Spoke with a pal of mine working inside the colossus that is IBM. Salesteam morale has just taken a bit of a battering, as the structure of all sales contracts has just shifted due to economic slowdown fears. Whilst Management claim the high-achievers will do better, the water-cooler chat is apparently far from favourable. The upshot is that many feel that they’re doing not just the same work, but more (as targets rose from last year already) for less money.
They’ve altered the mix, so that base salaries are lowered, and the bonus elements are increased, whilst also making the accelerators simpler to reward over-performance.
My mate’s annoyance at this gave rise to his stipulation that every sales person should devote part of their time to cultivating an extended salesforce. This’ll be nothing new to those invovled in managing channels of resellers, yet how many of us do so in informal ways? His take was that you must seek out your own such relationships, rather than solely rely on marketing-driven, corporate initiatives.
Whatever your product or service, who else is selling to the same target market? The same people? The same kinds of firms? The same users of similar brands? If you can identify these, and be sure that they won’t be willling or able to ‘steal’ your business, then sacrificing say 20 points on margin would be highly worthwhile to remove those dozen or so tasks that are incredibly time-consuming and unrewarding at the beginning of each sales cycle. And it’ll be a lot easier to agree a seemingly one-off deal ‘sweetener’ to a third-party introducer with your ‘powers-that-be’, than dredge through another reseller sign-up process 😉