Are your sales reps adrift by reaching for the wrong goal?

A friend of mine was docking her dinghy (a small boat for you land lovers). She had a procedure that she followed every time, except this one. It was a calm day and she’s docked it here many times before. She was thinking about other things. No need to carefully follow the procedure this time, she’d done it hundreds of time before. She knew the end result she wanted to obtain – successfully tie up the dinghy to the dock. She was in autopilot mode. She stepped off the dinghy onto the dock with the dock line (a rope) in her hand. She sees the dinghy moving away from the dock. At this point she now realizes that the line she has in her hand is not attached to the boat. She was on not thinking carefully about the job at hand and had too many lines to choose from and too many things to distract her. She selected the wrong one and now her boat was adrift.

Does this sound like your sales reps? Doing the same thing day after day in autopilot! Selecting the wrong opportunity to work on? Doing tasks that do not end in sales?

Your sales reps should plan out each day to achieve specific goals and those goals should be in direct alignment with the company’s and what they get paid for. Each and every day your sales reps decide what to reach for, what to work on and where to spend their energy for the day. There is a limited number of sales minutes in each day and the sales rep needs to maximize their focus on activities that deliver results. They are evaluating many things at the same time and doing this evaluation without much thought. The sales team is often distracted by all they have to do. Frequently they have too many tools that are supposed to help them organize and track their activities leading to more sales but can have the opposite result. In a recent webinar by OnTask, I learned from Jake Filloramo and Tirrah Switzer that sales reps waste 2.5 months on administration tasks. That is a lot of time spent on non-sales activities.

Adding to this distraction is the sales compensation plan and a sales manager trying to focus them in a different direction.

It is common to design the new sales compensation plan without the needed evaluation. Everyone is too busy trying to end the year strong, focusing on sales. The sales compensation plan for next year consists of a tweak to last year’s or worse copied from a previous company. Yes, that’s right, I’ve seen sales compensation plan documents that were originated in a different company and just modified for the current company. And I’ve even see them copied directly from a sample plan document I use to give prospects, complete with my invented terms and conditions. The danger here is that the strategic vision of the two companies or my mythical company were not the same and the leadership team wondered why their sales goals were unmet! You see the sales compensation plan document is how the company communicates their strategic vision to the sales team.

As the year progresses, the leadership team decides its best to have the Sales Manager’s enforce the direction needed instead of changing/correcting the sales compensation plan. They decide that changing the sales compensation plan is too disruptive for the sales organization and attempt to manage the change instead of compensation for it.

Sales Managers, have you ever asked your reps to do things that conflict with how the sales team gets paid? Of course, you have. And how did that work for the company? Let’s face it, when the sales rep has to choose between doing what their manager says or doing what they get paid for, what do you think the rep will do? Yup, what they get paid for trumps everything!

So how do you get your sales reps to pay attention and grab the right line? Every aspect of their job should focus them on achieving the right result. By designing a sales compensation plan that aligns with the company’s strategic objectives and rewarding appropriately for the importance of delivering that result.

If you are just thinking about this now, it’s getting late in the design process for the 2018 plans. Get moving today or your sales reps will be adrift just like this dinghy!