But I’m a Sales Guy! The Story of Motivation and Compensation


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A Sales VP and his CEO were in the conference room and each time the CEO brought up a problem, we asked the Sales VP to elaborate.  Each time he began with, “Well I’m a sales guy so I know this stuff…”

Yes and No.

Yes, he’s a sales guy.  But no, he doesn’t know this stuff.  If he knew this stuff the problems and challenges in their organization wouldn’t exist and the two of them wouldn’t be sitting in front of us in the conference room.  This isn’t at all unusual either. 

Most Sales VP’s, Directors and Managers have egos so large that they can’t ask for or readily accept the help that most of them so desperately need.  Most CEO’s don’t expect their Sales Leaders to be trainers, they expect them to arrange for the training.  Most CEO’s don’t expect their Sales Leaders to be experts in Sales Force Evaluation and Sales Candidate Selection.  They expect their Sales Leaders to identify the tools that will help them.  Most CEO’s DO expect their Sales Leaders to implement sales processes, create realistic metrics, hold their salespeople accountable and coach them to be more effective.  And most Sales Leaders just aren’t very effective at this.

I just looked at the data on about 50,000 sales managers that have been assessed by Objective Management Group and on average, sales managers have only:

  • 37% of the attributes required to be effective coaching coaching salespeople;
  • 58% of the attributes required to be effective holding salespeople accountable. 
  • 47% of the attributes required for developing people.

So it’s clear that they need the help but most of them say the same thing — “I’m a sales guy – I know this stuff…”  Yeah right.  Most of them know what their salespeople must achieve for results but beyond that, don’t have the skills, strategies, tactics, experience, and understanding to help all of them do that consistently and effectively.

Another thing Sales Leaders don’t know very well is compensation.  Only 20% of the sales managers in our database know what motivates their salespeople and only 42% of the sales managers are even personally motivated to earn more money!

My guest on last week’s episode of Meet the Sales Experts was Sales Compensation expert Dick Dauphanais.  You need to listen to every word of this show but a few of the things that Dick said that I thought should be included here are:

  • “Well designed compensation plans have a life expectancy of 3-5 years max.”
  • “Take people off of commission during aberration (economy in the tank) years.”
  • “You need to understand the difference between pay and recognition based compensation plans.”

If you’re a CEO, communicate to your Sales Leaders that they are supposed to get help and you expect them to.

If you are a Sales Leader, get your ego out of the way and ask for the help you need.  That’s why we are here!  Don’t be embarrassed, think about how you’ll look when you’re smashing past the goals!

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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