4 Tips for Creating Effective Sales Compensation Plans


When hiring new sales reps, market your sales position with a compensation plan that attracts realistic candidates who will work for you at the price you are willing to pay.

Here are four tips in creating sales compensation plans.

1) Don’t overpay a base salary, but don’t let them die on the vine. You want sales reps who are hungry to make sales, yet you don’t want them starving at home during the initial ramp-up. If they are worried about paying their bills, they can’t focus on long term results. Provide a safety net with a base salary or draw that reflects the length of your sales cycle. The longer the sales cycle, the larger the safety net.

2) Tie incentives to the activities or results you desire. Almost 7 in 10 sales and finance managers think their compensation plans fail to drive desired behaviors according to a study by Synygy. In addition to commissions for closed sales, consider activity incentives. If you know that 50 cold calls per day generates five conversations that results in one sale, then provide your reps with a cash incentive to make the 50 daily cold calls.

3) There is no perfect plan. Be flexible based on the experience and track record of the candidate. If necessary, customize a sales plan for top producers. Your top sales rep may need higher upside potential to feed their hunger for success. Like a race horse, let them run and run fast. Don’t let processes and structured comp plans get in the way. If your a new rep is experienced with a great track record, be willing to pay them more than your average players.

4) Be realistic about income potential. Honest numbers work. The “sky is the limit” or “earn a $6 figure income” is over played. Receive better quality candidates by painting a realistic picture of first and second year income achieved by your above average players. Look at industry comparisons too to set realistic expectations.

Keep in mind that current market conditions and profit margins need to be factored into every competitive sales compensation plan.

Learn more about how to match sales compensation plans to your next sales hire.

4 Skills Your Sales Reps Need in a Technology Driven World


Have you ever sold your products or services without ever meeting the customer? I’m guessing the answer is “yes.” Although some may argue the point, almost anything can be sold without the customer touching the product or meeting with a sales rep.

Things have certainly changed.

Technology will continue to disrupt old sales processes. Buyers no longer feel a big need to see a rep. Consequently, many companies are disbanding their outside reps and replacing them with inside reps. With this in mind, what skills do your sales reps need to effectively sell if they never get to meet a customer?

Four skills that every sales rep needs to sell in a technology driven world.

CRM – Effective use of Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software is a must. We live in a data world and everyone has access to it. Sales reps who manage data better than the competition will have an advantage.

Web Demo – Faceless meetings are becoming the norm. The ability to view information on a computer or mobile device makes phone meetings more effective. Sales reps who know how to effectively present demos using tools like GoToMeeting and Join Me are now high in demand.

Video/Skype – Works best for those who have the courage to have their face plastered on a screen with all the wrinkles and double chins showing. I personally find video meetings distracting, yet with practice, we can all get better at this. Skype is great for interviewing remote sales people and if you are selling to the younger generation. We are now in the Jetson world. Time to embrace it!

Communication – Effective communication skills may sounds boring, yet still critically important. Without the ability to read body language in a virtual selling situation, reps with the ability to effectively communicate ideas verbally and in writing will connect better with prospects. Consider sending your reps to business writing classes to improve their writing skills, particularly your Millennials and Gen Y who prefer to write in text mode.

Those who know how to capitalize on technology will have a distinct advantage in the years to come. Sales reps who resist technology may soon find their old school “meet and greet” selling style a thing of the past.

Learn more about how to identify sales professionals who can thrive in a technology world.

3 Reasons Why Sales Reps Hate Salesforce And Other CRMs


First off, this is not a bash against the CRM world. On the contrary, solid businesses know that using a CRM system is a key element of a good sales process. Yet, even though business owners and sales manager are enamored with CRM data, sales people are less than enthusiastic. In fact, they resist.

So, if we know CRMs help sales people track and follow-up on prospects, why do they resist using them? Shouldn’t they embrace CRMs?

Here are 3 ways sales professionals sabotage your CRM:

1) They don’t enter new prospects into the system.
2) They don’t record calls and emails to prospects and clients.
3) They don’t record proposals sent to prospects or existing clients.

