This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 5 – WHAT TYPICALLY HAPPENS NOW

Have you ever been on a sports team? If so, you probably learned lessons about teamwork that go beyond your sport and indeed beyond sports as a whole. Some of those lessons come with good feelings, some not so much.

For example, did your team win a game that required a comeback, or a miracle play? Or did your team win a championship game? If so, you know the exhilaration of a victory that is greater than just your own personal win.

On the other side, of course, was the other team and the way it felt ─ or that you felt if you were on the losing end of these big games.

In sales, you don’t get the big game feeling quite so much, but there are plenty of other analogies that are useful as metaphors. In sales, the feeling that is most analogous to participation on a sports team is kind of a constant mid-season feeling; the feeling that you get on a sports team when you have worked hard together for a while but still have a while to go.

You have worked together long enough to know who is strong and who is not; who digs deep and who doesn’t; who you can count on and who you have to look out for.

When I was a child (1970’s and 80’s), my friends and I played a lot of team sports, sometimes organized, sometimes not. Back then, like now, there was a premium on winning. Whether it was the high school football team, the neighborhood Little League baseball club, or a pick-up game in the park, the kids who got to play were those who played best.

Now forgive me for my old man rant here, but it seems like lately many parents are a bit too worried about self-esteem and playing time. Parents want their children to play whether or not they are good. Parents worry that feelings will get hurt if junior doesn’t get playing time. It has got to be a lot tougher to coach a children’s team now than it was a few decades ago when all you had to worry about was putting in the best players and trying to win.

I even read that in some places, the grand old tradition of the spelling bee is being dismantled. Why? Because the fact that one person wins means that others lose, and that feels bad.

In sports teams and in sales organizations, I believe that when those who do not earn something are given it anyway, everyone loses. Here is how that plays out in a sales organization.

Losers win
In a pure commission sales environment, everybody wins according to their efforts. No one cares how much salespeople make; it is based on their own success. If any company resources are directed at them at all, then some minimum revenue level should be met to cover the cost of the resources. Beyond that, everyone is pretty much on their own.

In organizations where compensation is anything other than full commission, salespeople who generate less than average sales revenue generally earn more than they should relative to the top half of the sales team. Let me explain:

Without going through the mathematical gymnastics, realize that base salary and benefits add a significant foundation to the pay of everyone in the organization. Most of the time, sales management puts some kind of monetary incentive on top of this, as it should, so the guys at the top are getting a little extra. But the guys at the bottom of the revenue curve are probably not covering their own expenses.

If the bottom 80% of the sales organization is contributing only 20% of the revenue, how much can the bottom third bring in? Most likely a very, very small percentage of overall company revenue. In most sales organizations that pay a base salary and benefits, this means that they most likely are making more than they are contributing. It is kind of like little Johnny who can’t hit the ball but who still gets to take his turn at bat, wear the uniform, and go to the pizza parties ─ pretty nice payoff for not performing!

 

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David