In business, it’s all about the money.
Obvious, I know, but sometimes you’ve just got to seize the obvious, wrestle it to the ground and beat it senseless in order to make it work for you.
Companies get the money side of the deal—affectionately known as commission—wrong a lot of the time. If you want to land large deals, you have to change the money in a bunch of places if you want to make it work.
There are two simple ingredients that go into large accounts sales: time and people. Because it takes longer to land a large account than a small one, you have to hold the attention of sales people, who have the immediate gratification needs of a 3-year old, for a long time. The time-to-money ratio is not 1:1 for a sales person—the fact is that when you double the time it takes to land a deal you have to practically triple the money to keep them engaged.
Sure, part of that triple is built into the incremental commission of a bigger deal—and that can be a lot, depending on the size of the deal. But they’ll probably also need an extra something to keep them on task rather than getting distracted by little shiny objects, like deals that are small and fast to close. Stay with me.
So that’s the problem with time; you’ve also got to deal with people—not just sales people, ALL of your people. To land a whale, you’ve got to load up your boat with people of all skillsets (subject matter experts—or SMEs—who can speak the whale’s language), because one person (a sales guy) with a stick in the ocean is not going to cut it. How do you keep those people engaged as well? If they’re not seeing their efforts translate into money in a meaningful way (profit-sharing, bonus, spiff), they’ll too be distracted by the not-so-shiny-objects of their every day job.
To make this work, here are a couple of approaches:
1. Pay more for whales—spread it around. The sales representative is not the only person involved in the hunt. The fact is, after the initial interest is generated, the internal subject matter expert team does a lot of the heavy lifting.
2. Put a trophy-bonus on the wall. Don’t make it general, make it specific and personal. At one point in my career, I had a competitor for which I had a personal distaste. I wrote up on the wall that competitor’s top 10 clients and told my team, “I will pay a 20% premium on commissions for every deal we land from this list in the next 6 months.” We got 3 and it had a sweet taste.
3. Cut out the money on little deals. You can’t get people focused on bigger targets if they get similar ratios of money for smaller deals. Cut little deal commission in half. This is about changing behaviors and time investment.
Money is the driver and you have the gas pedal.