Motivating sales staff

Commission schemes are a typical approach to motivating sales staff. The question of whether or not individuals are truly motivated just by money is a debate that has raged for decades. But, in our experience of incentive schemes it is the design of the scheme that is crucial to its success, and to avoiding disputes in any “departure”. You could test your design ideas out with us, we have the experience.

We suggest starting with considering how to recruit and select your sales staff. It is best to prepare a “person specification” in advance of any advertisement as not all sales positions have the same demands. Taking a second opinion on the detail of the specification can provide invaluable insights into the characteristics to seek in your ideal salesperson. A good “person specification” makes shortlisting much easier, more accurate and less time consuming.

Inevitably sales people are good at selling themselves (as are their agents). This makes an interview alone into a risky method of selection. We have a range of suggestions available, including psychometric testing, that can help establish whether a candidate meets your person specification and is a good match for your organisation and team.

The “induction” process is a good opportunity to have the new recruit “bond” with the organisation. It pays to spend time here. Far too many new employees leave within the first four months, necessitating re-running the recruitment process all over again. Nonetheless, if you have made a mistake, and have the wrong person, it may be best to re-run the process earlier rather than later. For the record, a 50% success rate in a new recruit’s performance matching expectations is about the norm (or even slightly better).

How your sales people treat your clients or customers will be a reflection of how you treat them. For example, if you want your sales people to listen to customers, then you have to listen to your sales people too. Good leadership is crucial to motivated staff whether In a sales role or elsewhere. If you have doubts about your success level here, then consider talking to us about mentoring, or undertaking training.

Remember that praising your sales staff will, alone, not motivate them; especially if it is false. It could even make them complacent. So be careful to be honest. If at some point in the future you feel the need to part company, a glowing performance review may make a subsequent dismissal unfair.

Finally, if your sales staff are fully motivated you might not need to pay as much (or even any) commission.

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