The Case For KPEs

There's a pair of control mechanisms with which you're no doubt familiar.

MBO (Management By Objectives) have been around a lifetime. Courtesy of (who else?) Peter Drucker in 1954. Apparently back then (new to me) aka Management By Planning. Hoping to recalibrate management from supervision to measurement. Setting 'agreed' goals with a plan to achieve them.

It was thought that these applied more to individuals. So an evolution was aimed at teams; OKR (Objectives & Key Results).

Some also argue the distinction that the initial template was top-down, the newer more bottom-up. And more nuance besides, judging by the results returned for a variant on the classic search term of 'what is the difference between mbo and okr'.

Then there's the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) family.

Numeric. Quantifiable. Metric.

Showing progress towards a target or goal.

With its lesser-spotted partner, the KSO (Key Sales Objective).

I note I blogged on these in their context of Hard v Soft targets back in 2009, and via Goals Gone Wild, 2011.

I caught myself thinking recently on how KPIs might be adaptable away from the homeland of statistical data.

It occurred to me that there's another word for 'indicate' I might use.


In its sense of 'reveal the presence of (a quality or feeling)'.

Moving from the quantitative towards qualitative.

In which case, an evolution from KPIs to KPEs. KPEvincers, if you like.

There's a raft of such measures you could create categories, scales or flags for.

Are they inside, outside or swirling their liminal blur of our sweet spot?

Such as for the strategists out there, in the Red or Blue Ocean.

How close are we aligned with their culture? Their 'Commander's Intent'? Underlying thematic direction?

What signifies that they share our worldview?

What proxy metrics may betray how predisposed they may be to our proposal?

Levels of urgency.

Where investment is currently pouring in.

Maybe even the old Miller-Heiman buyer response modes; Growth, Trouble, Even Keel & Over-Confidence.

Their spot on the various Diffusion of Technology curves.

And a personal perennial favourite, the psychographics library of AIO (Attitudes, Interests, Opinions).

Can such KPEvincers make you the Sales prince or princess of your turf?

Subscribe to Salespodder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.