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  Dave, I'm finding it difficult to manage my salespeople in our straight commission environment. Any suggestions as to how I can get them to do what I want them to do?
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Personal note from
Dave Kahle
"I hope you enjoy this article. We have lots of resources on this site, ranging from dozens of similar free articles, podcasts, weekly features, books , CDs and video training programs. Enjoy! "

Here are some thoughts. First, let me recommend you go to read the article entitled, "How to get'em to do what you want'em to."

I'm not going to repeat that article here, but I do have some thoughts about the "straight commission environment."

I spent much of my adult life as a salesperson working on 100% commission. I would not have had it any other way. However, as a consultant and sales educator, I'm generally not in favor of 100% commission programs.

Here's why:

  1. It is difficult to more finely direct a sales force when you pay them 100% commission. You can ask them to do anything, but if it doesn't allow them to make more money right away, it probably won't get done. For example, you can ask your salespeople to prospect for new accounts. They may nod their heads at you, but they will probably just continue to work in their current accounts - where the business is easier to get. You asked them to do something difficult, but you pay them to get the easiest business. That's frustrating for you and them.

  2. 100% commissioned programs are based on a false assumption. The assumption is this: Most, if not all salespeople, are primarily money motivated, and will continually try to earn more money. The truth is that most salespeople work up to an income level at which they are comfortable, and then level off at that level. At some point, more money is not that important to them. At least not enough to prompt them to work any harder or longer. The most difficult sales force to manage is a group of experienced, successful and content salespeople.
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All this drives me to a conclusion. The 100% commission environment will continually be frustrating for you. If you are serious about wanting a more manageable sales force, do away with the 100% commission pay plan. Revise you compensation plan to more accurately reflect you company's strategies.

I have several articles on the website that address these issues. Feel free to tap into that resource. You may also want to download Kahle's Kalculation, my FREE compensation spreadsheet to help you measure the sales productivity of your sales staff.

If you have any comments or questions, email them to me.
I do, of course, reserve the right to edit.

Here are a few articles by Dave
that you might be interested in reading:

  • What's the Best Way to Find a Good Salesperson... Good question! It seems that everyone has a favorite response. Some people only use recruiters, and others swear by networking. But classified ads continue to be the most common choice. Almost everyone who hires salespeople will, at some time, search for prospects via the "help wanted" section.... {Read More}
  • Is it Time to Revise Your Sales Compensation Plan?... If you're paying your sales reps straight commission, you're using an obsolete formula. If you're paying your sales reps a straight salary, you're also using an obsolete formula. Read this article to find out a much more effective way to compensate your sales staff.... {Read More}
  • How to Deal with the Salesperson Who Has Leveled Off... Every manager has, or will, confront this troublesome issue. It's arisen in every workshop for sales managers or branch managers I've done. One or more of your salespeople has leveled off. Their performance hasn't improved much in the last few years. Where before you were able to count on significant increases each year, now you can not. You know that these experienced salespeople can do better, but they seem unable or unwilling to break out of a certain level of performance. You are scratching your head, frustrated, and loosing sleep at night wondering how to improve the situation. What do you do?... {Read More}
There are also many other action-packed articles for sales professionals that offer how-to solutions to every day sales problems that you can read online at www.davekahle.com/article.htm.
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave's training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.
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