Sales Compensation--Fair Play, Fair Pay
Spear, whose sales force is fairly young (average age: 35 to 40), concurs: "In terms of other benefit needs, I can be flexible. For example, one may use a corporate-owned vehicle rather than using his own car. But there is a profile that fits the optimum salesperson for our business. I expect each salesperson to fit that criteria."
* Which Roads Lead to Zones?
Almost every printing company CEO encounters this: After x number of years, a salesperson feels comfortable enough to "slack off." He/she stops prospecting for new clients and, consequently, the amount of new business drops. The rep is burned out. Consultants refer to this malady as a "zone" or a "plateau."
It's a big problem in the industry, contends DeWese. "It happens particularly to people who get burned out after 40 or 50 years and say, 'I'm just not going to work harder. Been there. Done that.' "
Ideally, printers should prepare for this when first designing a compensation plan. Unfortunately, most printers have some kind of program that has been in place for years, and there is no industry census concerning the shelf life of an average print salesperson.
"We've had happy salespeople who reach a plateau," Bray confesses. "If they produce profitable work, you're not going to put them out to pasture. But you do want to encourage them to grow."
DeWese suggests that nothing will push a sales rep to do more once that individual has become comfortable. However, you can set performance standards, offer inducements and try to explain that a salesperson who is limited to a handful of accounts will see last year's earnings of $65,000 drop to $45,000 if an account is lost.
A typical salesperson may take a different slant toward prospecting. One sales rep points out that a large portfolio requires a great deal of follow-up and maintenance, thus prohibiting new account development.