What are the top 12 ways to keep and attract top sales super stars?

 

By Mark Allen Roberts

super man

 

I believe there is a problem festering deep within a number of companies that may, if left untreated be the single biggest threat to your team achieving sales, profits and your bottom line objectives. A study not long ago said 60% of your employees plan to leave when the economy improves. Well the economy has and is improving? Is your organization at risk? Most companies think they clearly understand salespeople, what motivates them and how to motivate them to achieve super human sales results…and most are wrong. In this post I will share what sales super stars need, why sales stars will leave, and how to keep and attract top sales performers.

 

Like all my posts this post has been swirling around inside my mind for weeks. This one however has bounced around much longer. I have my opinions based on leading sales and marketing teams for over 30 years…do I share them? what if the experts have different opinions? My desire when I write it to share what I have found to work to help you make strategic corrections , adjustments before you find your business in a crisis of chaos. So how do I best serve you? The more I thought about it the more I delayed following up my last post; Why Do Star Salespeople Leave? (it is not what you think)… I decided to share what I have experienced and provide thought leadership from others in hopes of helping better serve you and your organization.

When I am asked to help a company turnaround their sales, increase sales, I always use the same process and it starts by identifying current market truths. I bring them into the light as the Bible guides us to do for once in the light we can clearly see them and address them before they become terminal. Then I seek internal truths about your companies’ true strengths, weaknesses and ideally clearly define your distinctive competence in the perception of your market. Once we have this information we can shape and design a go-to-market strategy that drives explosive results. So I want to use this same process to identify what I am referring to a “Sales Force Sink Hole” that could result in one….two…or even three of your top sales producers leaving your team and crippling your results. I hear that voice of clients past saying; let them leave I will just hire more… Before you quickly jump to being defensive you need to ask yourself some practical questions;

 

How long does it take for a new salesperson to gain traction and start truly adding value to your bottom line?

 

What is the cost of lost revenue when a Sales Super Star “just leaves”?

 

If you are truly honest, it takes much longer than it should for a new salesperson to gain traction and losing a top producing salesperson (or two or three) is estimated to cost you up to 10 X their annual compensation package. Note; When I keep saying one-two- or three it is because when your top salesperson leaves, studies show there is a high probability your other top performers will leave as well.  So why not intentionally create a culture that keeps and attracts sales super stars? Why not understand what truly makes sales stars tick and meet those needs?

 

What are the top 12 ways to keep and attract top sales super stars?

 

Trust

Be a company that has a history of doing what it promises, doing what it says it will do for internal and external customers

 

Communication

Take the time to clearly articulate expectations, objectives and why those objectives must be met, and quickly follow up on questions and concerns

 

Competitive

 

Top sales people are competitive, they need it, and they thrive on it so intentionally build it into your culture

 

Be a winning team

 

Top salespeople win, its what they do. They win new business, more orders from current customers and they desire to be on teams of other winners. Do you have a team of winners or do you need to fix areas of your company that are underperforming and have been for some time?

 

Driven

 

Most executives that do not have a sales background assume its all about “money”, but in reality top salespeople thrive in organizations that are driven to be the best just like your top salespeople.

 

Leaders have High Emotional Intelligence

 

Teams that are open and transparent, that welcome new solutions attract and retain top salespeople, they have the courage to say “I don’t have all the answers today but I know a process to find them, and I will”

 

Strong Values and Integrity

 

Do not ask your salespeople to compromise what is best long term for the market and its customers to hit short term financial objectives

 

Strategic Compensation Plan

 

A results driven plan that is easy to understand, reinforces desired objectives of your strategic plan, and has no cap, no claw backs

 

Listen

Organizations that learn to actively listen to identify and bust through common roadblocks in the sales process, listen and sense their market, that are agile and adapt quickly to strategic shifts in how buyers buy and the criteria they are now using to make buying decisions

 

Sharpen the Saw

 

An almost paranoid drive to constantly improve your people and processes with training and new technology

 

Passion

 

Make what you do about more than you, your numbers, make it a quest , top sales performer embrace objectives much bigger than themselves

 

Lead and Coach, do not Manage

 

We lead and coach people, we manage processes, don’t confuse the two

 

 

If you are committed to focusing on this area and intentionally creating a culture that keeps and attracts top sales performers then I recommend you also visit the below links to content to serve you and your team.

