Should a Salesperson be Punished after a Huge Sale?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 04, 2015 @ 11:05 AM

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My wife and I watched with a combination of fascination, sadness and shock as the coach of our son's 12 and under AAU baseball team made them run suicides after the double header they won on Saturday, and again after the double header they won on Sunday.  Why would he punish them after winning four games this weekend?  And how does this apply to sales?  You'll be amazed by what you read.On Saturday, the team had a chance to win both games by the mercy rule (the game ends if one team is ahead by 10 runs or more after 4 innings), but let the other team back into the game both times.  The coach didn't like their effort and execution and taught them a lesson by making them run suicides for 20 minutes after the second game.

On Sunday, the team won the first game, but allowed the other team to tie the second game forcing extra innings.  They eventually had a walk-off win, but once again, he thought they were flat, didn't like their effort, pointed to mental mistakes, and made them run suicides for 30 minutes after the second game.

As his parents, this punishment overshadowed a very impressive ball-crushing performance by our son.  But for the coach, the team's performance comes first.  The coach is paying more attention to behavior, attitude, and effort, than he is to the score.  He believes that by focusing on these three things, he will drive home the lessons he wants them to learn from this.

Shouldn't sales leaders be applying these lessons with their sales organizations?  While the best sales leaders do, in fact, follow this strategy, many sales leaders pay too much attention to sales results - the numbers - while ignoring the significance of metrics and conversion ratios that lead to revenue.

For example, Bob leads the team in sales this quarter with $500,000 in sales and he is praised, recognized, and presented with an award for his outstanding performance.  But it's a sham.  Bob landed one deal the entire quarter instead of the 6 he should have closed.  Although his quota for the quarter was only $300,000 and he killed it, if this deal hadn't come through, he would have been dead last.  Additionally, this deal was forecast for the previous quarter, so he really had nothing going on this quarter.  Had sales management looked more closely, they would have seen that he did not add any new opportunities to the pipeline in the quarter, and had only 6 conversations on just 12 outbound attempts.  Where was his effort?  What's with his attitude?  And where was the behavior?  Should Bob have been the hero or should it have been pointed out that he sucked all quarter and happened to get lucky once?

Clearly, it benefits the entire sales organization to call attention to a big deal and a quota-buster.  We want to make sure that everyone knows that these results can be achieved and should be achieved.  At the same time, if the other salespeople approach Bob and ask how he did it, the opposite effect will occur.  They would learn that it is OK not to make calls, not to have many conversations, and not to convert those conversations to meetings.  Additionally, they would learn that ineffective qualifying and forecasting can pay off, and letting prospects off the hook, not closing the door, and being passive and mentally lazy can work as well.

The scenario with the Bobs of the world is no different than what happened last weekend with the baseball coach.  We can't reward results unless the attitude, effort and execution that led to the results was consistent with those results.  In addition, we shouldn't punish salespeople who put forth the proper effort, attitude, behaviors and execution, only to come up short.  When we identify the most meaningful KPI's, and recognize salespeople for achieving those, the results will come.

[Update - Stick around and read the comments to this article, add one of your own, share it on LInkedIn or Twitter (buttons above the photo) and read this follow-up article.]

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales conversation, Baseball, sales behaviors, sales KPI, sales effort, sales forecast, sales execution

How to Get Business to Fall From the Sky

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 @ 22:01 PM

It's predictable, phenomenal, and fulfilling. I'm talking about the magic that occurs when you and your salespeople leave their comfort zone and work hard to perform the very activity, behavior and actions which, when left to your own devices, you would choose not to do.  Whether it's a salesperson who finally:

  • embraces prospecting,
  • begins asking good, tough, timely questions,
  • recognizes the importance of thoroughly qualifying their opportunities
  • actually closes at closing time
  • rises to the occasion when the going gets tough

I've been witness to this magic for 37 years and without fail, whenever salespeople finally do what they must do - consistently - even when it's difficult, it happens.  It's happened to me.  It's happened to everyone I've ever worked with when they put forth a genuine effort.  So what is this magic I speak of?

Rewards.  Gifts.  Business that comes out of nowhere.  It's not the stuff you've worked so hard on - that's earned.  You know it's a gift because it appears from out of nowhere.  When you do what you are supposed to do, you do it with conviction, and it's something you weren't consistently doing before, you will be rewarded with business.

I was witness to it once again this month - right in my own company - when one of my colleagues was rewarded with five unexpected projects in the first two weeks of January alone. He was rewarded because he worked harder than ever during November and December, in the face of resistance, at a time when it would have been easier to celebrate Christmas early.

Are you ready to personally experience this magic yourself? What can you begin to do - consistently - that you haven't been doing?

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, sales motivation, sales effort, sales rewards

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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