Not that long ago, I was talking with the CEO of one of the companies we work with. The firm recently launched an entire wave of new products. He was certain they were going to really connect with their customers. The quality was exceptional, and the engineering never better. But there was a big problem: They just weren’t moving.
This was particularly frustrating, because the company had invested a considerable amount of money in training their sales force on the new products. There seemed to be demand in the market for their solution, but they just couldn’t sell the things.
“I’m considering replacing the sales management,” he told me. “The only reason I haven’t done that yet is because hiring replacements would be even more expensive.”
“Would you mind if I took a look at your compensation plan?” I asked.
The question startled him. “Why? What does that have to do with my sales results?”
“Everything,” I said.
It’s not always easy for an owner, CEO or VP to see the company through the eyes of their employees. If the sales organization is failing to promote a new product or service, the first place to start looking for a cause is in their compensation plan. If the sales team is focusing on one specific product or service, even when this doesn’t mesh with the company’s priorities, it’s worth taking a moment to consider how their activity is incentivized.
Sales is tough work. There are salespeople who thrive on recognition for a job well done. They value the sense of teamwork and mutual achievement that comes with hitting their goals. Yet, that’s not why people join this profession. Salespeople are there for one reason: The opportunity to make money.
Compensation for salespeople is performance-based, so it’s only natural that they gravitate toward pushing products and services that provide them with the biggest commission. The company’s priorities, however, don’t always match the priorities of an individual salesperson. Pushing a new slate of lower-cost products, for instance, may actually result in the sales team needing to do far more work for far less of a commission.
This misalignment of priorities can be frustrating, particularly because the C-Suite has a completely different perspective built around efficiency, optimization and margins. It can be tempting to clamp down on an underperforming sales team, not realizing that this often makes the problem worse.
The sales team is the face of the company to the customers, prospects, and partners. It’s a mission-critical function of the organization. Without sales, the company dies.
This means that it’s absolutely vital for the company to find a compensation structure that works. It needs to incentivize the right activities, and bring the sales team’s need into alignment with the company’s priorities. At the same time, it also needs to reward the sales team in non-monetary ways, encouraging to think about their role in the greater organization.
This is also a good place for a final word of caution: Don’t underestimate your sales team. Sales is truly challenging work, and those people who truly excel at it have the dedication and passion of champion-level athletes. They are competitive, assertive and self-motivated. They hate failure, and they don’t want to be part of a losing team.
If you fail to recognize them for their skills, or provide fair compensation for their efforts, they will leave for greener pastures. Great salespeople need to feel appreciated, and rewarded when they deliver exceptional results.
Are you looking to best equip your sales team? Learn how SugarCRM can help you. Contact us today or call (+1) 800.391.4055.