Informative practical answers to tough sales questions - sound advise and tips to help you win more sales!

Every month I receive a variety of questions from salespeople and their managers. These come from a variety of sources - my live seminars, the monthly phone seminars, questions that are sent into my newsletter, and issues that arise in the course of my consulting work. Out of all of these, I select those that I think have the most universal application, and respond to them here.

More Quesitons and Answers Articles Sales Development Questions & Answers by Dave Kahle

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?

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.

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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.

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 your compensation plan to more accurately reflect your 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.

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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:

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}

Sales Management Myths: Straight Commission... I had just hung up from a phone conversation with one of my clients. He was commiserating with me on the sorry state of his sales force. He had a group of seasoned, experienced salespeople, each of whom was making a good income on a 100% commission compensation plan. The problem was he couldn't get them to promote new products or seek new customers. They were content to stay within their comfort zones of established customers and familiar products. That contentment is more typical than most of us are willing to admit. Many sales managers and principals continue to strive under the myth that sales people are forever motivated to sell ever larger quantities. And we attribute much of that motivation to the 100% commission compensation plan. Unfortunately, straight commission plans rarely motivate an established sales force to sell more!.... {Read More}

How to Get 'Em to Do What You Want 'Em to... That's probably the question I'm asked more than any other. Frustrated distributor CEO's and sales managers express that thought over and over, in one way or another. They're talking about their salespeople, of course. They harbor a feeling that some of their salespeople just aren't doing what they want them to do, and they don't know what to do about it.... {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

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

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