Part 2 of 2
In my 25+ years of Sales Management, I have identified five keys to “SALES” that make the most impact, yet unfortunately are often the most underappreciated and underinvested areas of sales.
S – Sales Process
A – A+ Sales Talent
L – Leadership
E – Effectiveness
S – Sales Compensation Plans
In part 1 we focused on the first two keys, Sales Process and A+ Sales Talent. You can read about how they impact your bottom line here. Today, we will focus on the last three items.
Who the heck manages all of this? Most business owners are not innate salespeople. They are experts at their products and services and have likely become proficient at running the business, but they have never truly had sales or sales management training. Yet, they are managing the sales function by default.
Finding and keeping a strong sales leader is the secret sauce that binds all the elements of the sales infrastructure and execution. Without strong leadership, these fundamentals often aren’t successfully implemented nor executed.
An exceptional, experienced sales leader can adeptly bring all of these components together. They have implemented sales processes and written compensation plans that drive optimal behavior. They work with Marketing to take the go-to-market, branding, and positioning work and translate it for the sales team to ensure effective, influential sales messaging. They have experience recruiting and hiring successful salespeople and know what to look for. And they hold the sales team accountable, making sure everyone is doing their part and on task for their sales numbers.
I work with many sales teams across different industries, but one commonality I notice is salespeople and sales organizations struggle with how to simplify their message into something concise and effective. The majority of the time when I ask for the elevator pitch, I would need to be on the Empire State Building elevator in order to hear it all! A good pitch needs to transcend the product/service and create an emotion or feeling of wanting to hear more. Sales organizations unfortunately fall into the trap of wanting their elevator pitch to explain what they do instead of why it matters.
Establishing the elevator pitch is not only a first step, but it serves as a great roadmap for how to become more effective during the sales cycle. Make sure your sales team is influencing their meetings and not just facilitating them with some key strategies:
- Get to the Point –Capture the key themes and ideas and be concise with them.
- Differentiate –How are we different? Why are we better? State it, reaffirm it, and summarize it repeatedly.
- Gain Validation/Rejection Live, Within Meetings – Continually check in with your audience in real-time to get validation or overcome objections. Don’t wait until after the meeting when it is too late.
Combining sales effectiveness with a solid sales process will transform your organization and grow your business beyond what you imagined was possible.
- Sales Compensation Plans
Compensation plans are critical to driving desired behaviors and outcomes, yet 70% of companies are not seeing them deliver these results. Great salespeople are driven by their compensation and commissions – they follow the compensation plan like a roadmap, and they fully understand how they can maximize their earnings within the plan. So, what are the elements of a great comp plan?
- Align Quotas and Payouts with Company Goals – For example, if a business owner wants to drive new product sales and do it with a quarterly focus, the comp plan needs to specifically incent the sales reps to sell the new products. This could be achieved with a higher commission rate on new products sales, bonuses tied to the new product, etc. In addition, having quarterly quotas and bonuses would incent the sales team to actually care about their quarterly numbers and align with the company goals as well.
- Reward Overachievement – Good salespeople want to hit their quota. Great salespeople want to smash their quota and double or triple it. So, give them reasons to – higher commissions, bigger bonuses, and larger payouts as they smash their number and grow your business more than expected.
- Balance Salary with Variable Commission – Paying a high salary with a small commission or bonus will attract underperformers and complacency. A great sales rep isn’t primarily focused on the base salary, as long as it is reasonable. They are looking to make the most of their earnings through the commissions and bonuses when they overachieve. Make sure there is an appropriate balance between the fixed and variable.
Great sale organizations make sure their comp plans are aligned with their company goals and are happy to pay out high dollars to overachieving sales reps.
Building and maintaining a high performing, successful sales organization is not easy, but it is mandatory for consistent results and success. With focus on each of the 5 Key SALES Areas of Impact, your sales will grow beyond your expectations.