency is critical to managing your team and gaining the trust of other departments in your organization.  Even if you don’t have technology like a CRM in place you can always use a white board.

Second, great managers don’t just tell their teams what the goals are – they explain to their teams why those goals are important and how they tie into the overall success of the company.  Taking a few extra minutes to explain the “why” behind things helps make reps more likely to buy into and better able to execute on the goals.

Hold Regular Meetings

There are 2 important types of meetings when you are a goal-based manager – individual meetings with each team member and a group meeting with the team.  The frequency and length of these meetings will vary based on the size of your team, and the content of each should be different as well.  Here are some tips:

The One-on-One:

  1. Make reps bring you their results to date.  This will assure you that they are paying attention, and will give you a basis for discussion.
  2. Create an action plan.  Work with your rep on a concrete plan for how they are going to achieve their goals.  Document it.  Check on it in the next meeting to see how it went and course correct if needed.
  3. Pick a time and stick with it.  Both parties need to be committed to these meetings or they won’t be valuable. 

The Team Meeting:

  1. Share team and company results.  This will give your team a view of the big picture and remind them how their efforts fit in.
  2. Use this time to learn.  Group meetings are the best time to share tactics that have worked and brainstorm new ideas.  It helps to get the discussion going if you ask a few people who have had some success to share at the meeting.
  3. Reward performance.  Acknowledging those who are hitting their goals sets the bar high and encourages the entire team to perform.

Course Correct If Needed

You’ve put in a tremendous amount of work gaining alignment on metrics and planning out challenging and achievable goals.  You effectively communicated your goals, have all your reports and dashboards set up and are having regular meetings with your team.  Why aren’t you seeing the expected results? 

Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and there is no shame in needing to correct things mid-stream.  That said, you need to move fast.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Are the goals correct?  It’s relatively easy to determine if your goals are off by taking a look at how individual reps are performing.  If one rep is struggling but the rest are achieving their goals, it probably isn’t the goals.  If nobody on your team is achieving the goals, you probably need to take a close look at whether the goals you set were achievable.
  • Do you need a new action plan?  Other times it isn’t the goals, but the tactics you’re using to try to achieve them that are off. If you think that you need to adjust your tactics seek advice from your advisors and peers.  A brainstorming session in your team meeting might also turn up some new ideas to test.
  • What if it’s the rep?  If you determine that an individual rep is holding back the team it is your responsibility as a manager to quickly move that person up or out.  Start with coaching and action plans in that person’s one-on-one meetings.  You might also try pairing that person up with one of your better performers for some peer coaching.  If none of that works you’ll need to move on to your company’s discipline process.  At that point your object should be to rapidly replace that rep, ideally before your next goal cycle.

Although some heavy lifting goes into setting up goals-based management, your team will love knowing what it takes to be a top performer, and your company will benefit from the transparency and clear results it brings. 

Need help managing your Customer Success team’s goals?  The Success League’s consulting team can help with goal setting and training.