Sales staff, by their very nature are competitive animals. In many businesses there are external and internal sales teams, with the sales force on the road complemented by the team in the office who follow up leads and expedite the orders.
To motivate the external Sales team we design complex commission schemes, giving them a direct reward for the results they achieve. The internal team also benefit from a reward based incentive, generally based on the performance of the whole team rather than them as individuals. It all sounds like a perfect solution, but what happens when times are tough, sales harder to come by or leads not quite as ‘hot’ as they were heralded?
I recently came across a Company with a classic team of ‘Hunters’, strutting their stuff across the UK and feeding their new clients to a hard worked internal sales team back in the office. The process often boiled down to a basic message to the internal team to call a client for an order and for the external sales team ‘job done’. The office was generally a chaotic mix of staff running around trying to understand the leads they had been given and progressing orders. So what had gone wrong?
In this example the leads and details passed by the external team were inconsistent. The internal team were in perpetual panic mode, trying to understand what was required of them and failing to deliver a timely response. The output of this confusion was a high failure rate and increasing conflict between the teams with each feeling the other was negatively impacting on their commission earnings, the ‘blame game’ was in full swing. So how can we avoid this situation?
As with most business processes, this is not rocket science and the magic words are ‘communication’ and ‘teamwork’. All staff involved with the process should have a ‘skin in the game’ with shared goals and an incentive to work together. External staff should never be strangers and should schedule in regular ‘face-time’ to build their relationship with their internal team colleagues.
Success will be generated by good quality communication from the external sales team and quick response time from the internal team. Feedback between the 2 teams should always be open and productive.