Employees are from Earth, Sales People are from Mars

Blog - AlienAre sales people some kind of alien race?

Do they come from another planet where people have different motivations and drives than the rest of us?  The business world certainly seems to believe that’s the case, because it’s the only job on the planet that is regularly compensated primarily through commission.  Sure, we might give bonuses to other positions, but nobody else works on commission.

Can you imagine a teacher that got paid solely based on students that passed certain exams?  How about a doctor that got paid based only on the number of patients they healed?  We would vehemently resist all such practices because it would be insulting, unfair, and potentially harmful.  We assume teachers and doctors do what they do out of a passion for the job.  If that’s the case, then we must be assuming sales people hate their jobs and so we must motivate them differently.

We certainly wouldn’t want a doctor only getting paid for cures as then they might start only seeing patients that were easy to cure.  Really sick and injured patients would be ignored in fear of not being paid.  What if we just paid doctors based on the number of patients they saw?  Would we want a doctor running from patient to patient as fast as possible?  Definitely not, so why would we want a sales rep running from customer to customer as fast as possible?  The same reduction in quality, service, and care that would take place with the doctor also takes place with our sales reps.

We know it would be impossible for a teacher to control all the factors that determine test scores or a doctor to control disease and injury. Decades of research indicate that teachers are only responsible for 10-15% of student achievement.  With so much relying on a factor outside the teacher’s control, it couldn’t possibly be a fair way to pay.  Can a doctor control what diseases a patient is afflicted with?  This is no different from our sales reps who face many outside factors that determine the amount of sales they can make at any given time.  Then, what about the evidence that high tests scores have low correlation with actual life success?  In the same way, are the methods we use to determine sales success actually worthwhile?

Your sales team are people like any other.  They want a workplace where they are respected, not manipulated.  Through selling a product or service, they want to be able to better the lives of others.  They want to grow, develop, and work with a great team.  It seems so obvious for every other job role, why don’t we see it for this one?  Rather than changing your comp and benefit structure for your sales team yet again, my suggestion is to try something different.  Inspire your sales team by connecting them with the mission of your organization, treat them fairly and with respect, and recognize their accomplishments.  Believe me, you’ll see better results in no time.

Related Articles & Posts

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How to Motivate Your Sales Force to Great Performance

A Radical Prescription for Sales

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