There’s a lot of braggadocios and loutish behavior in the world right now…whether it be in business, sports, or politics. It seems like it is almost a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of whom can make the loudest noise with the least amount of graciousness. I believe that we, as individuals, can take steps, however small, to improve the tone and behavior in the sales world…and the greater business world, too.
For example, let me be specific about what we can do in these two areas:
- Giving Credit
- Split Accounts
You may be the top salesperson at your company, and I hope you are, but you have not achieved that success by yourself. I’ve always enjoyed it when the QB of the winning team in a big game accepts the plaudits of the interviewer by acknowledging the contribution of his offensive linemen. It’s really the same thing in sales.
An individual salesperson may win the quarterly sales award and get the recognition from the senior management team but what about the people in other departments that helped them receive the award? Unfortunately, I’ve known a number of salespeople who seem unable to recognize that they had a tremendous support team to help them ‘hit their number.’
The most successful salespeople, and sales managers, absolutely understand the importance of the team in their individual success. The best companies that I’ve worked for not only have sales awards, but they also recognize the importance of the account management teams by having commission plans and award recognition for those teams.
Finally, I’m a big fan of the concept of ‘praise in public and criticism in private’. When one of the salespeople on our team scored a big win, I would make sure and not only verbally praise that person in public but also make sure that my company’s senior executives were copied on emails praising the salesperson and detailing the sale. Conversely, when a salesperson needs to be coached or receive constructive criticism, I think it is far more productive to do the coaching in private.
The definition of a split account is one where two different salespeople are responsible for the same account. For example, in the advertising sales world, you might have one salesperson work with the ad agency in Los Angeles and another salesperson working with the client in New York. So, when there are sales and revenue goals, you might have that accounts’ goal split 50/50 for each of the reps.
I’ve worked with many split account situations in my career and while the revenue responsibility is usually 50/50, the sales activity rarely is. In my experience, one rep usually does most of the ‘heavy lifting’ in the partnership. The challenge for a sales team is when one rep, usually the one doing most of the work, becomes vocal about the perceived inequity of the 50/50 split. My experience has shown me that sales teams need to ‘play like a team’ and when your team has one, or more, individuals who are griping about splits, this negativity can spread to infect the entire team. Sales management needs to put a stop to this behavior immediately after it appears. I would suggest meeting in-person with the complaining salesperson and discuss their behavior. Sometimes, a sales manager really doesn’t want to have that conversation, particularly if the rep in question is a top performer. But if the negativity isn’t stopped when it first appears, the entire team’s morale (and sales success) will be hurt.
Split accounts with 50/50 splits are rarely “fair”. But, it is much more difficult to subjectively apply percentage of revenue toward each rep. So, what is the BEST approach for handling split accounts? I suggest going with the 50/50 split…while it’s not perfect, it is better for all involved then trying to subjectively come up with a different percentage split. And, in the long run, it is better for the business to make this question simple and consistent.
Careers in sales are great because you have the opportunity to meet lots of people who each have their own individual story. The best salespeople I know have a natural curiosity about others and are usually very good listeners. I believe that all of us need to listen more…to try and understand the other person’s perspective. Just because someone is loud doesn’t make them right. Great salespeople aren’t the loudest talkers, but they are often the best active listeners