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January 2013

How Managers Can Go Beyond the Carrot and the Stick to Motivate Reps

Cabrera_newToday's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation, the industry leader in sales compensation automation.


Many sales leaders hope to drive performance by enticing their reps with one tempting financial incentive after another. And that makes a certain amount of sense: what salesperson wouldn’t work just a little bit harder to earn a nice bonus? Seems like a no-brainer.

In fact, the link between money and performance is more tenuous than you might expect. One expert whose work I like in this area is author and journalist Daniel Pink, who has written a number of books on shifting trends in the way we work. His book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us uses 50 years of behavioral science to overturn the conventional wisdom about human motivation. Based on his findings, he asserts that “when cash incentives are offered in this type of problem solving, it dulls the brain and blocks creativity.”

That’s not to say money isn’t a motivator at all. Of course it is. People who feel they’re underpaid aren’t likely to strive to do their best. But when they’re paid enough that money isn’t an issue, Pink says, it clears the way for them to focus on their work.

The carrot-and-stick approach to motivation fails to recognize the following key motivators for salespeople.

1. Autonomy

Autonomy is the desire to be self-directed, to have enough freedom to try something new every so often. Pink found that companies that wanted to spur innovation got better results when they gave employees freedom to do what they wanted rather than offered an innovation bonus.

One notable example of autonomy at work is Australian software company Atlassian’s “ShipIt Days” ­– hack-a-thons that give employees 24 hours to deliver a project of their choosing.

Sales leadership tip: In sales, autonomy might mean letting reps set open-ended goals after they’ve hit the company quota. Instead of capping commission, let sales reps achieve (and earn) as much as they want. Give reps the opportunity to prove their way into increased sales responsibilities.

2. Mastery

Mastery, of course, is simply the drive to get better at whatever it is you like to do, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, writing code, or selling widgets. Tap in to sales reps’ competitive nature. If you want them to master a particular skill, hold a contest or offer a SPIF.

Hand-in-hand with mastery comes the natural desire for recognition, which is too often overlooked. In a 2011 survey, Globoforce found that 69 percent of employees would work harder if they were recognized more.

Sales leadership tip: Mastery is easy enough to orchestrate for a sales team. Recognize accomplishments on public leaderboards, via email blasts or social/mobile technology, or at weekly team meetings.

3. Purpose

Purposecan be lofty, as in working to make the world a better place, or as down-to-earth as a salesperson’s wanting more from a job than just the next commission check. Sales leaders can lay out a career path that rewards reps for their successes, moving them from inbound to outbound calls, for example, or from SMBs to larger and larger firms.

Sales leadership tip: Successful salespeople might aspire to be seen as experts in their vertical or become coaches to less-experienced colleagues.

For more on motivating your sales team with more than just dollar signs, see my SlideShare presentation, “Insights on Motivation.”

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What's in a Next-Gen Sales Pro's Toolbox?

1d912eeToday's blog post is by Jacco van der Kooij, sales leader at Harmonic Inc



Traditional focus: internal tools that power the sales process

Over the last decade, marketing and sales processes have been very focused on understanding and managing the transactional part of the business. These include processes that focus on lead generation, demand generation, opportunity creation, demo/trial conversion, closing, order processing, account management, and so forth.

We call it “a process,” which is pretty accurate considering the striking similarities to a production line at a car manufacturing plant, where robots make sure all cars look 100 percent the same.


What tools did we deploy to help our clients and facilitate the role sales plays? 

So what happened to the sales professional in the field? Well, most of us still tap out a couple hundred emails a day on our smartphone while accumulating frequent-flyer points traveling to a client to deliver an in-person death-by-PowerPoint experience. Or if the client’s lucky, we just drown him or her in white papers.

SaaS created a demand for NEW sales tools.

Fast forward to SaaS solutions. With its lower ASP, traditional selling simply became too expensive. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of small companies needed a new class of tools that could help them make transactional sales at a fraction of the cost (no travel), at a higher quality (engaging), and 24/7 (online).

After a couple of years, these tools have matured, and together with key developments that make them compatible with the iPad, they are now ready for deployment in the more complex B2B sale. The one who masters new tools first wins first.

New tools are externally focused on client experience.

It is important to recognize that, unlike CRM tools, the new marketing and Sales 2.0 tools were not built or designed to fill the requirements of a few large corporations. Instead, they were born to fill the needs of hundreds of small, often start-up companies. Most of the smaller companies flourish as they lack irrelevant processes and focus on the client.

These businesses live and die by a great and personal client experience. The very same tools that SaaS companies have used to scale their success are now changing the way we do business. Not only are the solution and consultative sale impacted, but the strategic sale is impacted also. Below is an overview of the tools I’m using these days, and I’ve separated them into categories.

