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How To Develop Powerful Selling Behaviors
by Joe Heller

I recommend that you pay close attention to the rewards and penalties that you administer to your sales team. They have a direct causal effect on your sales team behavior. Rewards impact behavior and performance. Penalties may or may not be effective depending on the situation. Remember; any behavior that gets rewarded tends to be repeated.

Incentive or performance-based compensation should be designed to produce a high-performing sales team. Commission plans for sales-people must be designed with performance-based criteria essential to its success. Many entrepreneurs fail to identify and implement a plan that stimulates the real performance motivators for a sales organization.

Early stage entrepreneurial companies sometime forget that a performance-based compensation plan will make the difference as to whether they survive, fail or achieve exponential growth. A well formulated compensation plan is a dynamic management tool that maximizes your marketing firepower.

Just as a successful business lavishly rewards their stars for setting a higher standard of excellence, the very same business sometimes fails to punish the non-performers. A statement has to be made, and non-performers must be reprimanded and/or terminated. Any lack of action to punish the non-performers on the managements part will set a standard that it's "ok" to be mediocre.

A few simple guidelines can put this powerful management tool to work for you.
  1. Set of clear and specific goals for your sales organization.
  2. Set of clear and specific goals for each individual on your sales team.
  3. Goals must be objective and quantifiable.
  4. Goals must compel the sales team and the individual to grow.
Note: If you can't measure it statistically, you can't use it as a standard for performance-based compensation. You MUST develop methods for gathering data to measure your progress (or lack of it) toward your sales goals. What you measure is what you get, so inspect what you expect.

Subjective factors, like attitude or good work habits, may be included in the performance criteria. Also consider non-monetary rewards as well. Recognize employees publicly at every opportunity, for creativity, leadership, or innovation. Depending on the individual, a certificate, plaque, or small trophy is more motivating than cash.

Encourage competition for these awards by posting individual and departmental performance statistics where everyone can see them. Heated rivalries often develop over the coveted "sales person of the month" parking space. Even seeing the sales "thermometer bar" moving up each week can be a powerful incentive.

Additionally, I recommend rewarding mistakes. Create a rotating gag prize for the sales person who made the most costly mistake, or the dumbest error. This award should be presented in an atmosphere of friendly fun; never to punish or embarrass. Laughing these things off serves two major purposes: First, it encourages people to take risks by letting them know that it's OK to fail, and, second, it produces an air of "playfulness" with their co-workers, and allows them to get on with their jobs.

Finally, never argue with results. If a team member goes about achieving his or her objective in an unconventional way, reward that person anyway. What works for you may not work for him or her.

Encourage your people to take responsibility for achieving their objectives, reward them progressively, and stand back. They will amaze you!

© Copyright Joe Heller. All Rights Reserved.

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