There Is No Easy Way!

by Jun 22, 2020

And In the Beginning...

There is no easy way!

I had a great conversation with a sales leader this week of a great corporation. He is working his way through reframing the reconstruction of his team. There is no easy way to do this. And he is doing ALL the right things. And he will forever transform his BIG company if his leadership can just “buy-in”. I believe they will in this case.

What does making that shift look like?

Start with understanding your WHY (see Simon Sinek – YouTube videos galore). Make sure that you have a clear picture of what your corporation is working to accomplish. Think big picture “humankind” type of objectives. Then make sure that what your own team does to fit into that bigger picture. Not a revenue contribution discussion. A true understanding of PURPOSE. AND to work, it all must be outward centric. About the world, the clients, the people outside of your own team. No silly euphemisms about “world-class”, “number one”, “biggest”….all “meisms”.

Now that you slog your way through that minefield you have to dig into WHAT it is that your team will DO to truly “make a difference” with your clients. You don’t get to simply deliver “different”, your focus must be on the co-creation of value that the client recognizes is UNIQUE. Not something that everyone else is ever going to attempt. That’s a deep well. Keep digging till you hit true paydirt on this one.

Ok, we’ve got it figured out and we need to dive into structural discussions about roles, responsibilities, and compensation. Here is where most everyone struggles…. The compensation. Many times in conversations with sales leaders working to pull all this together their true struggle is with the variable compensation part of the rebuild. I won’t go into the discussion about Commission POISON here (see my prior blogs). EXCEPT there is an “out” that folks try to use. Instead of paying individual compensation based on performance to quota etc, the idea pops up that “hey, we will pay commission based on team/client results”. That sounds reasonable, and they head down that path all excited that they have neutralized the poison. Nope… just changed how the poison will get manipulated and injected. Let’s examine that a bit. The harsh reality is that leaving any sort of variable compensation that is this narrowly focused will still have all the same effects as a personal commission, it simply redirects the focus of how the outcome will be manipulated for the good of the compensation. Any remaining element of such a measure will still taint the service to the client and defocus the team from pure service. So how do we lead these strange folks called salespeople? If not by money…how? See my blogs on Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose by Dan Pink. In short, you must coach and lead them just like you should do with every other person in your corporation. And that’s where most often this move to rebuild a team and have them focus on the client and not their compensation dies…. When sales leadership suddenly realizes that they will lose their compensation “control” and manipulation of people and actually have to do the hard work of coaching and leading they freak out and proclaim that this can never work here…. NEVER.

As I said at the beginning… there is no easy way. We create greatness through a lot of hard work, not by manipulating people, but by helping them grow.

In Satya Nadella’s book (Hit Refresh) about the transformation of Microsoft, he talks about creating a company driven by a sense of empathy and a desire to empower others. He goes on to talk about his passion to put empathy at the center of everything he pursues. He writes about the culture that they are building that has a “growth mindset”. Critical to note here is that his reference it to “growth” of the individual, not the bottom line. Where in any of this brilliance is there room for the manipulation of people through their back pocket?

For a bit of a twist, however…

There IS room for a variable comp part of the plan. And it works GREAT. We have been doing this for more than 2 decades. Fundamentally, everyone, including sales, has a small percentage of their compensation tied to a handful of global corporate goals. These should be something that everyone can relate to and see that they can have contributed towards. A few examples would be corporate revenue growth quarter over quarter; corporate gross margin (you want to have salespeople stop lowering prices, teach them gross margin). You can include revenue growth of specific areas of focus for the corporation, cost controls in specific ways. Many different metrics can be deployed. I suggest that they be consistent across the entire corporation. It helps greatly if you truly want to get everyone rowing the boat in the same direction.

And to not leave you without answers to coaching and leading… Here are the 2 best in our space.

Hendre Coetzee is the world’s best coaching coach…

Dave Brock is the best sales leader that you will ever see…

There is no easy way to create the BEST!

So let’s go do the work!

Mitch Little

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