So, I ask the question again, why do sales reps resist CRMs?

Details is one culprit. Good sales people are hunters by nature, not detail people. They like to slay the dragon and then move on to the next dragon. Good sales people are results oriented. Not really a big surprise that your good sales people would rather make calls (even cold calls), then enter data.

Here are the top 3 reasons why sales people resist CRMs.

1) They are action driven, not detail oriented . . . they would rather “do” than “document.”
2) They believe CRMS slow them down from the next sale.
3) They fail to see the big picture benefit to the company and to themselves.

So if your sales person is not embracing your CRM, what should you do? Here are some ideas: (Click here)

And, be sure your next hire is not a complete dud when it comes to detail work if you want them to embrace your CRM. On a scale of 1-10, you don’t want your sales people to be a 10 on details, yet they shouldn’t be a 1 either. Mid-range detail competency works well in a CRM sales environment.

Friend or foe, the key is to let your sales team know that your CRM system is here to stay.

Learn more on how to identify sales professionals who have natural inclination to use CRMs effectively, click here.

Are Your Sales Reps Problem Solvers?


Does your sales team solve customer problems or just take orders? High performing sales professionals should be problem solvers who not only solve problems, but also know how to find problems worth solving.


Complex products or services require problem solving at the highest level. However, companies selling simple commodity products can also benefit from hiring sales reps with some level of problem solving skills.


Discovering a customer’s “pain” has become standard language in the sales world. Yet, the discovery or process of uncovering pain still seems elusive to many sales professionals. Why? Because they are not natural problem solvers.


When we think of problem solvers, we tend to envision people like engineers or inventors. Was Thomas Edison a problem solver? You bet he was. Do you think he was also an accomplished sales professional? My guess is he probably was. Successful inventor/entrepreneurs must “sell” ideas that solve problems.


So, what traits do Problem Solvers have that make them stand out from the rest?  According to Devine Sales Assessment, there are five behaviors that Problem Solvers possess . . . creativity, listening, emotional composure, planning, and learning.


How would you rate your sales team on these behaviors? If they rate low, then you probably have sales reps that struggle with problem solving.


Unfortunately, problem solving alone does not make a great sales person. There are many contributing factors. However, If your product or service is complex, you need sales reps who are natural problem solvers.


In the DISC assessment world, a person with high D and High C behaviors tend to have a nice mix of assertive and problem solving behaviors. Yet, not all High D, High C people are good sales people, nor have any interest in selling.


In summary, if a member of your sales team is struggling even though they seem to have the ambition to succeed, then problem solving ability may be the missing ingredient.


If you would like to learn more on how to evaluate sales professionals to identify those with Problem Solving capabilities, click here

Do Your Sales Reps Have This #1 Most Important Competency?


The world seems overflowing with sales gurus who share their wisdom on how to make your less than stellar sales people become superstars. Yet, with all this wisdom available to your sales team, are you getting results? If you have tried everything to get your sales team in shape, yet with limited success, then you may be missing a critical ingredient.


Sales success formula for your sales reps can be simplified into one word . . . Ambition.


Ambition drives the sales train. Here is a little poem to sum it up.


It can’t be taught,

It can’t be bought.

It can’t be steered,

Nor can it be engineered.

Ambition is either there . . . or it is not.


So, what is this thing we call, Ambition?  It is often described as “motivation.” Yet, motivation can be created in two ways . . . . internally (intrinsic) or externally (extrinsic).


People who “drink the Kool-Aid” are externally motivated. Someone or something externally drives their motivation. In sales, a talented Sales Manager may inspire their sales team to glorious results, but what happens if the Sales Manager leaves? The external inspiration is gone. If your sales reps are not internally driven, their sales performance may be lackluster without someone pushing them up the ladder of success.


