In my sales career, I’ve consistently noticed five common afflictions that affect sales teams, each of which reduces morale and sales performance. Any one occurrence of these problems does not necessarily hurt the sales effort, but if allowed to progress to extremes, they can be harmful. Here are the last two afflictions and how to counteract them.
Affliction 1: Capping or reducing income. Powerful companies have managers who are envious when large paychecks go to the sales force. Managers who are resentful of this often respond to rising sales income by reducing commissions, capping earnings, reducing territories or removing products. These are all practices to be avoided because they destroy morale, which hurts sales.
When it is absolutely necessary to cap or reduce reps’ earnings, it must be done carefully. If it’s done carelessly, management sends the message that future earnings for the sales team have been limited. Powerful salespeople want to leverage today’s efforts into greater sales and income for tomorrow. If their commissions are reduced, earnings capped or territory is removed, they feel like that ability has been taken away, and the high performers quickly look for employment elsewhere.
Affliction 2: Favoritism. Salespeople want to work for companies that keep the playing field level for all. If select salespeople are given extra incentives, special attention, benefits or favors not afforded others, management is sending a clear message that there is a privileged class within the team. Reps then spend their time trying to move into that special class, instead of closing sales.
Wasting time, poor sales meetings, poor strategy, capping income and playing favorites are, with few exceptions, situations to be avoided. They are destructive to morale and lead to poor performance. Effective managers are careful to avoid these situations, and astute salespeople bring these practices to the attention of management for correction.
John R. Treace has more than 30 years of experience as a sales executive in the medical products industry. In 2010 he founded JR Treace & Associates, a sales management consulting business. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and the author of the new book “Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization.” For more information, visit www.treaceconsulting.com.