Whenever I think about my first days in sales, I always remember my second sales meeting. The meeting began with the usual pep talk by the management. If you have attended more than two sales meetings in your life, you know exactly what was said. “Sales are good . . . but they could be better. Our competition has a new product, but we can sell around it.” And so on for the next 30 minutes.
Toward the end of the meeting, the sales manager asked the top producing salesperson to say a few words. I’ll never forget what she said, mainly because it was completely different from what I expected. And judging from the looks from management, I don’t think they expected it either.
“Some of you are new to the company. Those of you who have been here for awhile know what I think of the pep talk we just got. There’s nothing wrong with it — it just has nothing to do with why any of you are in sales. You are here for only one reason, and that reason is not making money for the company.”
“Your only job is to go to the bank and deposit bigger and bigger commission checks. And if you ever forget that’s your job, or think there is something else more important than bigger commission checks, get out of sales.”
Melinda, that was her name, knew what a salesperson’s job is — Putting money in the bank. Not what’s on the board, not what’s written, not what’s a sure thing, not winning a sales contest, but what gets put into your bank account.
Many salespeople lose sight of why a career in sales was so alluring at first — unlimited earning potential. Very quickly they discover that not every prospect will buy, that there is not an unlimited number of prospects coming through the door, and that other salespeople will be glad to provide hundreds of excuses for why the number of sales made is low.
At this point, the salesperson consciously decides that a reasonable dollar amount has to be earned each month and back calculates what that translates into as total sales. This “total sales” number then becomes the dollar amount goal the salesperson strives to achieve.
While this approach is practical and logical, it does not provide the motivation for the salesperson to perform at more than an average or below average basis.
Every salesperson should know what dollar amount he needs to pay the bills. In addition, he should also have the goal of doubling that number within a year. And the following year he should double whatever the figure was from the previous year.
If you agree that your job is going to the bank with bigger and bigger checks, then you also agree that you need to make more and/or higher dollar amount sales. Thus the act of making the sale to the customer does not become the goal of the salesperson, but rather it becomes a step the salesperson takes to reach his real goal — bigger and bigger checks.
Ask the best salesperson in your company what his personal goal is, and it will be to earn X more per year. Ask a salesperson in the middle of the rankings what his personal goal is, and it will be to meet his sales quota. Do you see the difference?
There is nothing wrong with putting bigger and bigger commission checks in your bank account unless you’ve decided that your job is to meet quota.