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The secret to getting sales reps to act like company owners


Imagine that, getting sales reps to act like owners, automatically doing the right thing for the company! I was asked to give a lecture on that very subject. I automatically said you can’t! Sales reps are motivated completely different from the owners of the company. Then I thought about it some more. It really can be done!

How you ask?

Are you ready? I’ll share my secret (drum roll please) – it is all about alignment! That’s it. The secret really is getting the business owner to articulate their vision clearly in a way that sales can understand the strategic direction the company is going and what they need to do to support that direction.

I didn’t say it would be easy! So how do you accomplish it?

It all begins with the business owner having a clear vision that can be translated to measurable actions that are assigned to the sales organization. These measures must be clearly defined so there is no question as to what counts and what doesn’t plus you need to have a quota associated with it so the rep and the company can track how they are doing.

Often the business owner wants everything and the tendency is to create too many measurable activities. Not surprising, these measures may even have conflicting goals like revenue and profit. The more measures you have the less focus any one measure has. My recommendation is to have 3 or less measures.

Now quotas are another matter that must be looked at carefully. Quotas should be aggressive yet realistic expecting 60-70% of the reps to achieve the quota. You want that team of winners’ mentality in your company. Be careful not to over allocate the quota to the reps. Over allocation is assigning a larger quota to the reps than the company expects to achieve and that by itself is demotivating to the reps. If the company truly believes it is not possible, how can the poor sales rep reach it!

The final piece is the formula and payout amount associated with the measures. How you communicate the importance of the measure is by the amount the rep can earn, that is the more money the rep can make, the more focus they will have on selling it. Your reps will get really excited to exceed their goals if you have set your quotas appropriately and have accelerated rates or rates that change with attainment of the measure. The more they sell, the more they make at an increasing commission rate, helping you the business owner achieve your strategic goals.