. We reviewed a number of recommendations about how organizations can take a more strategic approach to sales compensation in the new year to increase their sales output without adding sales resources.
As we discussed, compensation is a critical motivator for the sales force, and a key lever for aligning sales execution with your top financial targets. But beware of relying on incentives exclusively. You may get your sales team’s attention, but you may not achieve their attainment.
Compensation is a critical motivator, but it does not guarantee attainment
Motivating the Four-Minute Mile
One of the examples we reviewed when we started discussing doing this webinar was running a 4-minute mile. While a great financial award will get most people’s attention, it doesn’t mean they’ll wake up the next day and run it. In fact, many of us who don’t think we have the right training, equipment, or abilities won’t even try.
So after you’ve provided the financial motivation, how do you ensure the goals you’ve set are attainable? In other words, how do you identify the right behaviors and skills that will drive your team’s success?
Empirically identifying the right behaviors to measure and coach for each selling role is the biggest hurdle to successful execution. We’re always trying to identify what really drives top performance. Baseball analysts have shed a lot of insight on how to question superstitions and rituals, and focus on empirical gauges of player performance. Michael Lewis’ Moneyball book lays out how the Oakland A’s were able to gain a competitive edge against much larger-market teams by questioning conventional wisdom and looking at more predictive gauges of success, taking advantage of baseball’s famous propensity for statistics. In football now, visualization technology has evolved to enable coaches to measure tactical statistics before, during, and after each match, so they can really understand each player’s contribution to the game.
Bringing Moneyball Home
What if you could achieve the same insights into your sales force? What if you could visualize your sales team and see all their pre, during, and post-deal interactions, and really understand what the top performers are doing differently?
You can. The amount of data and digital activity you can now capture for each sales person lets you understand more about their behaviors today than you ever could before. This includes SFA and call center data, learning data, social data, and sales communications. By harnessing this data and visualizing your top performers and the activities, behaviors, and processes that produce actual wins in the field, you can begin to create a digital pulse for your sales team, and tie their behaviors to real business outcomes.
Coaching in action
Analyze your data to create a digital pulse for your sales team and tie their behaviors to real business outcomes
Visualization tools capturing sales activity data can help test hypotheses about which activities really separate the stars from the pack. These visualizations clearly illustrate the relationship between behaviors and results, and help steer managers away from coaching the wrong behaviors. For example, does the number of meetings or connections really predict a good quarter? Measuring meetings or connection volume can end up producing more of the
wrong connections, actually undermining the intention of your compensation plan.
I’ve focused here on one of the key enablers that you can leverage – alongside your variable compensation program- to help ensure you achieve your financial targets: coaching. While compensation is critical to motivate the sales force on your top strategic goals, it’s equally important to provide the coaching regime to enable your team’s success. Other key enablers include driving a knowledge-based sales culture based on learning and collaboration. By enabling your sales team success, you can begin to increase your sales team’s output and attainment percentage without adding more reps – you can begin to generate money for nothing.
Let me know your thoughts. Leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
 J. Dickie et al, “2011 Sales Compensation and Performance Management Key Trends Analysis,” CSO Insights