Do you really need a sales team?

Sometimes, sales are not done by single personnel, but by groups working in tandem with each other. This is not to say that regular individual sales personnel are not supported by an entire organizational structure, as they are. In fact, the importance placed on sales incentives is more often than not, not viewed favorably by other staff, who point out that it takes an entire organization and not just sales personnel to achieve positive results.

Having said that, while some incentives may be introduced for non-sales employees, where sales are accomplished by a team, not by individuals, incentives structures need to be accordingly adjusted. The starting point in such scenarios is to define the team. More specifically, who constitute the sales team? All sales personnel who have a finger in the pie, so to speak, should be included in the team, so as to ensure that they do not respond adversely to each other’s incentives.

Secondly, the formulation of a sales team should not merely be a process of putting together individual sales personnel. Linda Kuritzkes of Teambuilding Inc., USA says that “When recruiting individual sales people, companies usually look for strong individuals, with ‘killer’ selling skills, who are motivated by personal achievement.” However, “Taking a group of individuals and asking them to work as a team is often harder than it seems.” According to Kuritzkes, you need to “make sure that there are some true synergies to be achieved by the team that cannot be matched by individuals working separately. Effective teamwork is tough and takes training, management, and lots of communication.”

Scope of work of team members

Evidently, then, you need to brainstorm your business’ need for a sales team and then recruit and train the right people – those who are receptive to working with others. The hierarchy or emanating management structure must complement the working of a sales team. For instance, if individual players report to more than one boss, their managers must pull in the same direction.
To be affective, an incentive must to desired.

With this in mind, the compensation plan must be structured to include a team component. Each member’s proportion of team and individual incentive may vary, depending on their role and its relative importance to achieve the overall goals of the team. If a members’ failure to contribute poses a major risk to the fulfillment of a team’s objective, he/she may also have a percentage of fixed pay linked to his/her output. Further, the head of a sales team, who has secondary business objectives to fulfill besides sales targets, will have a small portion of his/her incentives determined by sales. The latter portion will be bound to his/her other functions.

Basically, fairness dictates that people making the same effort and achieving similar results should be on the same incentives scale. To judge this, apply a simple rule of thumb – if each member’s incentive were to be disclosed, how would other team players react? Brainstorming this answer will help the management establish a transparent incentive structure based on best practices.

Incentive structure must align with business goals

Dubey says team efforts need a clear definition of the responsibilities, functions and activities of each member. Individual performance should be gauged through activities to be performed – such as client response period – which are worthy of reward, whereas the teams’ performance may be tracked by means of deals closed or the achievement of its broad goals.

Once the tasks of each individual member of a team are laid down, a weight must be attributed to these functions depending on their relative importance and the effort entailed in their successful accomplishment. A plan should ideally be tested before being frozen, and members taken in confidence to approve the incentive scheme.

Invariably, an incentive structure that has been correctly configured will work. At the end of the day, the management needs to ensure that the compensation plan is aligned with business goals so that it achieves its purpose – motivating employees to achieve desired sales targets.

Charu Bahri is a freelance writer and author of two books. She also writes funding grants and software for a charity working in the health sector


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