Leadership, Sales Management

The 6 signs your commission structure is doing more harm than good

The topic of sales commission structures and whether they should or shouldn’t exist is a widely debated one. Whatever your view, the fact is the vast majority of sales teams are operating with one so I guess at least for now, there’s a strong argument for them as opposed to against. What I can say from experience is there are signs your commission structure may need a re-think. Look out for the following:

Is there’s a flurry of new deals won shortly after your quota period ends

If you find that there’s a wave of new sales that come in shortly after the month or quarter deadline, you’ve probably got a commission structure that heavily incentivizes hitting a target but doesn’t incentivize performance over the target, certainly not in an attractive enough way.  Your sales people are ‘sandbagging’ to give them the best chance of hitting their revenue goals for the next month or quarter rather than helping the business to reach the best possible number of new sales for the current quota period.

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Feel Good Friday, Motivation

What made you proud this week?

For this weeks ‘Feel Good Friday’ head into the office this morning, write up on your whiteboard ‘Feel Good Friday’ and encourage your team to write a sentence or two about something that made them feel good. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something they did, it could be something awesome they saw another member of the team achieve and they wanted to recognise it.

And don’t think you need to have ‘manager’ in your title to lead this activity. The job title is never a necessity to lead.  If you have the desire to inspire others instinctively then just do it and see how such a simple activity lights up the room before everyone heads into the weekend.

Happy Friday everyone.


Motivation, Sales Management, Sales Training

Is your new sales rep doomed to failure because of these 3 things?

Whatever defines your sales training program, there’s no question that training a new sales rep takes a huge amount of time. The question is, are there things going on outside of your training program that is going to be holding you and your new sales reps back from success and undoing all your hard work? Find out here:

Don’t allow your new reps to train with sh*t leads

A new rep comes in, they’re learning, so they get given the lowest value leads to start training with. I understand we’ve got to protect this month’s quota. But be mindful of  your definition of ‘low-value leads’.  I’ve seen ‘low value’ in terms of ACV get confused with the leads your sales team find hardest to convert, maybe due to size, sector, buyer etc.  I understand that makes them low value, but is that really where you want your new reps training?  We want our new reps building in confidence every day, it’s so important to their longer term success. I’d argue we want them selling to the best leads, the ones we are guaranteed to win, the ones that will make our news reps feel like they’re sales heroes. Whatever you do,  make sure you are balancing your short term sales goals with the speedy development of your new sales reps who will be helping you achieve the longer term sales goals.

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Motivation, Sales Techniques, Sales Training

The 3 things every sales professional can learn from Steve Jobs

It’s pretty even out there on the sales battlefield. Everyone has access to the same talent, great sales technology and even the product & feature lists aren’t miles apart from one competitor to another. So what truly makes you stand out?

I believe this quote from  Maya Angelou explains it perfectly.

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did.
But people will never forget how you made them feel”.

Your textbook demo tour of all the product features won’t make your prospect feel anything on its own. The emotion that’s felt is in your delivery. The master of this and the guy who always inspires me is Steve Jobs. Whatever you think of  him you have to admire the way he sold his products in the late 2000’s.

He did 3 simple, but hugely effectively things.

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Leadership, Sales Management

We need to stop saying ‘good sales people make bad sales managers’. Here’s why

If you’ve worked in sales for a while you must have heard this said before, ‘good sales people make bad managers’ I overheard someone say it last week which led me to write this post. It’s an unfair thing to say and as leaders, we should be careful. I know some incredible managers and leaders in the sales profession that started working in sales.

I might be biased but my wife for one, one of the greatest team managers I’ve ever seen in action, she inspires her team and can lead others in her direction effortlessly.  An old manager of mine Stuart Lascelles, his calm nature was always so reassuring in a high pressured sales environment, my old friend Dan Newton was always in the trenches with his team, he genuinely cared about them. And my Dad, who I used to watch doing his job as a kid, he was a friend to each of his team but they all knew where the line was and wanted to do their best for him, a bit like he was their Dad.

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Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Recruitment

Is it time to change the way we interview Sales Professionals?

The internet is not short of lists of questions to ask sales candidates. Questions to test skill, behaviour, results, teamwork, all that stuff. But here’s my sales interview puzzle, how can you be sure if the nervous person sitting in front of you is any good at building relationships, arguably one of the most important skills in sales, as you test their skill during one of the most unnatural environments we are ever likely to find ourselves in, the dreaded interview.

