article | July 10, 2012
Are You Dictating Action or Empowering Change with Sales Compensation?
If you read my last post and completed the Mid-Year Sales Compensation Assessment Dashboard, it provided you with an indication of where you and your team are likely to finish the year relative to sales quota. If you are like more than 50% of sales executives, you are not on track to hit the number this year. Now what?
You have two options:
1. Dictate – Tell them what to do
2. Empower – Show them what to do
In advance of your second half sales kickoff, ask each of your reps to complete the Quota Action Plan here and bring it to your meeting. Before distributing, have your Sales Operations Manager populate the yellow cells that indicate close rates by stage of your sales process.
If you’ve ever studied John Kotter’s 8 steps to leading change (as seen in the image here), you know the first step is to create urgency. When it comes to quota attainment, there is no better way to create urgency then to have a sales rep sit down and assess their current state. Using the inputs on the left side of the assessment, you are showing your reps how to evaluate where they stand at the mid-point of the year. If they are behind, urgency is created in the form of fear of failure. If they are ahead, urgency is created by greed to earn the maximum. This step is obvious and many sales teams can do this in their sleep. However, world class sales leaders empower their reps by making them think about how they will take action to improve their results.
In your next executive management meeting, create a coalition among your executive leadership by showing them what you are doing with your team and asking for their consistent support. Change management works better across the organizations rather than silos. It also gives the executives and your board visibility into how you are driving action to generate results, which is never a bad thing.
The right hand side of the document is where your reps begin to develop their vision and strategy for the rest of the year. Rather than telling them to “go sell more,” they are determining the actions they will take to make improvements. You are transferring ownership to the individual and empowering them to be accountable for their own success.
When your reps arrive at your review meeting, you are asking them to communicate the vision for the rest of their year by reviewing the action plan and committing to their plan. So far, this should be a fairly simple exercise to helping drive improvements against quota.
Steps 5-8 are the part where your commitment is critical. The action plan has a section for needs. You are asking your reps to tell you where they need help. More training? Resources? Product enhancements? Something else? If you ask, you need to be prepared to empower action by removing obstacles for them. In my opinion, this is the most important step in creating change. If you ask what the roadblocks are and pay it lip service, your sales team will give up on you immediately. Focus your time and attention on removing obstacles so they can be successful.
Once you’ve demonstrated success in empowering change, shout any quick wins from the mountain tops. Nothing motivates a sales force more than seeing change happening for the better; especially when they asked for help and you delivered. If you use Salesforce.com, a great way to broadcast quick wins is through the use of Chatter. Other successful means are: email, sales meetings and company town halls. Just don’t wait! In order to leverage quick wins to drive change, your communication method must be immediate and incorporate detailed information. Opt for high levels of detail versus broad strokes here.
Lastly, you must take all the great changes you’ve made in the organization and embed them in your culture. You are now regularly recognizing improved performance from your team. Use sales meetings to let your successful reps shine and show their peers how they turned around their year. In doing this, you will transition your leadership from telling to showing. Your team will take ownership of their goals and admire you for showing them versus telling them.
If your team is in jeopardy of missing quota this year, you have a choice to tell them what to do or show them how to take action. World class sales leadership is all about empowering people to make change so they can maximize their sales compensation and performance objectives.
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