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Salespeople are a crucial part of the business. With the right approach, they can help you generate millions even if you are starting from scratch in a new market. We’ll share what made us earn $15 million and what might help you see your sales force management differently.
Give your sales team well-defined instructions for selling complicated products
Our product is not only complicated — but it is also pretty expensive. So most of our target audience cannot afford to purchase it with a single payment. To address this, we started searching for a reliable installment partner and taught the sales manager to lead customers to make purchases. It’s a very different approach from telling a client to take a loan of $5000 from a bank to buy the product.
Instead, we trained our sales force to make customers opt for installments unconsciously. They don’t ask customers whether they want to take a loan or not. They say: “We have a reliable partner which allows clients to pay in installments. We sent you a link. Open it now, and we can check together whether or not your loan will be approved.” It lets the sales lead customers smoothly without asking them to pay for anything.
To protect ourselves from adverse reactions, we broadcast our positioning: we inform our prospects that it’s commitment-free. This is why only 5-10% refuse to take loans, and 80% of courses are paid for in installments.
Test different motivation systems
We noticed income peaks at the month’s second week and end, which is probably common. This happens because of the sales manager’s mindset. Salespeople get a plan at the beginning of each month, and since they earn money at the end of the month, they decide to relax and conduct a sale closer to the month’s end. Of course, there are more conscious sales managers, but most think this way. Only 37% of salespeople are consciously effective.
Our goal is to develop new techniques to improve our sales process. However, any system or plan can work forever, so we try something new regularly.
For example, we have tried introducing a weekly plan. The month is too long a period to check the effectiveness, so this helped keep salespeople motivated: to reach the goal, they have to work hard every single day. The results of the new system were evident in the first week. For example, on Monday, we implemented this new approach. And on Friday, we doubled our earnings from $1.3 million to $2.8 million. No other system changes were implemented that same week.
Another type of motivation system we tried was the “helicopter money system” by Milton Friedman. It is a thought experiment describing how people would act if money fell on them from a helicopter. Similarly, we announce that today, any sales manager would get a certain amount of money if they complete their plan. It gives short-term motivation that pushes the sales team members to do their best to win the prize.
Moreover, we implement a system of contests among the sales teams, give material presents to the best groups, and so on. The number of ways to motivate our sales force is infinite, so we keep a record of the systems that were proven effective to use in the future.
As a result, our sales team doesn’t get a chance to pause and take a breath — they earn immediately. Our experience shows that constant change of plan and motivation system leads to a noticeable profit increase because salespeople are always toned, and income is regular, they see a direct impact on the result and their motivation rises constantly.
Hire money-oriented sales managers
In our experience, there are two types of sales managers.
- Those who work to get a salary and remit earnings that are 70% salary and 30% commission.
- Those who work to close sales, persuade customers, and increase weekly revenue. They remit earnings that are 30% salary and 70% commission.
We conducted interviews focused on salespeople’s money motivation to find sales managers of the second type. Our experience shows that the best salespeople want to earn money to achieve a specific goal. In line with this, we asked what they saved money for and why it was necessary. All salespeople in our team now have financial objectives: to save money to move to Canada, support a family with two kids, or buy a car. Being someone’s solution to problems is profitable if you are a sales manager.
To transition the existing team to a new system, you may hire a second team of sales managers without firing the first one. We tried teaching and re-educating those who aren’t interested in money, but it didn’t work. So instead of doing this, we formed a second team of salespeople working to earn 30% from their salary and 70% from the commission. After some time, the second team started making two, three, and four times more than the first one. The “original” salespeople were divided into two groups: more motivated salespeople began asking whether they could change the payment system, and less motivated salespeople weren’t pleased with the competitive environment and quit.
To control the budget, we developed a fair system to calculate the commission:
- If you hit less than 80% of the target, you get no commission fees.
- 80-100% of the target brings a minimum bonus of 2-3%.
- 100% brings 5%
- 120% brings 7.5%
This system made us grow by more than 20 times from the beginning of April till the end of September.
The challenges you may face
- You have to build trust between your salesforce and leads. A weekly plan and 70% salary with bonuses won’t work if the sales managers don’t trust that they’ll get their earnings in time. So try to uphold your promises, and communicate with the managers as openly as possible — don’t keep quiet about the challenges.
- The time to test product effectiveness is limited, so don’t bombard your sales managers with tasks. Through trial, we estimate every specialist’s effectiveness and build a plan around it to prevent burnout and task overload.
- Pace yourself — don’t hire too many sales managers at once. Remember that your onboarding resources are limited. On average, one needs two weeks to integrate a new specialist into processes. We faced the same problem, and now we want to automate it. We’re building a corporate university for sales managers to provide fast and effective onboarding.
Of course, our system requires time to build, onboard new people and fire those who don’t show noticeable results. But it’s a system that allows us to create a team of genius salespeople who will generate millions for our company.