Not all salespeople are cut in the same way. There are those whose jobs require account maintenance, while others have mission focus on finding prospects and developing new accounts. There are those saddled with close supervision and there are those given much rope to explore on their own but expected to come back with the proverbial bacon.

Similarly, not all salespeople are motivated in the same way. There are those paid fixed income to keep accounts in tow, there are those purely compensated with variable income, while others are paid with a combination of both fixed and variable income though varying in degrees of emphasis.
One must first begin by defining exactly what the primary deliverable result is expected from a sales position. Is it to prospect, follow and convert leads, secure repeat business, and/or establish/develop/maintain relationships? Depending on the simplicity or complexity of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the sales position, qualifications of sales personnel should be defined differently. Obviously, the more complex the function, the more stringent the requirements would be.
The second step would be to put in place the right type of salesperson. Hiring a candidate whose primary experience and predisposition is to maintain accounts (farmer-type) and expecting the same person to perform well in prospecting and finding new customers (hunter-type) is usually a bit of a stretch.
Some candidates will require reorientation, training and time to go through a learning curve, while others who are more versatile can climb the saddle, take a spear and bag a catch moments after. As an old adage used to say, One needs the right tool for the right job. Realize that there exist both task-specific tools (like a saw) and multipurpose tools (like a Swiss Army Knife).
The third step would be to develop and establish the appropriate compensation and reward package. One must then design monetary and/or non- monetary payouts in relation to the expected deliverables of the sales position. After all, what gets paid and rewarded gets done. Misalignments can be found across industries. Management expects salespeople to deliver something else but their payout drives a different behavior.
Take for instance the defunct Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) payout system of giving commissions for selling-in to retailers. Naturally salespeople tended to follow the money trail. So what results did that deliver? Overstocking the customer, collection issues, and a lot of Bad Orders (B.O.)!
Incidentally, to compound matters, a sales drive was launched awarding trips for those who can bust their quotas and voila, half hit their mark! Two months down the road, customers are still coughing up the overstocked products that are now coming out of their ears, many have refused to pay on time, much less, place repeat orders. Others even threatened to return stocks.
Meanwhile, the manufacturing department has mistakenly scaled up production. Stocks of raw materials are likewise busting at the seams. Finance then raises a red flag during the Management Committee meeting regarding interest payments on capital used to overproduce. To solve this problem another sales drive will be needed and guess what happens next? Little imagination is needed to predict how this story spirals deeper into a quagmire.
So how do you motivate salespeople paid with commissions? The first question to ask is, what are you asking them to do? Secondly, are they the right type of salespeople? And lastly, is the compensation and reward package appropriate? Pure hunters driven by commissions can hardly be expected to succumb to close supervision, file voluminous reports and much less, be attendance perfect in management-initiated meetings without a glint of irritation. For this type, you point them in the right direction and their killer instincts take over to deliver you their catch.
But is that how you want it, really? If you require fulfillment of other KPIs and are not rewarding such, how can you expect them to deliver on those? Like what is always said, what gets compensated and rewarded gets done, assuming of course they are the right type of salespeople in the first place.
Rowen Untivero is the chief sales strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (, the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines. For inquiries, please e- mail, call (+632) 584-5858/ 412-0034 or text (63) 918- 811-6888.
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