 

Clayton Christensen’s “How Will You Measure Your Life?”

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7007.html

 

Micromanagers: 6 Reasons your Employees Don’t Like You

http://www.recruiter.com/i/micromanagers-6-reasons-your-employees-dont-like-you/

 

War underway for top sales talent http://blog.sellingpower.com/gg/2013/06/3-reasons-to-apply-for-our-50-best-companies-to-sell-for-list.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fgerhard+%28SellingPower%29

 

10 laws of successful sales management http://www.thepeasegroup.com/_blog/Articles/post/The_Ten_Laws_of_Sales_Management/?goback=%2Egde_2392593_member_246416948

 

Communicate clear expectations http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57586930/great-leaders-manage-expectations/

 

How to hire, find a sales star http://www.salesforcesearch.com/download/eBook-How-to-Find-Assess-and-Hire-a-Sales-Star.pdf

 

 

Hire recruiter if you can http://web2.salesforcesearch.com/bid/148121/How-Can-Sales-Recruiters-Benefit-Your-Business?goback=%2Egde_71410_member_246012667

 

10 tips to motivate people http://humanresources.about.com/od/motivationrewardretention/a/motivating_employees.htm

 

How people are motivated to work http://humanresources.about.com/od/rewardrecognition/a/needs_work.htm

 

How to motivate sales people http://sales.about.com/od/trainingasalesstaff/a/Motivating-A-Sales-Team.htm

 

Want to Jump Start Sales and Morale? Write a “Passion Statement” For Your Business…. http://www.nosmokeandmirrors.com/2010/05/24/want-to-jump-start-sales-and-morale-write-a-%E2%80%9Cpassion-statement%E2%80%9D-for-your-business%E2%80%A6/

 

Does my business need a “passion statement”? Take a short quiz…  http://www.nosmokeandmirrors.com/2010/05/26/do-i-need-a-passion-statement-for-my-business-take-the-short-quiz%E2%80%A6/

 

I hope you found the above useful and you agree keeping sales happy and productive is about much more than just “money”.

 

      “Sales Super Stars leave when their intrinsic needs are not met and they validate this decision with extrinsic conditions”

–          Mark Allen Roberts

 

What have you found to keep and attract your top sales performers?

 

Do you agree with the above 12 ways to keep and attract top sales super stars?

 

Which of the above do you believe is most important? Why?

 

 

 

 

Why Do Star Salespeople Leave? (it is not what you think)…

 

 jump ship

I received a call from a past client a month or so ago, the CEO of a manufacturing company, and I could tell he was very upset. Being the typical busy business owner he jumped right into the reason for the call; “why do star salespeople just leave, no warning, …poof …they are gone , jumped ship, and now what am I going to do?” I asked a few more questions and Tom who had been his top salesperson for years just resigned and announced he will be working for another manufacturer in their industry that has some products that compete with my past client’s company. As we talked, it was clear this was first a big surprise, and CEO’s hate surprises that could interrupt their plan. Second, this experience has caused major unrest throughout the sales and senior management team. Third, he was concerned because Tom had most of their large key customers …What would they think? What has Tom said to them? …Is there a risk in losing their business?  Last the CEO had a hard time describing what he was personally feeling, but what heard was; betrayed, hurt, and concerned. “I just can’t believe it, after all Tom and I have been through he just leaves?”He was very concerned about how this exit would impact what should have been a high sales growth year. I agreed to connect with Tom and find out what made him jump ship so abruptly.

 

In any given year a business will have salespeople come and go. It is the nature of the sales beast. We created a high performance driven culture with a high degree of accountability in the work we did years earlier so it was not unusual to cull the sales herd and this typically resulted in under performing salespeople leaving of their own accord. However, when a sales star, a sales super star, A player  in this case, leaves it can be devastating.

Why do sales super stars leave?

I have seen this situation happen at a number of companies so I decided to spend some time in this blog discussing why sales super stars really leave.In my last blog post I shared the results of a survey I did in my various Linked In sales groups and networking with sales stars I have worked with over the years. I reviewed the most common reasons that sales mangers and business owners believe as to why sales leaders leave organizations; money, promotion, boss is a jerk…. I also asked sales super stars why they left past teams or why they would leave their current team.

What company leaders must realize is the reason most sales super stars leave is not “money”, money is  one  extrinsic measuring stick they use to measure how much your A player intrinsically feels  you value their contribution.

