Not every employee is capable of selling products or services to potential customers. The selling process requires an employee to possess a particular set of interactive and persuasion skills, as well as a compatible personality profile (garrulous, self-confident, unafraid of rejection, etc.). While some employees enjoy the challenge, most want no part of it and only a minority are neutral about the idea. For those tasked with a selling job, it’s typically a reflection of individual personality that would generate success or struggle.
For compensation practitioners, having the right person involved in the selling process can be more important than the compensation program itself, because dangling potential rewards in the face of the wrong person can be a waste of money and represents lost business opportunity.
It’s All About Motivation
Success in the selling process depends on the right motivating elements aimed at the right employee personality. To do this correctly within a sales compensation program requires the design to take that into account, to focus financial rewards toward whatever engages, whatever motivates the employee to perform in the manner the organization wishes.
Costly mistakes can be made when an organization assumes that all employees will react in the same fashion to the same stimulus.
Have you considered what motivates your sales employees? Chances are that not everyone would have the same answer.
Do you really want to reward the sale of a money-losing or low margin product?
Helping others or helping a cause can be reward enough for some employees.
Employees are proud to be associated with a particular product or service. They’re always wearing the logo shirts and are the organization’s biggest fans.
A certain level of performance would be forthcoming, no matter what financial rewards are offered.
For such employees, the game is always afoot. They enjoy breaking down barriers, solving problems and grabbing for the brass ring.
Sometimes this motivational factor is less about achieving company goals than simply doing better than other employees. Like a loose cannon, these players may have their own definition of winning, which may not be synonymous with yours.
The takeaway point here is to understand what motivates your employees and then to place your rewards in front of them in a fashion that leads and directs their behavior.
If you design your incentive program with the wrong assumptions about what engages your workforce, you’ll risk missing your targets, misspending your financial assets and perhaps not even achieving the required level of success – regardless of the money paid out in rewards.
Designing A Better Carrot
When putting together the elements of your incentive program it would be worth your effort to focus rewards in a manner that recognizes the type of activity and performance you’re aiming for. That sounds like a simple and straightforward concept, yet is all too often missed by plan designers.
To motivate sales employees to achieve a win-win solution, where they deliver the right performance and achieve financial rewards while the company achieves operational success, you have to push the right buttons. But always be mindful that it’s not as easy as simply waving a dollar bill.
Chuck Csizmar is the Founder & Principal of CMC Compensation Group,an independent global compensation consulting firm whose expertise lies in helping companies manage the effective and efficient utilization of financial rewards for their employees. He also maintains a popular blog on compensation at his website www.cmccompensationgroup.com.