1. Infrastructure 

  • iPad mini in a Moko case is my preferred “delivery” tool and “consumption” device. For content creation I use a Mac to develop engaging content that wows clients.
  • Because I move back forth between devices, I need everything to be in the Cloud, allowing me to instantly share with my clients.
  • I use an iPhone with an additional PhoneSuit battery pack with service through Verizon, because I need a hotspot to connect into my AppleTV. I never depend on clients' networks.
  • I also use AppleTV connected through HDMI to a projector or TV. I use the screen sharing to show Websites and apps and to play YouTube videos.
  • SalesOpShop is my network place to exchange ideas and learn from others.
  • I really appreciate SFDC and love Chatter. My main issue is with how it is deployed by most companies.  You can file that under "Using a Ferrari as a Lawnmower."


2. Social-Media Tools That Provide Scalability 

◦ I use SlideShare to present business ideas and share points of view.

◦ I like InMail for contextual cold calls andleveraging shared connections.

◦ I distribute a personalized newsletter relevant to my market (technology within media and entertainment).

◦ I use Twitter as a newsletter and feed with approximately three messages per day. In the morning, I prefer to send out stats; in the afternoon,I like to send out photos; and at night,my tweets are of a social nature.

◦ I use TweetDeck on my PC and HootSuite on my iPad to monitor for content that may be of use to my clients.

◦ BufferApp loaded on all my devices and in my browsers serves as a workflow system for my status updates and tweets.

  • I have a WordPress blog that serves as my FAQ resource and provides a reference site for my clients.
  • I use YouTube for relevant videos. Sometimes a little “kapow” can change a block of text.
  • Pinterest – I’m still figuring things out on this, but I do love it.
  • I use Google+ to share very specific information targeting the engineer.
  • And yes, I disconnected from Facebook (which goes beyond the scope of this post).

3. Other Cloud Tools

  • Evernote is my notebook. I never thought I would use it so much.
  • is my public file-sharing system. I can then upload docs and share them in a Twitter feed or LinkedIn update.
  • I use abunch of Google tools (e.g., Google Voice and Google Docs).

4. Content-Creation Tools

  • I use Prezi for remote whiteboard sessions and creating super-engaging content.
  • SlideRocketis my tool for holding virtual Webinars and tracking viewer stats in detail.
  • I use WeVideo to create simple online videosand Apple iMovie for more complicated ones.
  • I still use PowerPoint but drastically less. It is more of an API to other platforms.
  • I license my visual artwork via iStockphoto.


5. Communication Tools

  • I use for instant online meetings, and it allows me to very easily share my desktop.
  • I use Skype on all my devices for multiparty, international video conferencing.
  • I’ve also started to use VSee. It' superior in many respects, such as in high-definition multisource recording.
  • Google Voice is my screening service.

What tools are you using, why did you choose them, and what do they do really well for you?

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The Sales-Performance Puzzle: How to Solve It

This is the month in which many sales organizations are busy with the Big Sales Kickoff. As the sales leader, you orchestrate a fast-paced show delivered by your company’s best platform talent. The CEO’s keynote is inspirational, the CMO’s presentation is aspirational, the product manager’s demo rocks, and your keynote is densely packed with bold and optimistic predictions and tough challenges. As the sales leader, you are the merchant of hope, and your salespeople are swallowing your message hook, line, and sinker.

But after the team heads for the airport, you may be left with a nagging question: what impact will this kickoff have on your sales numbers? Here is my guess:

1. Retention of information

Twenty percent of your salespeople will absorb 80 percent of the content and then use half of it with customers. Eighty percent of your salespeople will absorb 20 percent of the content and use one-third of it with customers.

2. Impact on motivation

Eighty percent of your salespeople will feel recharged and optimistic about the company and their future, and 20 percent will continue shopping for better opportunities.

3. Acquisition of selling skills

Ninety percent of your salespeople listened to some of the selling skills you shared during the kickoff meeting, but fewer than 10 percent will try to apply the new skills, and after experiencing some failure they’ll revert to their old behavior.

If you don’t believe my guesstimates, consider the solid numbers uncovered by ES Research: according to ES Research’s sales-training surveys, between 85 and 90 percent of sales training has no impact after 120 days. Of the $5 billion US companies spend yearly on sales training, more than $4.25 billion are wasted.

Last week I interviewed John Doerr, a sales-training expert. John is co-president at RAIN Group. I edited the one-hour interview to the most essential nine minutes, and I highly recommend that you watch them, since he shares uncommon insight into solving the sales-performance puzzle.

If you are short on time, you can skip to the end, where I summarized the key points in a few PPT slides (that you can download from our new Website, To watch the video, click on the image below.

Please feel free to comment below, or tweet your questions using #salesopchat.

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