I attended an event this last weekend where I rubbed elbows with an interesting variety of people. As I chatted with this one person, she relayed a story that was truly frightening. Her husband told her that his sales manager was considering cutting the comp plan back because one of the salespeople was making too much money! My jaw dropped, the world spun, planets collided and my arteries slowly constricted. What absolute and utter nonsense!
I can tell you from experience that this is not an isolated example. Companies do some weird stuff to their sales organizations. Here are a few other examples of corporate lunacy:
Impose needless restrictions on entertainment because one or two people abuse the privilege.
Under the guise of better communication, make salespeople submit long and too detailed call reports.
Split territories without considering the effect of short-term, lowered commissions.
Make bonuses dependent on the sales organization reaching goal.
Revise the comp plan so a nuclear physicist couldn’t understand it.
Regardless of whether you are a sales manager or a company owner managing salespeople the key is-be consistent. I always rely on this simple approach-what makes the most sense? Salespeople are very savvy. They understand their commission plan, their customers, their time (at least most do), their priorities and last but not least they understand when people (upper management) are playing games with them. I like one approach I read in an Ezine article. The author keeps it simple. An organization’s viability depends on the success of the sales force is another of the author’s philosophies that I encourage companies to pursue. Why make a salesperson’s life complicated? Salespeople have enough to do dealing with prospects, customers, crazy economies, traffic and a host of other issues. Remove the roadblocks and shackles from a salesperson’s life and you will see them succeed.
Of course there is always a caveat, right? I am not saying that you should hire a bunch of swash buckling crazies that never contact the home office, conveniently never return calls, avoid sales meetings and generally travel to only their own drum beat. Sales is a team game. Salespeople require discipline, routine, support and the other items mentioned in the Ezine article. Treat salespeople with respect and honesty and they will bring in the numbers for you.
One last comment. If you are interviewing for a sales job you might want to look at the history of the company to make sure that they have stayed away from corporate lunacy.
The Final Thought: There must be consistency in direction. W. Edwards Deming