Sales professionals who are internally motivated (or self-motivated) do not need external factors to motivate themselves. They create their own success; in spite of the obstacles and struggles they may face. The Devine Group defines “Ambition & Drive” as an attitude of expecting to win and striving to be the best one can be. People that are intrinsically motivated drive themselves to success. They know what they want to achieve, believe they can do it, set appropriate goals, and then execute an action plan to deliver their desired results.


So, if that is all there is to it, why do so many sales professionals fail. First . . . not everyone is internally motivated. And, those that are, may not be internally motivated to sell your products and services. Can they do it? Maybe. Will they do it? Another maybe. Thus, too many “maybes” in the equation creating a lower percentage chance of sales success.


Before hiring a new sales professional, measure their Ambition. Sales assessments measure internal motivation with a fair amount of reliability. Granted, there are many other variables to sales success, yet Ambition tops the list of “must-haves.” People who are self-motivated and love to excel have a significantly higher probability of sales success.


Remember, you can’t teach, buy, steer, or engineer Ambition. Your new hire either has it, or they don’t.


If you would like to learn more on how to hire sales professionals with high Ambition, click here.

Two Preventable Sales Hiring Mistakes


Your best salesperson, Sally, has resigned as she is moving out of state. Her territory is in your metro area selling industrial office supplies, so you will need to replace her.

Sally was hired five years right out of college and it took about a year for her to get up to speed. You don’t have time to train a new rep, so you think hiring an experienced rep is the right path.

Great news! Your neighbor’s brother-in-law, Bill, is looking for a job. He has been in sales for 15 years and just quit his job selling wireless phone services. You have met him before and remember him as a real “people person.” You invite him to your office and spend forty minutes talking about common connections and the high school football team where your kids both play. You like Bill. He is easy to talk with and he is available to work immediately. So, you hire him.

Within one month, you know something is wrong. Bill has not brought in a single order. He seems busy and says he has talked with a lot of companies, but they are happy with their current vendor.

Here are four possible reasons for his poor sales performance.

1) Ambition: Bill may not have the internal drive necessary for success.
2) Wrong fit: Bill’s sales style may not match up with the way your products need to be sold.
3) Sales Skills: Bill may not have the sales training necessary to sell in a competitive environment.
4) Management: Bill may not be getting the right sales coaching.

There are many other variables that can cause poor performance, yet these are some of the most common reasons we see time and time again. Yet, the first two reasons are preventable. With proper sales assessments, you can determine if candidates have natural “Ambition & Drive.” And, you can easily determine if their sales style fits your company.

If you would like to learn more on how to avoid sales hiring mistakes with pre-hiring sales assessments, give us a call or click here for more information.

Do You Have 3D Sales Reps?


Not all sales reps are created equal. In fact, 8 out of every 9 reps may not be able to deliver acceptable results. So what sets sales producers apart from the rest of the pack?

Successful people do things that others are not willing to do. Maybe they work harder. Maybe they work smarter. Yet, what most successful sales have are the 3Ds.

The 3Ds are natural behaviors among superstar sales reps. The 3Ds are almost impossible to teach to those who don’t possess them naturally. Tell me, do your reps have the following qualities?

1.) Driven: Internal motivation to excel and be the best one can be.

2.) Determined: Able to set sales goals and resolved to do whatever it takes to achieve them.

3.) Disciplined: Self-directed to consistently execute a sales activity plan that drives results.

If your sales people are struggling, then they probably don’t have the 3Ds. If they did, they would figure out a way to be successful regardless of the obstacles they face, whether it be poor market conditions, stiff competition, or perhaps even sub-par product and services to sell. 3D sales professionals make things happen.

How can you tell if potential new hires possess the 3Ds?

Fortunately, there are sales assessments that provide an objective measure of these natural gifts. Past sales results and accomplishments are another key indicator of performance. If you want sales results, take the time to evaluate prospective hires with assessments and with thorough interview techniques.

Ann Clifford

What To Do After A Cold Call Connection


In order to be successful in cold calling, you have to learn the first rule of thumb. NEVER EVER assume your first contact with a prospect will result in a sale. Knowing there will be multiple touch points after your first call, there are two things you can do that will help nurture the relationship.