Intrinsic needs include feeling valued , trusting those they serve, and appreciated. They also include feeling challenged and learning new things as well as being proud of the work they do and the contribution they are making.

Extrinsic needs are things like base pay, commission, benefits, vacation time, bonuses, expense reimbursement , company car, vacation time policies and so on.

Sales super stars leave when their intrinsic needs are not being met and this is  validated by extrinsic conditions.

Keep in mind we are discussing” sales super stars”…these guys and gals who charge into a new market and open new business….they “just make it happen“…when a new product is launched they crush their numbers…your customer satisfaction surveys for them all come back A+….they consistently exceed sales quota…..their profit per sale is higher than the team average….their close rate is 20% greater …..and their cost per sale is the lowest. If you have a hard time determining who your star / A players are, you can find a great tool to do so here. These are the people you dream about finding, hiring and keeping so it should be no surprise when they leave it is often a shock. Sales super stars know how to drive results. In this post I plan to share the real reasons why they leave, actions you or members of your team have done ( or not done)  that have asked a sales super star to leave. What I am not discussing are personal life issues that cause a sales super star to leave like needing to care for their children or an elderly parent, or a health concern that makes them have to leave the job.

 

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs work he shared the continuum of needs most people have.

Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs

 

The needs start with the basic Physiological needs for things like food, water and so on and graduate to self-actualization needs for things like creativity, spontaneity, and morality to name a few. The ERG theory followed with a simpler model (Existence, Relatedness and Growth).  This model is what market leading business owners intuitively think about as they develop their sales cultures and compensation programs. However the disconnect I argue occurs in sales super stars at non market leading companies because business owners think if they take care of basic extrinsic needs their sales stars will be happy. Sales super stars however know their value and are driven by something much deeper and pay is something they know they can earn and expect anywhere. To put it another way, they are good, they know they are good, and they are not worried about being unemployed for long should something occur in their current job that is unacceptable. The threat of a compensation decrease does not scare them into submission like it does average or below average salespeople who have nowhere else to go. Sales super stars  know how to help buyers buy and they know if not treated well where they are they can confidently and quickly find new employment to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and so on. These sales super stars have a much greater need to feel valued, trusted, and to trust those they serve with their skills. They also see themselves as winners and must feel they are on and supported by a winning team . To make their value even greater a recent article it shared how the gap between good and great sales people seems to be growing wider…and sales super stars know it.

 

A better model can be seen from the work of the famous book: The five dysfunctions of a team as shown below.

fivedysfunctions

 

 

 

The reason why this is much more relevant to sales super stars is it is built on a foundation of trust, an intrinsic need. This model was designed to be used with teams of people to create a strong foundation that ultimately leads to best in class performance. In this case I want you to consider the above in the context of a sales super star. Your sales super star is a star at what they do and will be your star as long as there is a foundation of trust. How much do they trust you? How much do they feel valued by and trusted by you? If there is a break in that foundation; intrinsic trust, they will seek extrinsic factors to validate their belief, and when they find them…poof…they just leave.

 

I hear some of you saying…enough of the Psycho mumbo jumbo…so let me share common scenarios that illustrate why sales super stars actually leave.( and it did not happen in just a “poof “instant)

 

 

Scenario One: they left for more money

What you heard was they left for more money…here’s what really happened.

A lack of trust occurrence– they sold something and it had huge quality issues, they are asked to sell a new product that is not ready to go to market yet, they are given an unrealistic goal since they seem to crush their goal every year anyway. They made a large sale and when they receive their paycheck they are informed the compensation plan changed. They made a large and profitable sale and no one said atta boy…

Feeling they are not appreciated – may have been called out in a meeting in front of peers over something that was not their fault, criticized for misspelled words in their monthly report that highlights once again they blew past their sales goals or some other minor issue while they continue to crush their key sales performance indicators.

Validation of feelings of being unappreciated–  a change in pay, maybe a change in benefits, a new compensation model, a new expense limit program, take away company credit card asked to use personal credit card and expense reimbursement is very slow, change of sales territory, and a new targeted income model with a capped pay plan (nothing demotivates a sales super star like a cap on compensation).

Put out some feelers about job opportunities

Poof they just leave…

 

 

 

 

 

 Scenario two; Left because boss was” a jerk”

What you hear is they left because they thought their boss was “a jerk” a real “ass-kicker”.

