Affliction 3: Poor strategy
Ineffective marketing or sales strategies will always negatively impact the sales team, and this is especially true for teams selling commodity products or services. A player with small market share who enters a commodity market without a well defined and well implemented strategy can be assured of certain death. These types of companies usually say: “It’s a huge market, and we can grab some of it,” but it’s not that simple. The sales team will recognise ineffective strategy and will lose faith in the managers who developed it. If the players on a sports team lose faith in the coaching, the path to winning will be difficult, if not impossible; the same is true with sales teams. Don’t let lackluster or nonexistent strategy cause this lack of faith.
To compound the error, companies often try special promotions to save sagging sales on products that are ill conceived or supported by poor strategy. Special promotions can be very effective, but managers should never call for a pointless charge of the light brigade. Sending the sales team on a promotion in support of a poor product or service is a severe tactical error. A successful sales effort hinges on good strategy, and companies that fail in this regard severely handicap their sales teams.
Affliction 4: Capping or reducing income
Powerful companies have managers who do not get envious when large pay cheques go to the sales force. Managers who are resentful of this often respond to rising sales income by reducing commissions, capping earnings, reducing territories, or removing products. These are all practices to be avoided, as they destroy morale, which hurts sales. When it is absolutely necessary to cap or reduce reps’ earnings, it must be done carefully. If it’s done carelessly, management will send the message that future earnings for the sales team have been limited. Powerful salespeople want to leverage today’s efforts into greater sales and income for tomorrow. If their commissions are reduced, earnings capped, or territory removed, they will feel like that ability has been taken away, and the high performers will quickly look for employment elsewhere.