1) Assuming you have built rapport on your first call, plan how and when you will follow up with the prospect. Learn your prospects preferred way of communication. It can be as easy as asking them if they prefer phone calls or emails. If a phone call, ask if a cell number is a better way to connect. Connecting on social media such as LinkedIn is a good way to establish another outlet for communication and may make your next call more personable.

2) Be professionally persistent. It is not uncommon that a prospect may tell you to call back in a couple of days. Yet, they don’t answer or call you back. What do you do now? Persistence doesn’t mean call and call every day for two weeks hoping to get the person to pick up. A better approach is to mix it up. Make a couple of calls a few days apart. If no respond, send an email in a few days. Then perhaps circle back with a phone call in a week. Then maybe an email via LinkedIn a week later asking if it makes sense for you to keep following up. If no response yet you believe they are an important prospect, circle back with a follow-up call in a couple of months. If they are not that important, disqualify them as a prospect and move on to the next one.

Sales is all about timing, the buyer has to need your service or product before they will give you their undivided attention. If your first cold call leads to a “not right now” don’t take that as a “never going to happen.” Stay connected so that you will be the one they think of when the need arises.

Job Match for Better Sales Performance


A rSales Matchecent Harvard Business study revealed that the long used criteria of college degree, experience, age, will not appropriately depict the future success of a sales professional.

The better option is to make a better match between the individual and the position itself. There are certain things that will make a person successful in a particular role within a particular company. Management’s responsibility is to figure out what these are. What are the requirements in doing the job? Does a sales person have to management their time well? Is there a great amount of detail required in a sales presentation? Is there a lot of cold calling and is that person comfortable on the phone for extended periods? Or, how important is closing at first contact?

The second part of evaluation should focus on the individual’s traits and how it pertains to the type of sales role they are hiring for. Such traits might include; ego, drive, empathy, forceful, decisiveness and communication. Assessments are a good tool to use to test the natural behaviors of an individual. During an interview the hiring manager should honestly and clearly lay out everything he or she knows about the work the job will actually entail.

If the candidate possesses the appropriate behavior qualities that are in alignment with the behaviors of the job, then the employer can provide the needed product knowledge and functional skills. But when the individual lacks the essential dynamics, training alone just cannot fill the gap. Although, error-free personnel selection still remains a dream, the study does point out what businesses can do to start moving in the right direction.


Telling your Prospect NO


Sometimes you’re faced with a prospect that despite your best efforts is looking for the cheaper, easier option. As a sales professional this is when you have to realize the effort put forth may be wasting more time, money and resources than its worth.

If they ask for a demo without a first discovery call, tell them “No.” When they want you to send over a proposal or product information without giving you five minutes of their time, say, “No.” Now “No” doesn’t have to be a blunt “No.” You can massage the answer to sound something like this, “I would be happy to walk your through a demo (or send you a proposal), yet before I do, can we take 5 minutes to discuss what’s going on in your business so I can tailor my overview (or proposal) more specifically to your situation.” Most will say, “yes.” If they still won’t give you the time of day, consider it a dead lead and don’t waste your time any further.

As the saying goes, “There are plenty of fish in the sea” and the sooner you realize you have a bad prospect, the quicker you can move to the next good one.

Leadership vs. Management

Start Your SalesScore Profile
Join Our Newsletter

For Email Newsletters you can trust

"I definitely recommend Safari Solutions employment process to anyone. They are extremely professional, energetic, motivated, and able to quickly build rapport. I was very impressed with their communication abilities to convey the hiring clients’ needs. Safari Solutions was quick to answer all my employment concerns, and took as much time making sure the job was right for me, as me being qualified for the job. Working with them, I felt like I had a partner throughout the hiring process. It has been nothing but a pleasure to work with Safari Solutions."

~ J. Shepard, Project Designer

Get Adobe Flash player