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Compensate to Motivate
By Lee Salz, President, Sales Architects

Channeling the energy of a sales team can be challenging. How you compensate them determines where they invest their time and the results you get.

When I speak to business executives, one of the challenges I often hear is that their sales team is not doing the things they feel are most critical to the success of the company. I then ask to see their compensation plan. After a thorough read, I share my impression of the message of the compensation plan and ask if this is their intention. That's when things get scary! They look at me blankly and say, "No, our intention is for our sales people to..." For them, the disconnect has been exposed.

What many forget is that the blessing of sales is that a compensation plan doubles as a job description. However, that blessing is also a curse as a compensation plan doubles as a job description. As one executive shared after going through the aforementioned exercise, "We want our sales people to focus on selling our new product to our existing clients. Yet, we are compensating the sales people in a way that they are better off pursuing new clients." He got it!

The incongruence of sales compensation is one of the biggest disconnects in companies. Executives sit in a board room with strategic plans of grandeur, but the plan collapses when they don't address the compensation for the sales troops. It is a very simple equation. Sales people invest their time on activities that drive their compensation. Plain and simple. The thought that sales people will actively and consistently perform activities that are not in their best financial interests is na

Lee B. Salz is a sales management guru who helps companies hire the right sales people, on-board them, and focus their sales activity using his sales architecture

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