Have you ever felt you’ve been pressured into buying a different product from the one you were originally looking at because the salesperson was so eager and convincing?
And then you get back to your office or home, feeling disappointed, almost cheated and too upset to follow up the situation with the company?
Or the sales person traps you in a moment of weakness, promising the earth, and then lets you down with no after sales service?
And when you do eventually get through to a sales manager or senior customer service manager, you discover you’ve been sold a product that greatly benefits the salesperson’s bank account, but has in your opinion now damaged the reputation of the company.
It’s a situation that can easily arise when a motivation scheme is designed to serve the company’s interests above all. Or where the rewards deployed in sales organizations to incentivize sales people for certain sales behaviors and activities, are not in total alignment with the company’s objectives and plans.
There’s a delicate balance between looking after the interest of the company, and creating a package that is attractive enough for the sales team to generate the desired results:
- The system should be designed in a way not only to motivate sales people to do more, but also to reward them financially and keep them happy.
- If you don’t keep your sales people happy, you can increase the risk of high staff turnover in your team, which then affect other factors such as their morale, their confidence, and their results, ultimately costing the company through lost revenue and wasted sales training.
- Often key performance indicators for Sales people come down to one thing, and that’s how much revenue they generate for a company. These figures cannot lie, and are traditionally used by many companies to judge the effectiveness of each sales person.
- A world without rewards and bonuses being calculated through a sales motivation scheme is like a world without meaning for a traditional sales person.
So far we have focused on how a company designed motivation scheme is of interest to both the company itself and the sales people, but what about the customers and clients?
And how do you prevent customers being pressured into buying a different product from the one they were originally interested in, or felt was more suitable to their needs?
Not only do you need to find the right balance between looking after the interest of the company, and the sales person, but also the customer’s needs are of paramount importance to build long lasting relationships and streamline the sales process.
This is particularly so when you factor in the cost of new client acquisition in comparison to client retention and lifetime value of those clients.
To summarise, the preferred outcome of an incentives scheme is to be fair and effective to all parties; matching customer requirements, while being cost efficient and generating healthy profits, and creating a Win-Win-Win for the Company, the Sales People and your Customers.
Let’s take a look at the individual pursuing a sales opportunity:
- In theory she needs to comply with the client’s requirements and requests, finding the best solutions and services best suited to the client.
- With so many choices, there’s a mountain of available information in today’s hectic world of commerce. A skilled sales person will understands that your client can quickly become confused and paralysed in decision-making, and is eager to help, irrespective of the incentives scheme.
- In those situations, it is important for the sales person to quickly create a know-like-trust relationship with the client, and gain their confidence, without focusing only on the incentives scheme
- A successful salesperson will assist by leading the discussion to discover specifically what the customer needs and what features and modules a “solution” shall contain to ensure client satisfaction.
- Starting out with happy clients further makes the sales process easier for repeat business, and opportunities for sales people to build ongoing revenue streams, which can also help the company in reducing turnover figures of the sales team.
For a needy sales person, herein sometimes lays a dilemma. When looking at the sales targets for the month, it’s easy to be selfish and simply focus on the available bonuses and rewards:
- He may get different rewards by selling one product rather than another or personally gains more when selling certain services.
- He may be more interested in making a “quick sale” missing the long term prospect of easier ongoing sales.
- The tempation to sell a product that is more suitable to their bank account can often outweigh the rewards the company receives through key performance indicators such as revenues, gross and net profits, number of new accounts, etc. and many other factors of concern to the Chief Financial Officer.
In an ideal world, when creating an incentives scheme by only examining the numbersand concentrating from a purely financial point of view, a sales person can appear to be motivated, but more likely feel almost forced, to sell very specific products and services while pursuing very specific business targets.
In the real world, this course of action will often conflict with the needs and wants of a client, which may have detrimental long-term consequences to the company.
For example, when a certain product pays a higher commission but is not necessarily helpful to the client, the sales person can be fond of including that in the proposal even though she knows the client doesn’t really need it.
If this does happen, then sooner or later the client would understand that he was not fairly treated, and he was sold something unsuitable. This simple action threatens to put the business relationship at risk. Worse still, there may even be legal action against the seller.
How To Achieve A Win-Win-Win
Here are some simple functions and control procedures you can establish to increase the outcome of a Win-Win-Win
- Selecting sales people that are a match with company values
- Adequate training for sales people that may include role-playing and regular reviews
- Compiling a resource of frequently asked questions, objections and common solutions that meet the company sales requirements and assist in future sales
- Establish an audit team to follow payments and try to discover instances of sales made that conflict with clients interests.
- Ongoing sales meetings with reminders given to sales people about these practices, with a clear guidelines and warnings that suspicious instances may be presented to a committee to review and decide the consequences of such behavior.
- Encourage client feedback for the company to review and assess. Regular feedback can also help in ongoing sales training to further improve the sales experience for new clients
- For complicated deals there can be an audit working to identify whether the structured solution was well proposed.
- The manager also has a responsibility to check on such cases.
- Another solution and part of the policy in the incentives scheme is that in cases where audit is not right all commissions earned must be returned from the sales person.
In all situations, the secret to successful sales is open communication. This is particularly important internally, where often the sales team feel unsupported by management.
Open and honest communication between company executives and the sales team, and between the sales team and their clients can have many benefits for all parties.
Listening to feedback both up and down the chain of command, and most importantly from customers, can give your company amazing results in morale, enthusiasm, sales and profits.
At the end of the day people are people and like to be treated with respect, which is often far more important to them than money.