How to Lose a (Sales) Guy in Ten Days

5 min read

In the movie How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, advertising executive Benjamin Barry bets his co-workers that he can make any woman fall in love with him in ten days. Conveniently enough “how-to”columnist Andie Anderson decides to write an article about how to lose a guy. Silly capers ensue as Andie pulls out the big guns to drive him away. Think: Saying I love you too soon, tantrums, and interrupting boy's night. While the former items are likely to drive away a new flame, there are many things  that well-meaning companies might not realize they are doing to drive away their best sales reps. Read on to see how organizations are losing their best sale people, and how they can avoid making these mistakes. In today's competitive environment it's more important than ever to hang on to top performers. Here's how some companies unknowingly drive away their best sales reps:

Wait too long to pay sales people

When reps have to wait too long between closing a deal and payment, it can lead to poor focus, lack of engagement, and dissatisfaction. When employees’ rewards are out of sight and out of mind, those rewards are no longer being used to drive behavior. Sure, you’ll always have some members of your team who are willing to wait for payment. But if one of your competitors offers them their commission check as soon as they’ve earned it, you can bet your employee will take off for greener pastures.

Cap commissions

Sales reps work on commission for a reason, and they should feel like they are in a win-win situation. The more deals they close for your organization, the more money they should be paid. It’s as simple as that (with other considerations given to those reps who work on commission only). Unfortunately, many companies limit commissions after a certain point. Remember, your compensation plan drives the behavior you seek. Capped commissions undermine your efforts to inspire your sales force, sending employees a message to stop trying once they’ve reached a certain number.

Use one-size-fits all incentives for Sales People

Leave one-size-fits-all for hats and scarves, a good incentive plan will be anything but. If you want to drive the desired behaviors of all individuals or groups within an organization you have to differentiate and tailor your incentives. Incenting Millennials the same way as Baby Boomer does a disservice to both. Each generational group has unique needs and motivations. Take the time to tap into these differences and gain knowledge about the specific drivers of desired results

Manage territories carelessly

Sales managers spend tons of time defining and assigning territories, yet still struggle with visibility, accuracy, and timeliness. If sales resources across well-defined territories aren’t aligned and managed in real time, company goals won’t be attained. If you don’t have the right flexibility, as territory needs change sales reps might not be assigned to the most fitting territories, and workloads and opportunity might be unbalanced because of that. The unfortunate outcome? You lose opportunity and your best sales reps. Top talent is hard to find, so if you’d like to keep your sales guys and girls around longer than ten days, make sure to internalize the above list of what not to do. Incentive compensation is incredibly important when it comes to sales. Make sure you’re significant investment is working hard for you.