Did you hear about the company that made a sales professional wear oversized bunny ears and other demeaning costumes as punishment for not making her sales quota? Her superiors actually took pictures and used them in training presentations. Talk about brutal sales management!
While this example is outrageous, it points to the age-old debate regarding the best way to facilitate optimal performance from sales professionals. Typically the discussion focuses on motivation, and the choice between the carrot and the stick. But the far more relevant consideration is whether poor sales performance is really a motivation issue at all or instead a lack of skill and training.
It’s hard to imagine the sales professional who is able, but opts not to close the deal because it isn’t warranted by the pending punishment or reward. Nearly all sales professionals have income tied to their performance, so reward/punishment to their pocketbook is already in place. As human beings it is in our very nature to want to succeed. The desire is there. Often the skill is not.
Lesson for sales managers: Don’t rush to overhaul the reporting or compensation system as your first response to lackluster sales results. Be sure you have a consistent sales process in place. Utilize talent assessments and observation to identify knowledge and skill GAPs. Help your sales team find resources to make the needed improvements. This will position you as a facilitator for improvement rather than only an enforcer when failure occurs.
Lesson for sales professionals: It is human nature to try and hide our weaknesses, but it is in our best interest to tackle them head on. Share your challenges and weaknesses with your manager and engage him/her in identifying skill development needs and solutions.
Lesson for everyone: Remember the sales-rep-in- bunny-ears story, and don’t do anything you aren’t willing to have the whole world know about!