Digital Sales Compensation: Neither Fish Nor Fowl
"It's important to create a sales job design spec, so the salesperson understands exactly what he or she is supposed to do, and knows what the expectations are," Devine points out. "The next stage is to create a compensation plan that drives the behaviors of the salesperson to achieve the results they're expected to get."
So who's selling what at the local printing shop? At Dayton, OH-based Think Patented, each sales staff member is expected to sell everything in the company's arsenal, reports Niels Winther, chairman and co-owner. Think Patented sales professionals are graded on their overall "bundle" performance—offset printing, digital printing, mailing and fulfillment, personalized URLs, digital store fronts, etc.
The beauty of bundling services, according to Winther, is that the package is a moving target, subject to change from time to time. This way, he can switch incentives to concentrate on a different area of Think Patented's product and service repertoire.
Should a potential buyer meet one of about six criteria triggers for a cross-media marketing program or other multi-layered initiative, Think Patented follows up with a team sales approach. That group could include a technology person, a database expert and a mailing guru to complement the sales contact. The buyer and the salesperson are complemented with technical experts to see if a partnership match exists.
The company grooms its sales members with an eye toward the team concept, with quality candidates fresh out of Clemson or RIT going through a management training apprenticeship program. "After two or three years, they're ready to go out and be that level of salesperson who understands multi-level marketing," Winther adds.
A Different Way to Pay
At Sandy Alexander, of Clifton, NJ, salespeople are compensated somewhat differently for digital jobs. Cheryl Kahanec, executive vice president of eSA Solutions (Sandy's digital subsidiary), notes that commissions are agreed upon up front for what is commonly referred to as "price-listed work" that is fairly static each month, including Web-to-print generated jobs. For large variable data digital jobs, the sales commission is based on value-added to the company.