5 Considerations to Design the Perfect Compensation Plan

Compensation is possibly the most important and the most contested part of the sales department.  Heads of sales, human resources, and finance often have different views of what is the optimal compensation structure.  While there are many ways to determine compensation, there are several factors that should be considered when designing your plan.

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Process or Talent? Which do you take?

That’s an easy one.  Process always trumps talent.

Before you get upset and start defending how talented your staff is and that you couldn’t generate the numbers that you do without them, imagine how much more productive they would be if you gave them leads that close at four times the normal rate?  Or if you have sales events for them to use that routinely lead to $100,000 days?

I’m not going to completely define what process should be in place, but I will say that as a sales manager, process always trumps talent. Here is why.

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Improve Your Closing Ratio

This is a trick post.  No, I don’t mean that you won’t learn how to improve your sales.  A good pitch with superior questions is the best way to improve sales. This is a fall back step for the time(s) that your pitch doesn’t go as planned and you receive an objection.

Reality is, is that most first (and second and third for that matter) objections are simply screens to the real reason the prospect isn’t buying.  The prospect doesn’t want to say no to your offer so they throw up a simple excuse to get you to go away.  A majority of salespeople simply accept that objection, try to handle it as best as they can through some methods they’ve learned, and then become frustrated that the prospect still won’t buy.

Now, most trainers teach objection resolutions that revolve around empathy and understanding, which I agree that you need those emotions and approach.  However, most salespeople will show empathy in the place of guts.

Beating the objection is a three (3) step process that will either lead to the true objection or a sale.

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Selling in a Tough Environment

Lets face it, most of us work in a difficult sales environment.  This doesn’t mean that we sell a bad product or work for a bad company/organization.  What it means is that we face fierce competition or work in an economy that is weak.  When unemployment is up, like it is in a lot of cities, it makes it very difficult to sell a product that can be labeled as a discretionary or “luxury” spend.  Put in competition for those discretionary dollars and you now face a difficult selling situation.

Given that we’re in these situations, it doesn’t make any sense to make it difficult to buy.  However, some of us still do that.  Status quo does not work in these situations.  So, whether you work for a team in the middle of a labor situation, work for a team that has no owner or an owner in financial distress, or you simply work for a team with a “rebuilding” product.  You can still put up league topping numbers if you create a low barrier to entry and sell your sellable assets.

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Make Informed Calls, Not Cold Calls

You are sitting at your desk making sales calls.   But now the computer is missing. A pile of 8 x 5 cards is stacked in front of you. Each card contains only a name, address and phone number.  Sliding your hand into your pocket for your cell phone, you find only lint. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over….into the Twilight Zone.

I don’t think any of us want to go back to the times of index cards and no computers.  How successful would be today if all you had was a name and number on a piece of paper?  Luckily for you, those days are over.

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New Year, New Goals

It’s now the end of January and you should have had time to reflect on your achievements from the past year.  If you’re still reflecting, now is the time to stop.  The top producers forget about the past and are always moving forward toward the future.  They are not content with past success or past earnings, they simply know that the revenue must keep coming in for them to earn commissions and eventually get promoted.

My new year’s advice is:  (more…)

Effort or Experience? If You Must Choose, Which One Do You Pick?

The ultimate question for managers.  Most want both, and if you can find a salesperson that does both, do whatever you can to keep that person forever.  However, many times it’s a struggle.  For one reason or another, experience leads to less effort and sales behaviors that have the potential of harming the department.

So I ask the question – How do you handle the experienced salesperson who can put up some numbers but doesn’t exude the principles and effort that you would like in your department?

Here is the rub.  Salespeople believe that as long as they are putting up numbers that everything is okay.  They believe that revenue dominates every other action that may be displayed.  To a certain point, they are correct, however, we all know that other actions are taken into consideration.

This situation can be defined in that age old saying “Risk vs Reward”.  How much do you value this salesperson’s production versus the potential damage that is being done to the department. (more…)

Time to Self Motivate, Double Down Effort, and Work Smart

Ever find yourself in a sales rut?  You’ve been cruising along putting up numbers but then suddenly your pipeline is empty.

Often times it is the successful salespeople who get stuck in neutral first.  They believe that they can kick it into high gear later on, but a majority of the time this simply backfires and they suddenly find themselves in the middle of the pack.  This is how a top salesperson turns into a mediocre one…they put themselves in neutral and they don’t take advantage of every opportunity. (more…)

Three Tips for Sales Presentations

Its funny when you are the prospect being pitched by some sales guy, it is also very interesting.  You get to critique his technique, you know what he is trying to do, you know when the close is coming, and you can talk circles around his pitch.  However, when you run into a really good salesperson, you find yourself enthralled with their talent.  I had this experience last week when a salesperson visited me at my home.  That salesperson was experienced, in both age and years of selling, and while I thought I knew how I was going to stop his antics, he surprised me by providing credibility, solving objections before they occur, and had the guts to close on the spot.  Lets revisit his techniques. (more…)

Find Better Talent

Sales managers spend a lot of time interviewing potential candidates.  The unfortunate thing is that most of this time is wasted because the interview process isn’t effective.  What I mean is that the interview itself is often canned and a true feel for the candidate is not received.

How can we make it more effective?

Some things are better than others.

Their personality is better than yours:  I don’t mean this in true fashion.  What I mean is that managers inadvertently look for people who act and have the same background as them.  This is often a mistake as the only person who can be you is you.  Just because a candidate doesn’t have the same work experience, doesn’t mean they won’t be a killer employee.

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