We've got a team of sales people who handle sales in a self-elective manner from a helpdesk funnel.

Basically the workflow is as follows:

  1. Customer places order
  2. Order appears in helpdesk
  3. Sales rep elects to handle order

A similar workflow exists for simpler requests as well as quotations. Working on commission wouldn't be an option because it would definitely create an environment counter productive to our business, for example the sales reps could:

  • Elect to only handle large value orders
  • Handle too many orders which would result in a lower quality customer experience
  • Become aggressive / negative towards one another

The down side of this of-course is that there is not really an incentive to handle more orders, i.e why should you work harder if there isn't much benefit apart from it reflecting well on your business ethic. (Don't misunderstand me, I personally see great value in business ethic, but sometimes people can overlook this).

I was thinking that an alternative to commission could be a sales incentive, where the combined results of these areas (sales, quotations, queries) is all taken into account on a month-to-month basis & the top performer could receive a bonus of sorts for being sales person of the month.

The weird thing with incentives is that they sometimes have effects which are counter productive to what you initially set out to do.

How can I go about creating a holistic sales intention which would be both productive for the business as well as for the members of our sales division?

Thanks in advance!


This is not a novel issue - the problem here lies with your workflow and not with the incentive system.

You must remove the ability for the salespeople to choose which orders to handle - the prospects should be assigned either randomly or by their manager who'd be financially responsible for the total results of the team. The only choice they should get is "I'm overloaded, don't give me any prospects even if they're good ones", definitely not an option to cherrypick which ones they get. However, once they're assigned a prospect (and will be held responsible for it's success), then it's their choice on how to handle it.

This is compatible with the commissions model. Does it make sense to handle a low-value prospect with minimum effort in order to focus more on the large-value one? Does it make sense to handle all the prospects available or neglect some of them to give a better quality to the important ones? If your commissions model is properly designed and aligns your profit with the salesperson income, then they'll make the appropriate choices there.

| improve this answer | |

A key to creating good incentives is to clearly articulate the behavior that you want to encourage and the behavior you want to discourage. Then you can assess the effectiveness of different incentive proposals against these goals.

The risk with individual incentives is that it can create internal competition that can hamper effective team work. For example "person with most revenue gets the bonus" can trigger behavior where people spend time preventing other team members from working effectively. For example if one person has found a really good method to speed up quotations, they are not likely to share it with other team members.

Alternatively consider a team incentive: the whole department gets a bonus that is based on a combination of metrics: total revenue, customer satisfaction, average time to handle an request. Now people benefit from sharing information, helping each other, and working together to build a better system.

| improve this answer | |

You may be working with people who are not accustomed to a commission. They don't like the variability and the stress.

Many places track call count. They encourage people to finish a call as soon as possible, but that may not be preferable to the customer. Zappos is an example of a company that is just the opposite: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/zappos-10-hour-call_n_2345467.html

You may want to come up with some over-all metric for the sales volume. Determine an over-all amount to be used for bonuses and either give everyone the same amount or build a scale based on seniority or hours worked during the week (I don't know if everyone is full-time or not.).

That doesn't mean there aren't other types of evaluations to get rid of people who don't do a good job. It can be discouraging for others if there are team members that don't pull their weight and they think of this in broad terms and not I handled 12 calls but you only did 11 so I should get way more. The goal should be not to discourage people. This can be accomplished if they know they share in the company's wealth and they are part of a team that has standards for being a member.

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.