How Wrong are Company Methods to Rank and Compensate Salespeople?

Last week I met with a CEO ready to hire a new salesperson. I asked what role the salesperson would have. She (and many others I have met with over the years) said, “They have to hunt for new business and take care of all our existing clients.”

That’s a little like asking an outfielder to pitch: they both play baseball but have very different skill sets. If you have a small team, people have to play a variety of roles. But if I can find a great pitcher…

And then our conversation went to compensation: “How should I pay this new person? How can I motivate them?”

Then the conversation got even more complicated. She asked, “I sure can’t pay them as much as I’m paying my top salesperson!”

When I work with companies to find great salespeople, our first step is to gain great clarity on what the role is and isn’t. What experiences, skills, cognitive abilities, results, attitude and habits are required?

When we review the sales process, where in that process is this person working: at the beginning (hunter), at the middle (qualifier and consultative salesperson) or at the end (Closer), or do they work the entire process?

Are they working in a large, current account to get greater penetration (Farmer) or is the goal to maintain current accounts and be sure they are not lost (account managers)? Or is their primary task to drive incremental, new business?

This article by Dave Kurlan provides some great perspective on how to look at your salespeople, and might change how and who to compensate differently.

Enjoy!

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