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Another look at steps to shape high impact sales improvement





While talking to clients this week, about how to improve sales when teams are feeling pressured and overwhelmed, it reminded me of a blog which continues to be relevant. Take a look at how to shape high impact sales improvement within your business… 

"But what do you actually want me to do?" I was chatting with a client Sales Manager and he was recounting how one of his team asked this plaintive question after a long discussion about 'driving margin', 'customer growth' and 'reducing attrition'. 

If you need to drive high impact sales improvement, especially in a Turnaround situation, whether it’s the whole business or particular divisions, employees can lose direction and confidence – and while a sales bonus scheme is not the only element which can drive recovery, it’s essential to make sure that your scheme design signposts what people actually need to do to make a difference. Check out if you are falling into these traps: 

1. The targets are just too high to achieve: if the targets to hit bonus are too high, sales professionals will just give up – they are only human. Small steps are the answer – little increments give people a new target to focus on and pushing that little bit harder gives them a sense of purpose and reward. 

2. The sales bonus scheme fixates on outcomes: the business may desperately need EBIT growth, but if salespeople don’t really understand what they need to do to deliver good customers and profitable revenue, they can put their efforts into the wrong place. 

3. No coal on the fire to make it burn: even in a Turnaround business, you will need to invest in sales bonus. Expecting professionals to deliver growth to take the business out of the red is just as hard, or harder, than moving the needle when you are in the black. CFOs may need to be influenced if they are in the ‘we’re not making profit so we can’t pay bonus’ camp. 

The solution? 

Consider creating clear signposts for sales professionals; – there are Bronze clients, there are Silver and there are Gold clients. A scheme we developed for a sports organisation selling sponsorship, identified what the real dial-movers were in signing up sponsors – and paid different levels of bonus depending on the quality of the deal.

Classifying sponsoring organisations into Gold, Silver, and Bronze accounts and improving the bonus payable according to classification had the following results;

Sales employees understood for the first time, the value to the organisation of key metrics:

  • Longevity of deal
  • Quality of sponsoring partner (i.e. an aspirational brand over an everyday brand (Jaguar vs. Honda))
  • Size of deal
  • Payment terms

The sales executives also understood how they could improve the value of the sponsor partner (i.e. longer tie-in, earlier payment) to the organisation and therefore increase the value of the bonus for themselves.

So, in a Turnaround, or any sales situation where swift, high impact improvement in sales is needed, why not consider a new approach? Break down the key elements of success and then package them up in clearly understood categories so that sales professionals can take back control. This will move customers up your value chain, in return for greater reward for the team. 

If this has sparked your interest, give me a call on 020 3457 0894.

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