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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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…)

Sell to Their Value, Not Yours

Over breakfast the other day, my friend mentioned how he was running in the morning but that the weather was killing him.  I then belted out, without thinking, “join the YMCA you can afford it”.  The look from my friend said it all.  See, he could more than afford the monthly membership to the YMCA, however, he never joined because he wasn’t sure if it was worth it.  This is a common mistake that salespeople make.  They pitch on what they “think” someone could or should buy, not necessarily what they want to buy.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t show a prospect premium items.  You should, but
only because you believe that the product you’re pitching is the best value for the prospect’s investment.

The secret to doing this correctly is to find the buyers’ value.  Below are subjects that can help identify what is valuable to them.  Once you find that, take those values and compare to your offering(s). (more…)

LinkedIn is the New Cold Call

Well…its not really, but let me tell you that it’s a nice way to compliment your current outbound efforts.  See, I believe that the cold call will never die.  However, I’m also a believer that you can take a cold call and effectively downsize the number of calls it takes to get to the decision maker.  LinkedIn is one of those techniques that you can use to complete this action.

To do so, you must first have an active account that is COMPLETED.  By completed I mean that you need to have a profile pic, past work experiences, list of organizations that you’re involved in, and give an overall picture of who you are.  If you can, get recommendations from past clients that you’ve helped.  You can complete a profile in only a couple of minutes, so there really aren’t any excuses on why you shouldn’t do this.

So, how exactly can LinkedIn shorten the process and help you sell?  Keep reading. (more…)

5 Tips on Speaking with a Gatekeeper

More times than note, the sales process begins with non decision makers AKA gatekeepers.  Keep in mind that a gatekeeper is not always a receptionists or secretary.

I wrote earlier about how to get around a gatekeeper by calling when at times when he/she won’t be at their desk, or at times when generally a decision maker is available. However, if you must talk to a gatekeeper, you better do it correctly or you have no shot at getting transferred.

Most salespeople simply try to bulldog through the gatekeeper. Does this approach sound like yours?

Gatekeeper: Hello ABC Company
You: Yes, may I speak to Jim
Gatekeeper: May I tell him this is regarding
You: Blah blah blah…you’re done at this point. 

As soon as the gatekeeper has to ask you why you’re calling, you’re pegged as a salesperson…a pushy one at that.  To get through a gatekeeper, you must first understand why you are being blocked. There are a few reasons.

  •  That you’re calling to offer something that won’t be beneficial to the company
  • That you’re hiding something or being a seedy salesperson
  • That you’re a pushy jerk, and if you’re a jerk to the gatekeeper, you are going to be a jerk to the DM as well
  • That you’re going to take a lot of the DMs time
  • You’re offering something that may make her look foolish for passing you through to his/her boss

Really, what it boils down to, is that there is a perception that you will make the gatekeeper look bad if they transfer you.

However, you want to do the opposite.  The gatekeeper should be worried about getting in trouble if he/she DOESN’T transfer you because their boss is going to miss out on a great opportunity.

You can do this by: (more…)

Change Can Be Good, If Its For The Right Reason

I have hundreds of conversations each week with salespeople about their career path.  It seems as if most are looking at the “greener grass”.  Either in terms of an employer or in position.

Lots of salespeople elect to change positions for the wrong reasons.  Some covet management positions simply so they don’t have to make sales calles.  Others want to look for a “better” employer because they don’t like their current one, or because the new one may sound sexier…they do this without thinking that the new employer might be the same as the old, or that management might not be their best fit.  In essence, they change just because.

The thing is, is that there is truly no such thing as a greener pasteur…only ones that look greener when you’re not actually there.

What really needs to happen is a self-evaluation.  Not in terms of skill set, but what you are looking for in an employer and career.  You need to look for the qualities that you want in an employer and position and base your decision on that.

While I cannot tell you what you should be looking for (you need to determine that), I can tell you what I would look for.  I defined them as the five (5) “E”s. (more…)

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