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9 Sales Management Tips to Improve Performance

Sales numbers down? Running out of ideas to help get those numbers over the line before the end of the period? You’re in the right place.

We asked around our crack team of salespeople and sales consultants for their best tips for increasing sales productivity.

1. Run a SPIF

This is the go-to way to improve your sales performance and deserves a mention because most enterprises still get SPIFs wrong (or at least don’t get them right).

How to Plan Sales SPIFs That Work Every Time

Most reactive SPIFs are poorly planned or badly executed, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for them as part of a well-planned SPIF strategy.

SPIFs are great but without proper planning, they can change rep behavior in a way that negatively the business in a way that isn't immediately obvious. #salescomp #spifs Click To Tweet

We always advise caution with SPIFs because without proper planning they can change rep behavior in a way that negatively the business but isn’t immediately obvious.

2. Uncap commissions

We’re not saying that you should never cap commissions but there is rarely a time when a cap is beneficial for anything other than protecting the business from some freak event.

5 Tips to Optimize Your Sales Compensation Plan

Look for areas in your sales comp plan that could benefit from the removal of the cap and experiment with it to see if it influences behaviour. Remove it if it is. Remember to include protections for the business should some freak event produce a flood of unplanned sales.

3. Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement works very well for dogs and also very well for humans. That doesn’t mean you give out a treat every time a rep makes a sale (although that probably wouldn’t hurt). It does mean giving public praise and random prizes for doing the right things and closing deals.

4. Healthy competition

It’s a cliche that salespeople are competitive for a good reason. One tried and tested way to lift the sales team is to introduce some friendly competition.

There are dozens of ideas for sales competitions (we’ve listed a few fun SPIF ideas here) and they all work to some degree.

Introducing the element of chance is a great way to incentivize "middle-of-the-pack" reps who might not be motivated by incentives aimed at top performers. #sales #salesmanagement Click To Tweet

Introducing the element of chance is a great way to incentivize reps in the middle of the pack, who may not be motivated by other bonuses targeted at top performers.

5. Check they understand the sales comp plan

One of the most common reasons we’ve seen for underperforming sales is confusion about the sales comp plan. Sales reps want to make sales. Don’t confuse them with overly complicated commission structures.

Sales reps want to make sales and they want to know how much they're making from them. A great way to get more of that former (sales) is to give them more of the latter (visibility into commissions). Click To Tweet

Check-in with the team regularly to ensure that they understand why each element exists and most importantly, how that relates to their territory and what they need to do to maximize their commission from it.

One easy way to boost sales and increase motivation is to give them real-time feedback about their commissions. That will reduce the amount of time reps spend trying to figure it out themselves (find out more about the costs of shadow accounting to your business here).

6. Check the comp plan is producing the right behavior

The incentives we create don’t always have the effect that we expect.

An incentive for one product may reduce sales for a different one. Without a lot of reliable data, it’s very difficult to tell what impact a change will have until it’s made.

It’s crucial that sales managers monitor the impact of changes to the comp plan and how sales reps modify their behavior to take advantage of changes to the plan over time.

7. Reduce commission disputes

The single most demotivating factor for a sales rep is when commissions are miscalculated or with-held, regardless of whether it’s justified.

How to Resolve & Reduce Sales Commission Disputes

High-performing sales reps are the least tolerant of pay errors and far more confident in their ability to find another job.

Commission disputes usually happen for one of two reasons:

  • miscommunication or misunderstanding about the plan
  • human error

The first can be solved with a clearer plan or better communication about it. If you’re experiencing a lot of issues because of human error, you should look into ways to alleviate the pressure on that team, such as automating payroll or investing in Sales Compensation as a Service.

8. Invest in sales intelligence (Analyze the customer data you have or buy tools)

Sales intelligence or revenue intelligence tools and activities can help to produce significant, ongoing improvements in sales. There are far too many sales intelligence solutions to cover in detail here, so for more information, we recommend reading this blog.

It is important to note that you can benefit without investing thousands in new software.

Sales Performance Intelligence: Why You Should Invest in it

The foundation of all those tools is the quality of the data that’s used. Invest in tools to help you validate and automate as much of your data gathering and processing as possible, and that will make it more useful and therefore more valuable.

9. Integrate customer support (& marketing)

As more product-led-growth enterprises see success in the public markets, the role of customer support teams in account and revenue growth is expanding. The line between sales and support teams is becoming increasingly blurred.

That’s not to say that sales teams will disappear — there is a place for “hunters” as well as “farmers” in the sales team of tomorrow, but the better you can integrate sales and customer support (and product and marketing), the better they will all perform.

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