It’s not often that a radical idea enters the sales world and significantly alters the way that things are done. However, there are many assumptions about the traditional approach to sales management that are not correct, and a radical idea was needed to make things optimal.
The Radical Approach:
In many different areas of work, there is a well-defined division and process of labor amongst employees. However, this is not the case for many salespeople, who are responsible not only for selling but also quoting, prospecting, lead generating, doing sales reports, etc. In order to increase productivity, an attempt was made to remove activities from the sales team. The idea was that freeing up their time and providing the sales opportunities was only incremental in improving productivity. So a radical step was taken: taking away their autonomy. The salespeople were then sat in a room and fed prospects one at a time, and it was made clear that performance was mandatory so that it was no longer done on a commission-based compensation method. Productivity skyrocketed.
Selling the Radical Approach:
It can be difficult to sell the idea of this radical approach to salespeople directly, but very easy to sell the proposition in practice. If a salesperson is told they’re going to be stripped of their autonomy and commissions, most people will not respond in positive. But if you frame it as being put in a calm environment where everything is done for you, and you’re only going to be responsible for selling, and your compensation will be market value, it becomes more appealing to some sellers.
Removing Adjacent Functions: Yours to Lose Business
Part of the success found with this radical approach is taking away excess responsibilities from the salespeople so that they can focus purely on selling. There are three main areas that are stripped from a salesperson’s title and established concretely in other departments. The first area is taking salespeople away from “yours to lose business,” where repeat customers are acting on the momentum and coming to you with an outstretched hand full of money. Instead, this function should be delegated to the customer service team, so that it can be completely self-sufficient in order processing, quota generation, and issue resolution when it comes to repeat customers.
Removing Adjacent Functions: Engineering
The next area that you want to pull salespeople from is the generation of documentation. Instead, this responsibility should be given to the engineering department so that it can take total control of design and document generation. This is a tedious task for salespeople that is better handled by an engineering specialist, freeing up time for the salesperson to sell and increase their productivity.
Removing Adjacent Functions: Marketing
Marking teams become responsible for generating 100% of the sales opportunities, including prospecting, lead generation, etc. The largest difficulty to overcome with the marketing team taking over lead generation is that many marketers don’t know how to generate opportunities that are scalable. Part of removing this function from the sales team and giving it solely to the marketing team means retraining them or creating new a subset of the marketing team that is solely focused on generating leads for the sales team.
Why it Works:
It’s well understood in academic circles that extrinsic rewards do not increase performance in knowledge work environments. There have been numerous studies that substantiate this claim, so it makes sense to eliminate commissions from a practical standpoint. Additionally, with all of the adjacent functions being removed and re-delegated, it doesn’t make sense to pay based on commission when there is a division of labor and salespeople are only responsible for one, albeit important, activity.