This is a “must-read” for any startup CEO that wants to hire and retain the best sales reps.
Some comments by myself….
1. I absolutely understand this. A quality sales rep with a problem effecting customer satisfaction or a potential deal will scream at every part of the company until he/she is heard. Rank hath no privilege with these guys….as CEO I am a resource for our sales team to use just like everyone else.
2. But, the problem comes in when other parts of the company don’t understand this. The legal department, the finance department, the support team – they don’t like sales reps pushing them too hard. They complain when they think a sales rep is being “rude” to them (they’re not actually being rude, they just don’t have time for the normal niceties). This, by the way is a real issue that needs managing because you need to retain a respectful culture and sales reps needs to understand that “you’ll catch more bees with honey than vinegar”.
3. Customer satisfaction is not something that has a written definition of how to achieve. It is a state of mind and a philosophy. Everyone in the company needs to understand that (a) Customer satisfaction is absolutely our highest priority and (b) The sales team are the ones most likely to tell us when there is a customer satisfaction problem.
4. Everyone in the company needs to understand that the tail doesn’t wag the dog. Look at the management team….who is spending time with customers truly understanding their needs? I have had many, many discussions on this subject. Don’t be a company dictated to by legal or by finance or by operations. Those roles are critically important but they are important in supporting the key objectives of the business….happy customers and revenue. Too much red tape and your best sales reps will leave.
5. Some other things to consider for hiring and retaining the best sales reps….
- Do not screw up their commissions – spend the time and the effort to ensure that they are accurate and ON TIME.
- Do not “cap” commission plans – top reps want to believe that the sky is the limit, not some artificially imposed commission cap.
- Do not “bait and switch” in commission plans. Hey, I know it may seem egregious to pay that huge commission check, but just pay it and then, take a copy of it and show it to everyone else in the sales team.
- Always create incentive programs outside of the commission plan. Reps like to compete and, even though they can afford that vacation anyhow, making it a President’s Club trip means that they will do anything to get there. You will not believe the deals that can be closed when there is an incentive trip on the line.
- They like to be recognized and put on a pedestal. Make sure that your top reps are recognized company-wide – they like the way that feels and will want to come back for more.
- Be willing to take their call anytime and be accessible (and mean it!! i.e. don’t sit in your ivory tower and insist that everyone kneels before you – be real). It may be cleaning out red tape internally, it may be getting engineers on a plane to sort out a customer problem, it may be talking about structuring a deal, it may be talking to a customer to ensure that the customer understands the commitment
6. Of course, the quid pro quo in all of this is that, if they don’t perform they get fired before anyone else. But they know that, it’s not personal.
I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I’d prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to.