CHICAGO - Sales People are different than the rest of your employees. The biggest difference is that sales people are typically variable compensated; they have a responsibility to bring in the revenue that drives the profit. This doesn't make them any more special than your other employees, just different, and you have to treat them differently.
By ForceLogix CEO Patrick Stakenas
You can get away with quarterly, semi or annual reviews with most employees but you cannot with sales people. Companies are often fooled into believing that with annual reviews and the right compensation plan or the right incentive package, people will perform to expected standards. The fact is they will not or perhaps cannot.
Yes, sales people must be properly incented but there is much, much more to the equation to get the results you need for your company to hit prescribed targets. Look at managing sales people with a strategic approach; this is a long term approach with built in coaching, that allows you to execute quarter over quarter, year over year.
Strategic Performance management enables the proper alignment of measurement and tracking of individual and team goals to corporate goals. In addition, this strategic approach supports career development, planned turnover and succession planning.
· Consistent, accurate compensation plans provide security and trust as well as motivation. A standalone compensation system enforces policy compliance, and can typically build trust with the sales people. But, the system must be tied into your performance management system to track if compensation is driving the behavior you desire. When combined with strategic performance management, companies can pay employees consistently based on their contributions to the overall success of the organization.
· Goal alignment provides for measurement and motivation. Your business will benefit from having sales people focused on and accomplishing appropriate leading indicators that are aligned to corporate objectives. This is not possible without technology to automate and objectively align sales people to the rest of the organization. It is just too hard to track and manage without technology.
· Measuring, tracking and reporting keeps sales people on track. Good sales people are interested in how they are doing, all of the time. Poor sales people don't want to be measured. There is typically a common thread with good or great sales people that want to improve their job skills and advance or make more money. By tracking, measuring and reporting you will know who these people are and can build a stronger team. Technology tools to measure competencies and define successes are useful in helping sales people develop their long-term goals and strategies. Organizations who take this step are or will be far ahead of their competition.
· Approach sales coaching with rigor. Sales people can learn, just like great athletes can learn. Just read about any great athlete in history and behind them are lessons, coaches, practice, technique, continuous learning. Sales people must be coached and you must take it seriously as a company. You must make sure your managers have the data to coach, that they understand how important it is to coach. The Conference Board of Executives cites a 17% improvement in revenue when sales people are consistently coached. Make this a priority.
Don't make it hard. Using a system and defining the strategy will involve integration with other systems and this is indeed key. But integration should not be a show stopper. Strategic sales leaders who have lofty goals such as increasing sales, aligning sales people with business objectives, paying for performance, managing out poor performers and ultimately implementing sales performance processes that have a direct and measurable effect on the bottom line do not let integration get in their way. These savvy folks have come to realize that an integrated approach is necessary and work through it. If properly understood and data minimized to reflect only those attributes that affect the outcome, integration becomes a non issue.
The Strategic Sales Performance space is growing at over 40% according to Ventana Research, Gartner and other industry analyst. Currently it is estimated that over $3 billion dollars annually is spent on technology to support sales performance and as companies budget for 2009 there is a strong indication that businesses are taking this process seriously.
It is time to look differently at your sales team and take the steps to initiate the process to finally get consistent positive results week over week and quarter over quarter.
By ForceLogix CEO Patrick Stakenas
The Management Curve is a blog dedicated to discussion and debate about the impact sales metrics programs such as CRM, Sales Performance Management and Sales Force Automation Programs are having and will have on how the sales function is managed. Hosted by Paul McCord, the blog also features articles and commentary by other sales trainers, consultants, product developers, and the sales managers and salespeople who actually use the products.