 Not trusting new boss/ boss kicks ass and provides no help or assistance to help him hit quota- boss lacks product, market and management training,  in a recent survey of sales people only 34% of salespeople believed their manager and leaders knew what they were doing, boss believes the beatings will continue until the performance improves.  New boss implements micro management tactics and challenges how the sales super star spends their time and who they meet with although they continue to exceed sales performance indicators. Sales star feels he is not trusted, does not trust boss, does not trust where the company seems to be going.

 Concerned about the direction of company if they would hire someone like this – they feel a cultural shift, often not an intentional strategic shift. They refuse to be on a team managed by someone who adds no value to growing sales. “Help me hit my numbers or get out of my way.

 No longer trusting ownership and senior leadership- they have to know this is happening right?

 Feeling new boss does not appreciate nor value their contribution to the team’s overall sales performance, access to upper management cut off my new boss

 Possibly has a run in with boss privately or publicly-  new sales managers with low emotional quotients are often intimidated by sales super stars

 New boss does not back sales super star with customers or upper management when conflict occurs- new sales manager has strong political experience and plays it safe and fails to address real issues

 Sales star loses relationship with owners who in the past have shared how much they valued his contribution – you always had an open door to your team, particularly when you were much smaller , but you have grown and hired people to manage the front line so you can run the business.

 Puts out a few feelers

 Poof …Leaves team

 

 

 

 

 Scenario three: They left for a “better opportunity”

What you heard was they left for a “better opportunity”.

Quality changes for the worse, product, service, communication, lack of new innovative products, no new sales tools, poor marketing, no leads

 Feeling of being disconnected, alone in the market and unable to share all the quality issues that are hurting the achievement of sales results because it is not “politically safe” and they are accused of “just making excuses”

 Not trusting the company, what it says, or the products you are selling will do what they are promised to do in your literature

 Concerned about personal reputation in market

Missed a sales quota and gets less commission or no commission

 Lost a key account to a competitor with new innovative solutions that do not have quality issues

 Unresolved product quality issues from past sales sucking them into conflicts when they should be selling new opportunities 

Relationship with long term key account strained

 Less commission again, had to explain why to their spouse

 Put out feelers

 Poof…Leaves team

 

 

 Scenario four; Sales super star got a great offer they could not refuse

What you heard was the competitor made them an amazing compensation offer.

 Sales star sees favoritism to under performing sales associate(s) – basically poor results are not addressed and under performance is ignored and politically correctness is rewarded.

Sales Star is financially impacted by poor performance of under performing team member – the group’s sales number are down so everyone suffers, maybe the under performing team member is in product development and they keep throwing products over the wall the market does not want…need… or are not finished, or marketing failing to produce qualified leads, or manufacturing.

Sales star disciplined for results out of  their control – your comp plan is weighted to drive new product sales and the new product you launched is poorly designed, late, and has numerous quality issues so the sales star fails to hit compensation levels. The launch is late but the sales goal by month stays the same. Marketing does a “soft launch” and there are no or very little qualified leads and or support.

Under performing team members allowed to go on unchecked- poor performance issues not addressed, situations do not change, but sales star told ; “ you are not paid to tell me why you can’t sell, you are paid to hit your numbers, just make it happen”

Sales star wants to be working with other winners not B and C players- super stars want and need to be on teams of other super stars. They lack an understanding or the patience to accept team members who are not accountable

Put out feelers…

 Poof…they leave

 

Scenario five; offered a much higher position with more responsibility

What you heard was he or she was offered a much bigger job, role , with a competing firm.

No new products for 18-24 months – sales person sees competition launching new products, new marketing support tools and your team has not launched anything new.

Focus on making more profit from current customers and not growing market- the mood, strategy seems to have shifted and salesperson is hitting their numbers but can achieve those results with three-four hours of work per day.

They become bored- they are not having their intrinsic need to feel challenged, learn new things , “take new hills“, met

No Longer proud of what they do

Put out a few feelers…

Poof…they just leave

 

As you can see a sales super star does not just wake up one day and decide to leave. As a matter of fact sales super stars are actively recruited on a frequent basis because they are so good. They stay when they trust you, your company and feel their extra effort is appreciated. They listen to new job inquires when their trust is broken, they feel they are not supported, not valued, asked to sell something of poor quality and or find themselves on teams that lack a commitment and accountability to the goals of the organization.