What about if we did it all differently.  What about if we set the candidate up to show us who they really are. What about if we listened to our own advice on what’s important in selling and applied it to the interview process to let those great candidates shine through. Why aren’t we as caring with our potential new team members as we are with our potential new clients?  It certainly seems to be as hard to find great sales people as it is to win new business.  Or maybe winning business is hard because we haven’t improved how we hire. Here’s an idea.

What about if it was a meeting, not an ‘interview’

I deliberately say ‘meeting’ as opposed to ‘interview’ as it’s a scary word, most people fear an interview. How about if we propositioned it differently. Instead of ‘we’d like to invite you to an interview next week, we said, “I’m really interested in meeting you for a coffee and learning more about what you’ve been up to, do you have any time next week?

We’d never say to a prospect “I’d like to do a needs analysis to see if I think I can sell to you”.  We’re so careful with our use of language when dealing with sales  prospects, I wonder what it would be like if we applied that same care to our potential new team members?

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Feel Good Friday, Motivation

Are you in it for love or money?

I wrote a blog article earlier in the week on improving sales training with zero budget.  I talked about how important it was to love your own product to win business.  I mean really LOVE it, know it inside out, be a customer of your own product.

In the past, I’ve shown this clip to my sales team from Jerry Macquire. Rod Tidwell  can’t get the contract he wants because he’s showing too many signs he’s in it for the money and not in it for the love of the game.  Are you in it for the love of the game? Do you love selling? Do you love what you sell? Love can’t be faked, if you’re not, maybe its time to rethink the game you’re playing. And if that’s just a bit too deep for a Friday, then just watch the clip and enjoy it, it never fails to make me smile.



Leadership, Sales Management

5 Things I got my sales reps to do that I wish I hadn’t

I’ve been managing sales teams for 15 years so this definitely isn’t an exhaustive list of ‘if only’s’. But maybe this post will make you smile and reassure you that you weren’t alone in making mistakes, maybe you’re an aspiring sales manager or new to sales leadership and would like some advice, either way, I hope this is useful to you.

Roles plays. I hate them, I don’t know why I made my team do them

I’m sure in a few years we will look back and think why did we use sales role plays “that was weird”. We are not actors, we are sales professionals,  so why would we expect to be good at this. To start with it’s  really hard to replicate a real life situation and I’ve definitely added to the weirdness by throwing the camcorder into the mix ( I cringe as I write this).  It just creates a high pressured and unnatural environment which doesn’t add up to a great training experience for your sales rep. There’s no better way to learn than by shadowing real-life sales calls and pitches. My advice for new starters is to shadow and then work with another member of the team to deliver parts of the pitch. Start small, maybe its 20% of the pitch or maybe it’s just one of your products. As their confidence grows add additional parts until they are delivering the whole pitch.

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Sales Management, Sales Training

6 Ideas to improve sales training on zero budget

I read an article this week that claims 96% of sales professionals say sales training needs improving. That’s easier said than done.  Sales training can be highly expensive. It’s expensive in terms of time for sales managers to deliver it internally and it’s expensive if you hire a consultant externally. It inspired me to think about how I’ve trained my sales teams in the past that can be easily embedded into your sales team structure. So here are 6 ways you can train your team without having to secure a fat training budget.

Buddy up on sales pitches

The article showed that 65% of sales people believe advice from peers is more effective than company run training. So do a quick assessment of your team in terms of strengths and areas for development. Partner up your team accordingly and set a goal to shadow 3 sales pitches each in the next month. Create an expectation that shadowing sales reps should look for opportunities to improve their own skill from what went well and create a guide for giving feedback on areas that could be developed.  It’s a win-win for both reps.

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Sales Techniques

Why you’re losing your sales prospects at ‘hello’

When you’re chatting to your sales prospect you want them understanding one thing, how your product or service is going to help them.  Immediately after your presentation, your sales prospect will remember less than 50% of what you said,  a week later they will remember less than 10%.  Getting your sales prospect to retain information is difficult, don’t lose them before you’ve started by confusing them with your language, be conscious of the following 4 lingo pitfalls:

Watch the product lingo

You’ve got a whole suite of products, features and internal acronyms for your service. Remember the first time you chat with your prospect they have no idea what they mean or stand for.  If you want your prospect focusing on the value you provide and not confused by your product lingo, make sure you’re clear in communicating what you’re talking about.

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