Sales Compensation--Fair Play, Fair Pay
None of the printers we interviewed would discuss his compensation plan in detail; however, Ron Bray, president and CEO of French Bray, in Glen Burnie, MD, rewards salespeople who not only bring in new accounts, but who also maintain and develop existing clients.
Harris DeWese, a principal of Radnor, PA-based Compass Capital Advisors, indicates that loyal accounts become more profitable as time goes by, but become less sales and more customer-service intensive. "A company with salespeople who compete for every job differs from a company whose sales force has little or no competition for a job. People who do more face-to-face selling should be paid at a higher level, and generally they are."
However, a CEO should determine the value of a particular type of account long before developing a sales team. Once armed with a well-mapped strategy, the printer can address other hiring issues.
"You need to hire the right people for your culture," notes Jeffrey Spear, president and CEO of The John C. Otto Co. in East Meadowland, MA (part of Houston-based Consolidated Graphics). "We interview six to nine times before letting someone join our family. It's like getting married—we make sure the individual really wants to be here."
One sales manager for a $36 million web and sheetfed label printer in the Midwest, notes that most salespeople seek a level of security, like a base salary or rewards for excellence (bonuses).
What about customized compensation plans? In the search for a kinder, gentler workforce, should we base compensation plans on individual need? After all, as Chadwick notes, a 55-year-old will have different income needs than a 30-year-old.
But most printers believe that individualized plans are fraught with danger. DeWese discourages custom-built compensation plans. "I'd rather be consistent," he states. "Joe Salesman won't keep his mouth shut, and pretty soon everyone will find out that he's getting 11⁄2 percent more than anyone else. "