Profitable Sales Growth in Six Steps — Step 5: Motivate Your Sales Force to Succeed

Chad Albrecht and Glenn Hollister

Good salespeople share at least one trait: a desire to win.

Chad Albrecht and Glenn Hollister of ZS Associates say sales leaders should keep in mind these four basic considerations to successfully motivate their sales forces.

  1. Keep the compensation plan simple. - A complicated compensation plan with multiple objectives can be confusing, and if salespeople don’t understand the plan, it won’t effectively drive behavior.
  2. Decide whether to measure reps based on profit or on the revenue they generate. - When it comes to revenue versus profit, Albrecht says that alignment with strategic goals is essential. “The overall strategy has to carry down to the incentive plans and metrics the salespeople are held accountable for and rewarded on. In that sense, motivation is not just getting them to act, it’s getting them to sell the right products to the right customers at the right price.”
  3. Make quotas fair. - Not all sales territories are created equal, and since most incentive plans are linked to quota performance, fair and accurate quotas are essential to motivating the sales force. Yet Hollister says that, despite discrepancies in territory potential, “some companies give every territory the same percentage growth target for a quota because they don’t know any other way to do it.”
  4. Use a combination of money and recognition. - “Money is a primary motivator for sales organizations. But at some point, salespeople have made enough money to be happy, and the extra work required to make more just isn’t worth it,” Albrecht says. “At that point, money is less meaningful as a motivator, in which case being recognized in front of peers by a senior person in the company can actually have far more impact.”

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About the Experts

Chad Albrecht is a ZS Principal based in Evanston, Ill. He leads ZS’s B2B Sales Compensation practice. Chad has helped numerous clients create and implement motivational sales incentive plans and set fair and challenging sales quotas. His clients include companies in the medical device, pharmaceutical, high tech, manufacturing and business services industries.

Glenn Hollister is a Principal based in ZS Associates’ Chicago office and the leader of the firm’s Transportation and Logistics practice. Glenn has advised more than 25 companies, including a number of the world's leading airlines, couriers and other transportation companies. In addition, he has worked with companies in the hospitality, loyalty program and travel technology sectors. Glenn is also responsible for developing the firm-wide travel strategy for ZS Associates' global staff.