Aligning Your Corporate Story and Sales Comp Plan

As a business leader, you’ve probably heard others say …

“Salespeople only focus on … what they get paid on.”

To one degree or another, there is truth in this statement. And we often hear this phrase when working with companies on repositioning, product launch or solutions portfolio initiatives.

Why? Because, inevitably, decisions made in these planning processes impact what you sell, who you sell to and the story that is shared in the sales process.

So, as we begin talking with clients about the impact the new story will have on sales, someone in the room always says …

“Our sales team is not going to tell this story. It doesn’t help them achieve their quota or align with how they get paid.”

An example of how a new story can impact sales would be a company moving from marketing individual products to more of an integrated-solution story. The current sales comp plan is rooted in quarterly product sales quotas … not selling a portfolio of solutions and services.

In this case, getting your sales team to change the story they are sharing with prospective customers can be a challenge. Many salespeople will say, “The new story is too broad, not specific enough. It doesn’t help me sell product a, b or c tomorrow. It complicates the sale.”

While this may be true, what many reps don’t immediately recognize is that the new story also has the power to change the perception a prospect has of you and the value you deliver. It has the potential to elevate your value proposition and further differentiate your offerings from the competition.

Regardless, you must recognize that the new story is injecting change into your sales organization.

When this happens, you have three choices:

  1. Modify the comp plan to directly align with your story.
  2. Thoroughly educate and guide your sales team through this change.
  3. BOTH.

The reality is that your salespeople’s livelihood is anchored in their comp plan, and compensation drives sales behavior. So, if there is a significant disconnect between the story you need to tell in the market and how salespeople are paid — you need to help your sales team connect the dots between the new story and how it helps them make money.

The bottom line is that changes in your story will not be reflected in selling conversations until your sales team understands how it can help them make more money. That doesn’t mean it has to help them close a deal tomorrow. It does mean that your salespeople have to understand how the new story can help them make as much money, if not more, down the road.

When you do this, your smart salespeople will see how the new story sets the business up for long-term success and how they can generate more earnings throughout their career. That’s because the best salespeople not only look at their job as a way to make a lot of money — they also see it as a way to add value to the customers they serve.

Lisa Earle McLeod calls this, “selling with noble purpose.” That’s what high-performers do. They tell the story that illustrates how they can deliver the most value to a customer. Not just the story that will close the deal faster. And according to Lisa’s book, Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud, this approach works. Lisa says sharing the story that illustrates how you can bring maximum value to your customers and selling with a higher purpose is hugely profitable (for both the rep and company).

2018-05-02T10:25:14+00:00 May 2nd, 2018|

About the Author: James O'Gara

O’Gara has spent thousands of hours formulating winning go-to-market strategies and stories for dozens of Fortune 100 companies and hundreds of high-growth businesses. O’Gara’s expertise in go-to-market strategy development, customer research, messaging and positioning, as well as customer-centric culture development, has earned him the respect of executives around the world. His ability to breakdown strategy, sales, marketing and positioning challenges in complex industries has been invaluable to CEOs and CMOs at a number of leading companies.

About OnMessage

OnMessage is the B2B communications consultancy executives call when it counts. When strategic shifts in the business take place, when financial performance is on the line and when the message absolutely must deliver material business results.

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