What my past client was feeling was a lack of loyalty after all these years, and the sales star selfishly chasing bigger bucks for the short term. When I called Tom what I found was the reason he left was rooted in a thought that became a belief many months earlier and only validated by some external, extrinsic needs changed. As the CEO’s business grew he hired a number of new people; CFO, COO, VP of Sales and Marketing. Tom felt distanced from the CEO and his efforts to reconnect were seen as “not following the chain of command” and he was reprimanded by the new VP of Sales and Marketing.  Tom was hitting his numbers out of the park, but now the new team members were changing the compensation program, implementing a number of new rules regarding expenses and limiting what Tom can do out in the market without their approval. Tom felt unappreciated  he lacked faith and trust in the new management team, and felt he would be valued more somewhere else. The competitor has been after him for years and as Tom shared and it took one meeting over coffee to receive an offer. The offer was a little more money upfront, but he would once again be reporting to the CEO, and they had a number of new and exciting products to launch into current and new markets. The variable portion of his compensation was uncapped once again and he saw a huge opportunity and challenge.

The intrinsic fuse was lit when they stopped trusting you….and Poof they are gone when that fuse meets some external validation.

 

Have you lost a sales super star on your team in the last 12 months? Why?

 

What is the value of a sales super star compared to an average sales person in your organization?

 

Do your sales super stars feel appreciated and valued? How do you show them?

 

Or are your sales people treated like sales mercenaries and told to “just make it happen or I will find someone else who can” ( if so I promise they are already looking for new teams to serve)

 

As a leader/owner of your organization do you know how your salespeople are being treated? If so how, what have you put in place to prevent an “ass kicker” from chasing away your best people?

 

The economy is rebounding and our customers and potential customers have cash reserves they want to spend to solve problems they have needed to solve for years. It is the perfect condition for sales super stars to create sales velocity for your team and add real dollars to your bottom line. Will your huge growth year be sucked into a sales force sink hole when one, two or even three of your top salespeople leave? How can you be sure your year is built on a strong foundation for sales growth? In a recent survey 60% of employees said they will change jobs when the economy improves . What would happen in your company if the 60% who leave are all your A players ( and may become competitors)? In my next post I will discuss how to keep sales super stars on your team and how to attract other market leading sales super stars to want to join your team.


As the owner and or leader of your business I can hear some of you saying; “Mark, the above examples are obvious reasons why anyone would leave including a sales super star. However in my company this would never happen.

Are you sure? I have seen each  of the above, and many more occur in companies just like yours.

 

 

 

 

Add Inside Sales…Fix Sales Problems

"serving customers with inside sales"

by Mark Allen Roberts

In my last post I shared how salespeople need to learn their A B C’s in terms of account segmentation to insure their salespeople  are spending time in areas that match your sales plan and insure sales goals are achieved. Nothing drives your CEO crazier than finding out your sales team is not hitting plan, and six months into the year he discovers sales is not executing the go-to-market plan everyone agreed to follow. One way I have used to insure sales teams execute sales plans is the implementation of inside sales. The first reaction I always receive when presenting inside sales is:we can not afford it. My answer is always;

You Can Not Afford Not To Have Inside Sales to Hit Sales Goals

In this post I will share my thought process on why inside sales is even more critical in today’s selling environment than ever before, how inside sales can turn cold calls into warm calls, increase sales with your C accounts, increase new customers, and reduce your current cost per sale and add more profit to your bottom line. Inside sales also offers a number of other benefits we will discuss, but I hope the above mentioned benefits are enough to keep you with me.

How has the sales environment changed in the last 5-8 years?

I used the same process I would use in a market trying to determine shifts, I interviewed a number of sales people and listened to what they are experiencing selling products in today’s market. Some of the common comments included:

My buyers have to justify each expenditure to the “higher ups”

C-level executives need to sign off on all orders

About 70% of what marketing gives me I do not use.

