If you have salespeople who really sell, not just manage accounts, they need an open-ended commission plan. Whether they are on salary plus commission or straight commission, the best ones need to know that their earnings are unlimited. The real pros will want less salary and a higher commission structure because they know they will earn more that way. If they feel restricted and that their plan is unfair, they won’t stay around for very long. As long as they follow the general policies of your company, turn them loose with a long leash.
Most great salespeople don’t really want to own the company; they love their freedom too much. So if they are allowed to make big money without a ceiling, they are likely to stay with you for the long term. But try to put a limit on what they can earn if they bring in profitable sales, and you’ve violated the one unwritten rule of super salespeople. If you’re ever lucky to have one or more super salespeople, take the roof off the commission plan.
A great salesperson should easily make more than his or her sales manager. These are actually two different positions and really shouldn’t be compared. And in some cases, the super seller will even approach or pass the earnings of the company’s owner. And why not, if he or she earned it? Who really cares if the commission goes to one person or to several? You’re still paying out the same amount. Imagine all the good that seller has brought to the company and all
the new customers. How many other people added together would it take to achieve that person’s sales numbers?
If salespeople are bringing in the big sales figures, they obviously need less supervision and a few perks to make them feel appreciated. The challenge of making the sale and their compensation is usually all they need. Most of them will dislike sales meetings if they eat into their selling time, so schedule them early or late. Super salespeople can easily motivate themselves and don’t need the continual supervision to perform well.
The thrill of the hunt for new customers is what really feeds these super sellers, so you may want to offer a two-step commission plan: a higher percentage for new sales or customers who haven’t purchased for two years or more and a secondary or lower percentage for repeat customers who need little or no selling. You can assign an inside customer service person to handle these routine orders. The salesperson should have regular contact with the customer,
though, and jump in if any problems or questions arise.
It takes little more than freedom and fair compensation to keep these valuable assets to your company happy. Super sellers are very self-motivated, so contests and pep talks are usually unnecessary. And most won’t like to help train or motivate the rest of your sales staff, either. So give them a good commission plan and then back off and let them do what they do best. You will reap the big rewards along with them.
If they’re happy, your sales staff will make you more than you’ll ever pay them, as long as they’re producing above average. It doesn’t matter if you have only one or twenty salespeople, encourage them and pay top commission. You’ll save on replacement and training costs, and your customers will show more loyalty