Today’s sales environment is vastly different from what it was just a few years ago. Buyers, enabled by the internet, now do far more research prior to speaking with a salesperson and are more educated as a result. Buying committees are also larger, and now include an average of 6.8 or more stakeholders. This leaves reps to struggle with more individuals to influence. Furthermore, oftentimes both the product being sold and the solution needed are far more complex. These factors all contribute to longer buying cycles. To top it off, traditional sales compensation models often aren’t as effective at driving desired results in the modern sales world.
The challenge is to simultaneously motivate diverse sales teams to meet short term goals and drive increasing amounts of revenue to the bottom line for sustainable organizational growth. Companies also need to ensure their employees remain at their peak performance, happy, and satisfied to retain top players. This can all be done by reinforcing the right short term sales behaviors while building programs that promote long-term results.
To start, determine what sales activities will support the specific goals of your business. This will depend on where your organization is in its lifecycle. Obviously, the needs of a startup are very different from those of an established enterprise. So, where a startup may be focused on building up their customer base, an established enterprise may be more focused on preventing customer churn or increasing profitability.
For the startup, the compensation plan will most heavily reward adding new customers where the enterprise might compensate better for customers who pay subscriptions annually versus month by month. Or, for a profitability focus, higher rewards would be paid for the most lucrative deals and compensation would scale back based on discounts leveraged to close a deal.
Rewarding sales reps for activities helps build positive behaviors while having fun. For example, you can gamify onboarding activities for new hires. Once you hire a new rep, give them assignments to complete prior to their first day on the job. These might include gaining a specified amount of product knowledge, learning the basics of the company’s CRM platform and reviewing sales collateral. When the new hire starts, reward them for their pre-onboarding accomplishments.
Existing reps may be rewarded for various activities to drive the behaviors needed to hit their long-term goals such as accomplishing a specified number of cold call attempts, discovery calls, demos, proposals, or referrals. Plus, this sort of program can be customized for each individual on a team to reinforce activities needed to reach their overall goals.
What you reward for these types of activities will vary based on your budget, the value of the activity to your business and what you determine most motivates your sales reps. Some examples of rewards to use include cash, gift certificates or cards, extra vacation days and event tickets.
You can increase teamwork to reinforce long-term sales performance. Hold team meals where you treat the entire team to lunch or dinner together whenever an individual on the team hits their goal.
At the same time, because everybody benefits by being treated to the meal, everyone on the team will want to help each other improve their performances. Of course, the reward doesn’t have to be a meal – it could be some other type of event as a result of a percentage of people hitting a particular goal. Whatever it is, it needs to encourage reps to support one another, perhaps through peer-to-peer coaching. Team competitions – one team against another sales team – is another option to build teamwork. And, don’t forget to keep everyone posted on all individual and team numbers so they can cheer each other on.
These are a few ways to include short-term sales incentives that will help you gain long-term results. Give these a try. They are a win-win for individuals, teams and the entire company. Plus, the bonus is fun along the way, resulting in increased employee satisfaction and reduced sales rep turnover as well as the costs associated with rep churn!