I have to speak with all kinds of people I never had to sell before; CTO, CMO, CEO, CFO…

Customers are not stocking up and they are taking much longer to buy, while our marketing programs try to reward customers to buy volume, but they are buying Just In Time

My buyers have the C-suite recommending competing vendors to our products and my buyers are spending time chasing these leads the C-suite read about or heard about at the country club…

My buyers say they are “cautiously optimistic” about our economy and therefore are not cutting Purchase Orders

Couple some of the above with the studies that indicate 70% of buying is occurring before the buyer makes contact with a salesperson even the most adamant skeptic must agree buyers are buying differently today and the sales process must adapt if you plan on hitting your sales numbers.

Inside Sales can turn Cold Calls into Warm calls

In addition to staying in contact, touching, your C Accounts, inside sales can establish trigger alerts through Google Alerts that give them a heads up when a trigger event occurs that may indicate a sales opportunity. For example, let’s say a manufacturing plant expanding has been proven to be a trigger event for turning suspect customers in to prospects and even quotes. Inside sales can establish a limitless number of Google Alerts to let them know when a trigger event occurs in the market. Your alert would look something like; “Ohio Plant expansion”. When that alert is triggered inside sales can search Linked in by company, make phone calls and send your product information to the right person ant the right time. Marketing should provide template tools to insure the communication connects to possible buyer pain points for this type of buyer by market. If the alert is for one of those large accounts, in your market sweet spot you have wanted to sell, inside sales will send information and make contact then introduce the field sales person. A common transition would sound something like ; “ as we have discussed it sounds like you are exploring products to support your plant expansion, we have our product specialist in your market on September 15th, would you like me to set up a time for him to meet with you and better understand how we can help you? “ I recommend providing inside sales a finder’s fee bonus on accounts they feed to outside sales that turn into orders. I often use some % of the first order’s profit.

Increase sales with your C accounts

Working with the VP of Sales and marketing you can establish strategic touches. Some that I have used include;

  • “thank you for your recent order, people who purchased ____have also purchased _____”
  • “I noticed you have not ordered since __________ and I wanted to check in on you”
  • “You asked to be kept in the loop on new products, did you see our _______ click the link in this email and it will send you to product information”
  • Promotions – I recommend a quarterly product focus, and have inside sales send an email and within 7 business days call to follow up, “did you see we are running a promotion on _______”

The key focus is service not sales. Inside sales tone and voice should be about helping the customer. All communications must feel relevant to your buyers and timely. When I say timely I am referring to communications that feel like they came just when the buyer needed them, like you know them.

Increase new customers

As we discussed above, inside sales will be constantly being alerted to triggers that may lead to new business. In addition, now that field sales have only A and B accounts, they can work the targeted accounts in their market opportunity profile.

Reduce your current cost per sale and add more profit to your bottom line

What does it cost your company to have a field salesperson call on an account?  For years I have used $500 as the cost of a call, but it may have gone up. You need to add the salesperson’s base, expenses, medical and all overhead to determine a cost. I have heard some people tackle this different way by having a daily cost of a salesperson model. Whatever you use, there is a cost. What is the cost of losing a key customer? The cost of losing a C account? What does an inside salesperson cost? In most cases their targeted compensation is 1/2 that of a field salesperson, and their only expenses are added phone calls and postage.

If you do not have inside sales today, I recommend a phased approach with regards to field sales commissions. In some cases, which will be an eye opener to many, the C accounts are the vast majority of your field sales commissions. Let me say that again in a different way; the majority of the commissions you are paying your best and brightest field salespeople who are not growing current accounts or opening targeted new accounts would have probably come in anyway, even without a field salesperson. I often implement a split commission structure in the first year as we transition to inside sales and this gives field sales time to refocus and not realize too much of a hit on their targeted compensation in year one.

Inside sales helps focus  on creating the greatest return on sales investment

Quick numbers…. Let’s say your field sales team member is costing you $700 per day. Let’s assume, because the field sales person has time to work current customers they increase their base key account sales by only 3%. Let’s also assume you reduce your account attrition by one key account per territory, and the salesperson only opens 4 new key accounts per year. In addition, as I experienced personally, your C accounts are now feeling you care about them , that they are important , and you are reaching out frequently with solutions to problems they were surprised you knew they had and C account sales grows over 10%. Inquiries from the internet speak to a live person and have their questions answered quickly and all inquires are treated like they could be customers. Your cost to support C accounts has decreased by 50% increasing your ROI on sales compensation invested…..I’ll say it again ;

You Can Not Afford Not To Have Inside Sales to Hit Sales Goals

The last benefit I also realized from inside sales is it often becomes your farm team for field sales. Your inside salespeople gain valuable experience often dealing with some of your most demanding customers. They learn your product lines and the problems they solve, your markets, and as your team grows often they can be called on to serve in a field sales capacity. They also learn to rely on the buying process you have taught them and when they venture out into the market follow it because they have experienced how having a sales process that mirrors how customers want to buy drives sales results.

