Reward and Recognition

Reward and Recognition. The big “R&R” of sales. As a sales manager and individual contributor for many years, I am very motivated by the prospect of being rewarded and recognized. I love getting my sales commissions; we all do. It’s the best possible barometer of our success. As important to me as commissions are, being recognized in front of my peers and my managers has had an equally intoxicating effect as the dollars in motivating me. Recognition for a sale or some other more objective contribution, like doing a good job training or motivating, is very powerful and motivating. It is like filling up the gas tank!

I want to make several points. First, as sales professionals I expect that we are motivated by the “R&R” of sales. For many of us and I would think most of us, it is part of the DNA that we are wired with. Good. That’s who we are and no excuses are necessary! I have seen reps be embarrassed by this fact. Don’t be! It’s what makes us run for the orders and to make it happen. It keeps us moving and closing. Don’t let others make you feel bad that you have earned the money you do or because some don’t understand what we go through to deliver the revenue. Sales is hard. The higher the risk, the higher the reward. Be proud that you can do this thing called “sales”.

Second, as sales managers we are expected to balance how much “R&R” we extend to the sales teams. This means different things to different people. I have always strongly believed that the right successes need to be celebrated as often as possible. If, for example, a normally successful rep is under plan and having a bad year and gets a large breakthrough order, this should be celebrated. Do you not recognize this order because the rep is having a bad year? Do you negate this because the overall number is still not obtained? That’s a business decision you have to make. I tend to err on the side of recognizing and dealing with business issues in parallel and sometimes in the background. Some have criticized me for this, but the result has always been a rep that has worked a little harder and felt better about themselves and their job. That is like money in the bank. I had a wonderful mentor who taught me that being passive aggressive with someone’s recognition is dangerous and is a “lose-lose” proposition. There are many ways to recognize people for a job well done: A thoughtful email or a phone call makes all the difference; ask your manager to call and just say “thank you”. The smallest things sometimes get the largest returns. I wish everyone could see that! Companies that have entrenched sales cultures and value the sales function understand this and the results show on the bottom line.

Thirdly, I believe that we have to look for as much as possible to recognize and celebrate, without having it lose effect or value. There must be a balance struck here: If you recognize every order every rep ever closes, then recognition becomes devalued. Here is the key: Make a proactive effort to celebrate the orders that mean something to the rep, the team or company. If the team as a whole is struggling, then recognizing a significant order or other contribution is motivating to the team and the peer pressure to produce increases. In short, it stinks to not hear your name called.

Finally, recognition is FREE. It costs nothing to do and the return is huge. If you are not recognizing enough, you will see the effects and if you are doing it to much you will also see the effect. Thoughtful and balanced recognition is the benchmark we all strive for. Fill up your sales reps’ tanks. You will get great mileage!

As always, let me know what you think…and Good Selling!

-Todd