Old school sales executives reflexively dismiss the idea of a compensation mechanism besides commissions for the sales department. It’s certainly true that plenty of people who’ve worked in sales for years—even decades—have never worked under such a system. The idea ignores a tradition and culture in the world of selling that dates back over a century. And it would be just about impossible to find a sales training methodology that wasn’t based on the assumption that salespeople are working to earn more money through commissions. (Heck, it would be impossible to even find a single book that’s not based on that assumption.)
And yet, my perspective after decades of experience as a salesperson, sales executive, and sales management consultant brings me to a radically different conclusion. I’ve come to believe that in today’s business environment sales commissions are holding our sales organizations back and creating unnecessary barriers between our companies and our customers. They’re no longer serving us well.
Leading an audience of skeptical sales execs to such a dramatic conceptual shift won’t be easy. Over time on this blog, you’ll read about the issue of sales compensation in a much larger context than you might be used to. It’s part of a top to bottom rethinking of how we run out sales organizations. (If you haven’t read it yet, the Teamwork Selling Manifesto is a concise overview of my ideas on the subject.)
I understand that making this case—the case for radically reimagining the way we run our sales organizations—is going to take some time. And I’m quite content with that. Asking business professionals to rethink some of their most deeply ingrained assumptions requires a shift in perspective that demands a meticulously laying of the groundwork. That’s what this blog is all about.
What I’d like to do in this post, however, is to simply plow a little bit of intellectual ground. I want to nurture the beginning of a different way of seeing what’s right in front of us. For that, I’ll turn to Derek Sivers: a musician, entrepreneur, and business theorist extraordinaire.
Take two minutes (literally) and listen to this mini-lecture Sivers posted on YouTube. Unless I’m mistaken, I think you’ll find the grip of your unconscious assumptions about life and business will begin to loosen perceptibly.
Leave your thoughts in in the comments section below.