So how about you…do you have an inside sales model?

What benefits have you realized from having inside sales?

What do you do strategically to insure inside sales and field sales work well together?

Given the shifts in how buyers are buying today, an inside sales position is key to insuring your sales team makes quota.

Does Your Sales Compensation Plan Create “ Commission Junkies”?

by Mark Allen Roberts


For as long as I have been in sales and sales leadership I have heard  true sales velocity is about carefully balancing the carrot and the stick to manage your salespeople. If your sales compensation program relies on unrealistic goals and heavily weighted sales compensation plan based on a carrot too far away or too big…you are creating “Commission Junkies”.

Commission Junkies are slapping their cell phones and typing follow up “where’s my order” emails as fast as their fingers can move hoping to find their next fix.

Let me ask you….Who would you prefer to help you buy something? Would you prefer someone who takes the time to truly understand your problem to be solved and understands the costs associated with that problem? Or someone who is obviously all about making his sales number” and “making his commission”? Do you want a professional sales person asking questions to understand your needs, or someone so focused on closing the sale they seem desperate? You might say;

“Mark that’s a dumb question…I want a sales consultant who helps me solve my problem, who understands my problem to be solved as if it were their own”.

(Quick look at your sales compensation program, and ask is that what you are rewarding?) …Really?

There is an old Native American saying: “the wolf we feed is the one that grows.”

What behaviors does your current sales compensation program feed?

OK….then why do so many sales compensation programs create what I call “Commission Junkies” who are desperately chasing that next fix of commission because their total compensation is heavily weighted on objectives that do not match your (published) culture?

Poor sales compensation models create bad behaviors in the field that can result in Brand Damage for your overall product offering.

So how do you know if your sales plan is poorly designed?

  • sales rep goals do not align with corporate overall strategy
  • your reps feel the goals are unobtainable
  • your reps feel the activities to hit their goals are out of their control
  • too many goals
  • a commission plan that requires a CPA to understand it
  • “commission claw backs”
  • commissions are not weighted based on corporate objectives
  • sales goals built from the board room and sent down to sales team to “make it happen
  • it is the same plan you have used for the past 2 years
  • the variable portion of total sales compensation is weighted too high
  • goals that change frequently
  • you have a targeted compensation plan with a commission cap

As I shared in my last post, leading salespeople is not as complicated as we often make it. The very essence of most salespeople is to take the path of least resistance that drives their desired income. Put another way, we have a high Utilitarian characteristic that makes us wired to want the maximum return on our efforts in the shortest amount of time. .Salespeople are competitive and welcome stretch goals that are obtainable.

Sales Goals created with Market Opportunity Profiles drive results and the sales behaviors you want in your market.

The wrong sales compensation plan creates “Commission Junkies” only out to make their next fix… their next commission. They become so about the next commission and who can create the next order the fastest they often fail to execute the sales plan. As I shared in a previous post, nothing drives CEO’s more nuts than finding out the sales plan is not being executed six months into the year.

A few questions for you….

How are your sales to plan Year to date?

Are you at your targeted sales and profit goals?

Is your sales team meeting and achieving their new product sales?

Are you opening the targeted new accounts you forecasted (needed to) open this year?

With has high as 50%- 70% of sales people not meeting plan this year, if you answered “no” to any of the above you are not alone. Last year alone the average sales team had 50-60% of salespeople not meeting plan and their goals this year went up on average 33%. Knowing you are not alone does not solve the problem or make you, your boss, owner, and or investors happy. Far too often a leading reason sale execution fails is due to your sales compensation program creating commission junkies and not consultative sales partners.

Do you want to quickly assess if you have sales consultants creating great experiences with your brand or Commission Junkies causing Brand Damage?

Ask your buyers if they believe your salesperson understands the problem to be solved and is in the process of presenting a total solution.

If you find some of your team are Commission Junkies there is still time to rehabilitate them by creating Market Opportunity Profiles. You can find a good article about creating sales compensation plans here if this is an area you plan to work on.