When Landing a Whale Swamps Sales Motivation

by Chris Arlen on July 15, 2011

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When Landing the Whale Swamps Sales Motivation

Hitting sales quotas in one fell swoop can bring their own motivational problems

We should all have such problems – the landing of one large contract that covers the year’s sales quota all in one go.

If you’re the sales rep, you’ll think (quietly to yourself) you’re done for the year, more golf with clients.

However, if you manage sales reps you’re thinking how can you get them back selling.

Lot’s of success all at once brings its own problems. For sales, problems are almost always about de-motivating successful reps. Here are several motivation killers along with potential solutions.

Motivation Killer #1 – Whale into “House Account” after Signing

A “house account” is a whale that no sales rep will get commission on, nor credit for, nor count towards their quota.

When a very high profile account is secured lots of people want credit. Especially the firm’s executives wwho have coveted the whale for years.

The firm’s rationale is that many more people (read execs) were responsible for the sale than the rep alone. Therefore, why should the rep get all the glory? This is especially true in large corporations when execs justify themselves upstairs.

If execs want to de-motivate a sales rep, just make a newly landed whale a house account after its landed. (Yes this happens, and has happened to me.)

This is truly a sales rep’s worst-case scenario after signing a large deal: no acclaim, no commission, and quota still to fill.

Positive Solution – TELL ‘EM UP FRONT

Before the beginning of the fiscal year, as part of sales planning, management should:

1) Identify all “house accounts”
2) Publish that to all reps before the start of the year
3) Inform all new reps of “house accounts” when they start

Motivation Killer #2 Re-setting Quotas

With the landing of a whale many firms re-forecast their sales for the year, which makes sense from a business perspective. But some firms will go further. They’ll raise the rep’s quota for the year. The firm’s logic sounds like this:

“The rep didn’t have to work hard to land the whale, it fell into their lap. Anyway, we don’t the rep coasting for the rest of the year, we want more.”

And it’s true, when self-motivation is turned off or down, so goes the selling effort and results.

However, re-setting quotas effectively moves the rep’s goal line further away after they’ve crossed it, which is sure to have the rep looking for a new employer.

Positive Solution – FATTEN COMMISSIONS

Temporarily raise the commission pay out for the balance of the fiscal year. This can be done whether a rep reaches their annual quota from a single contract, or hits it halfway through the year with lots of minnows.

Either way, the firm is winning because these temporarily higher commissions only apply after the yearly sales goal has been met. They’re paid under the same calculations as the normal schedule and conditions, i.e. when paid and for how long – except the pay out percentages or dollars are larger.

What’s the downside? There is no downside.

Other Sales Motivation Killers

These are only a couple of motivational killers for sales reps. What others have you come across?

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