Northwoods Commerce: Are your sales people hungry?
What motivates your sales people?
If you have sales people who are used to making $100,000 per year, offering a quarter of a dollar extra per sale probably won’t get them too excited. The offer of a quarter extra for every dessert sold by a waitress in a family restaurant, however, might generate a lot of extra sales. When deciding what incentives to put before your sales team, it helps to know what it takes to get them excited.
Not everyone has the same motivation. Some people are very happy with, and can live quite comfortably on, $50,000 per year. An individual with $5,000 per month in fixed expenses will require a much higher salary just to make their basic payments. This does not suggest that you should look for people who are fiscally irresponsible and deep in debt to sell your products or services. Good credit reports are often one indicator of the ability to handle money and budgets.
What someone’s lifestyle does suggest is what their aspirations and motivations might be. Sales people will often be very motivated to do what it takes to make their income goals but then often slow down when they get close to, or surpass, their objective. It is important to evaluate your sales goals on a quarterly or at least annual basis to make sure that they are attainable but still require effort and make the sales person stretch to reach the target.
Peer recognition is also a very powerful motivator. I have conducted studies in which groups of sales people were asked if they would rather have a 10 percent increase in earnings or be publicly recognized as the top performing sales person in their group and receive a five percent increase. Most opted for the recognition. Money gets spent quickly and is forgotten, but an award or public recognition can pay motivating dividends for years.
Recognizing that other factors and people can have an influence on your sales people also helps to understand what motivates them. There is a reason why many companies send information on sales incentives to a home address. Once the spouse sees that it might be possible to win merchandise or a nice trip by reaching a sales goal, he or she is often much more likely to be supportive of the sales rep’s extra effort and time and actually encourage them to excel.
Creating new challenges can also be a motivator. The addition of new accounts, territories or product lines often creates a new spark in sales people by getting them out of their comfort zone and presenting them with new challenges. You need to be careful with how many changes and how much work load you add, however, because if you go too far too fast or add on too much, your good intentions could actually have the opposite impact on sales motivation.
Good sales people are hard to find. Keeping them can be even harder. Recognizing what makes your sales people tick goes a long way toward keeping them happy and productive. Have your sales people grown complacent or bored? Are they looking for a new challenge? Do your sales people lack or long for recognition from their peers, family or support groups? Are your sales people hungry? Knowing what motivates them and keeping them well fed, without overfeeding them, will motivate them to produce more sales and lead to lower turnover and reduced training cost.
About the Author – Scott Francis is president of Topline Development LLC a strategic marketing consulting group that provides helps companies determine how they can make the most amount of money with the least amount of resources. To learn more about Topline Development LLC, visit their website at www.ToplineDevelopment.com or contact Scott directly at Scott@ToplineDevelopment.com.