How to Reward Your A-Players and Make Sure Reps Keep Their Heads in the Game
As your sales team shifts to working from home, your sales managers need new tools and ways to effectively coach, motivate, and manage their reps. We know this is no small ask, so we developed a playbook with six essential plays designed to help your team perform its best—from any location. The first two plays explain how to Stay Close to Your Reps—Even When They Are Far Away, and Identify Your A Players. Here we present the next two plays:
Play 3: Reward Your A-Players
Play 4: Sure Your Reps Keep Their Heads in the Game
Reward Your A-Players
Once you’ve identified your A players, you need to reward them. When deals dry up due to macroeconomic conditions, so will reps’ variable comp. And when that happens, they may decide to move on.
Losing salespeople, especially your best ones, comes at a huge cost to the business. Consider the tremendous investment in recruiting, onboarding, and ongoing training. Plus, think about the effort to replace them—top performers are hard to find, especially when the economy goes south.
Keep top performers on your team
When the economy turns, focus on paying your best players for the great plays they execute, even if they don’t immediately lead to a win. Behavioral data empowers you to do that, especially if you can identify the activities that lead to closed business.
Activity-based comp plans offer a two-fold benefit by:
- Allowing your hardest working, most focused players to reap the biggest rewards
- Incenting less committed reps to move on
Automatically track rep behavior and activities
But how do you put your hands on essential behavioral data? Asking reps to self-report will leave you with incomplete and suspect information—especially if reps know their paycheck is based on what they report. Your own observations as a manager may also be incomplete if salespeople are remote and can’t be observed directly.
That makes automated data capture the most reliable option. The data People.ai gives you equates to a reliable foundation for your comp plans. People.ai eliminates subjectivity because it goes to the source of what reps do day in and day out—their calendar and inbox. We capture and upload this data into CRM and the BI platforms that feed your comp systems.
Reframe your comp plans to compete effectively
Once you’re ready to set up activity-based comp plans, focus them on meaningful measures. When salespeople recognize that compensation will be based on behavior, they will immediately start executing heavily weighted activities at higher rates. Consequently, make sure you’ve locked in on the types and sequence of activities that lead to more business.
People.ai will surface the metrics that matter:
- How many people your reps need to meet with to get a deal done
- Which roles are typically in the buyer group
- How many touches per stakeholder lead to the best outcomes
- What’s the optimal ratio of email, phone, and face-to-face meetings
Incent your reps to perform their best
One of the best ways to motivate salespeople is to give them real-time information on how they are tracking against their comp plan. Share dashboards with salespeople and managers so they always know the score. (We’ll go into more detail on this in the next play.) In addition, you can incorporate behavioral data into SPIFs to drive short-term focus in targeted areas, such as opening a new territory or driving growth for a new offering.
Make Sure Reps Keep Their Heads in the Game
Selling is about collaboration, so when the team gets spread out, energy levels and focus can drop fast. Salespeople get frustrated when they can’t interact with each other and don’t know where to spend time. They may also experience anxiety as they contemplate the real possibility of not meeting individual and team targets. In the worst-case scenarios, they may give up and stop contributing altogether.
Help salespeople perform to their full potential
This is the time for coaches to help their reps maintain positive energy, perspective, and performance. It starts by providing a prescriptive plan that will keep them busy and, more importantly, highly productive.
Here are three areas where managers can focus as they help reps move deals over the line:
- Single-threaded deals. Few deals close based on a single relationship. Good managers push their reps to establish a network of contacts within an account and help them determine how best to engage key players.
- Engagement by role. It’s not enough to focus on the number of relationships reps establish within a given account. The buying committee comprises multiple roles. Deals move more quickly and close more frequently when reps get the entire committee plugged into the sales cycle as soon as possible. Great coaching involves identifying missing roles and working with reps to pull them into the deal.
- Visible next steps. Deals move forward based on the activities salespeople initiate. But when the going gets tough, reps may lose momentum. By simply asking “What’s the next thing you can do to move this deal forward?”, managers can immediately put a salesperson back in the game.
People.ai captures the following powerful behavioral data, which allows managers to zero in on the points described above:
- Total volume of emails, phone time, and meetings
- New business meetings booked and completed
- Decision-makers engaged
With this information at their fingertips, managers will spend less time understanding what’s happening and more time helping reps shape what will happen moving forward.
For example a rep might be working a deal hard but isn’t selling high enough into the account. Sharing this insight with a plan to reach highly influential stakeholders can re-energize the salesperson.
Or perhaps a rep booked eight virtual meetings with prospects, but only converted the one where an executive got involved. It’s quite possible this rep needs to take a new approach to meeting preparation.
“The typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves
6 to 10 decision makers.”
Make selling a team sport again
Enlisting salespeople to help peers close deals has a huge impact on team morale and camaraderie. Take advantage of the fact that your salespeople have spent years building relationships with influential people. By surfacing these relationships to everyone on the team, you’ll immediately spot who’s in a position to make warm introductions to stakeholders who could make the difference between winning and losing a deal.
People.ai can help make this kind of selling a reality. We map the relationships your sales team has built and surface the ones that will lead to more business. But unlike social media that makes assumptions about relationships based on connection requests, we assess actual behavioral data—such as the frequency of meetings or email exchanges—to gauge relationship strength. Put this capability in the hands of your reps and you’ll see the level of collaborative selling and warm introductions spike.
Tap into the competitive spirit
Managers often see the best performance from salespeople competing to win contests. With that in mind, use leaderboards to track the key metrics that will lead to success and harness your reps’ competitive nature. If you’re capturing reps’ activity data and using it to coach and incentivize them, you’ve already done the hard work. Pull that same data into leaderboards, and peers will motivate each other to stay on track.
You can also assign points to the desired behaviors, perhaps by weighting activities based on their importance in the deal cycle:
- Individual emails, phone time, and meetings score lower points
- New business meetings booked and completed as well as decision-makers engaged score additional points
- Closed opportunities score the most points
Access the results in People.ai or publish them using a simple tool like email. Be sure to call attention to high performers and encourage friendly rivalries. Also, give salespeople the ability to recognize each other by posting virtual “high fives,” tags, and comments.
Activate Your Modern Coaching with People.ai
These two plays explain how to identify and reward the activities that lead to closed-won business. You can activate these by harnessing People.ai to:
- Develop comp plans that balance these leading indicators with desired outcomes like quota attainment.
- Motivate salespeople to perform their best by sharing dashboards showing how they are doing relative to behavioral targets.
- Uplevel coaching sessions by giving managers information about how salespeople are spending their time and recommendations on how they could spend it more effectively.
- Encourage team selling by asking reps to leverage the relationships of their peers.
- Use leaderboards and gamification to foster friendly competition.
Download our playbook, Out of the Office But Still in the Game for the full set of plays that will position your organization to win with a remote sales force.
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