Quill Tracks Performance and Boosts Sales

April 22, 2001
In an environment where salespeople may never see many of their customers,companies must make the most of every opportunity to gain sales. In abrick-and-mortar environment, that's done with point of purchase displays in thecheckout line. On the phone it's done by offering sale items to every customer.Quill Corporation believes those incremental sales are so important that theyfigure prominently in employee performance evaluations.

Name:Quill Corporation
Type of Company:Business-to-businessoffice supplies direct marketer & call center
Numberof Employees:1,200

    "We utilize the CultureWorx program for our incremental sales program toaward points to associates who offer our sale items to phone customers,regardless of whether or not the customer actually makes a purchase," sayssales manager Kim Kelly. "Points also are awarded to associates for actualincremental sales. Every associate who makes a sale is rewarded by earningpoints."

    Actually tracking these points and using them as key factors in performancereviews, Kelly says, has boosted incremental sales. "More associates arewinning points than ever before, and our incremental sales have increased duringthe past six months."

    HR consultants have known for years that behavior-oriented appraisal andtracking systems foster improvements. Results tracked by such systems arequantifiable and objective, and let employees know exactly how they're doing ina way that provides more information than the too-often-heard comment,"You're doing okay."

    The CultureWorx system strengthens relationships between managers andemployees not only by helping to provide objective feedback, but also by doingit in real time, continuously. As a result, managers can reinforce positivebehaviors as they occur. This encouraging employees to form effective habits andstopping bad habits before they can form.

    Kelly's experience only emphasizes that idea. She says, "The CultureWorxprogram allows me to communicate and administer our incremental sales rewardprogram in an efficient, effective manner, while at the same time, allowing ourpeople to be proactive" about tracking their own progress.

    Traditionally, managers focus upon corporate directives and policies toimprove employee performance. This takes up about 80 percent of a manager's timebut delivers only 20 percent effectiveness, according to Craig Muller, chairmanof CultureWorx. Kelly adds that there's "a huge benefit in allowing ourassociates to take ownership of their incentives. We feel that this trulymotivates them." One of the reasons is that consequences are aligned withbehaviors and with corporate goals, so employees see the relationship betweentheir performance and those objectives.

    Coaching is an integral part of Quill's program. It's also an area that needsimprovement, according to the SHRM "2000 Performance ManagementSurvey." Only half of the managers surveyed are trained to providefeedback. "Performance software is not a substitute for face-to-facecoaching sessions," Kelly says, "particularly in a high-pressure,high-stress area like a call center, employees need sincere praise, positivefeedback, and development opportunities that are discussed with themone-on-one."

    For managers, such real-time, continuous-feedback systems can help themprovide specific performance information before ineffective behaviors become badhabits. They also allow them to make strategic adjustments within theirdepartments to better align their work to corporate goals. In the case ofincentive rewards, CultureWorx keeps the corporate goals to the fore, helpingemployees avoid tailoring their goals to particular incentives.

    Administrative ease is another benefit, Kelly says. Quill has eightdistribution centers in the United States and a warehouse in the United Kingdom.

    Because the program is Web-based, it can be accessed easily from anylocation, providing complete information each time. "The program providesan accurate account of all the happenings of the program in one centralizedformat. As the administrator, I have the choice in how much actual hands-on workI need to take part in."

Workforce, April 2001, pp. 78-79SubscribeNow!