I want to bring up something that I think a lot of developers and designers tend to forget: it’s not always about design and development.
If you don’t have any sales, then you won’t have anything to build.
Project managers, developers, designers—we all constantly underestimate the value of the salesperson. But it’s often the salesperson who is the highest paid employee when you calculate in their bonuses and commissions. Salespeople make business happen. Without them, we would all be out of a job.
I want to push the needle on how we talk about our sales teams. And I’m going to do that from my perspective as a CEO. These are my thoughts on how CEOs and anyone with leadership role in a company should treat salespeople.
Leading the Sales Team
The first step is to lead the sales team. Being proactive in leadership can have massive payoffs if it means your sales team brings in even 1-2 more $100,000 clients. To do this, you can set up games to motivate them to make more sales. Here’s an example: offer a paid cruise vacation to Cozumel for the top three performers on your sales team who meet a certain goal. Who wouldn’t want to compete for a free cruise vacation?
Always Have Stretch Goals
I mentioned in an earlier post that your sales compensation should include stretch goals for your sales team. Just going to stress that part again:
The key is to incentivize meeting those goals and stretch goals. Every time one of our team meets the first goal, they receive an extra 1% on top of everything they’ve sold. For every stretch goal achieved, we give a 3% bonus. These bonuses apply to every dollar brought in, from the first $500,000 to the second $700,000. When someone makes our stretch goal, they bring home an extra $36,000, which essentially doubles their salary.
Building a Community
Like most people, salespeople want to feel like they are a part of a community. Making sure your production team and sales team have access to each other. A great rapport between the two will go along way to building confident sales pitches. The more the sales team knows what the production team can do, the harder they can sell it. One easy way to do this is to simply have a space, whether it’s in the office or online, where everyone feels like they are a part of a community.
Understanding Sales Personalities
Salespeople tend to be goal-oriented, which is why I always have a whiteboard somewhere in the office that gets updated daily with the team’s progress and results. It’s kind of like the gold star effect in elementary school. Most salespeople are high achievers who want to succeed. Knowing that, you should provide ways they can show off their success to encourage them as well as motivate others on the team. A progress chart on the whiteboard is a relatively cheap and easy way to do just that.
They Need to Believe in You, Your Vision and Your Company
Everyone on your team should believe in what your business does, and it’s particularly crucial for sales success. In the daily grind it can be difficult to lose sight of what really matters. Even right now in the midst of (not one, not two, but three) beta launches, I try to remind everyone on the team now and then why it’s important what we do. Why it matters that we come in to work, that we give our full effort every day. It’s more than just a paycheck; it’s a kind of life philosophy. If you can tap into that, your sales team will know that what they do makes a difference.
As an example on how to show the values of your company, let me tell you about Jeremy from Mt. Dynamics, a mobile development company. He gave out a brick to every person on the team and told them, “We are the foundation of this business.” It may seem a little cheesy, but it can bring people together. Giving thoughtful, random rewards is a way to show why people should want to work for you instead of some other company. It’s about being a part of something bigger.
What are your favorite ways to show salespeople that you value their work?