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OMG Year-End!

What I’ve observed too often in businesses lately: The owners are pushing to close out the year strong, knowing what they most want sold, what can be delivered with optimum efficiency…and the inmates are running the asylum! 80% of the time, all year, the salespeople have been selling what is easiest for them to sell and what pays them well. Hey, they’re playing by the rules! Especially year-end, owners want something very different: the higher numbers, the all-inclusive sales to strategic accounts, immediate and long term earnings! Uh-ohh!

What’s the cautionary message? Even high-character salespeople are inherently selfishly motivated, ego-driven, often complacent, now potentially in holiday-season-mode, will continue selling what they want, what they’ve been told is okay by you, what’s easiest for them to sell, and what gets them paid best…in direct opposition to what the company wants sold, especially at year end, when the more we deviate from what we do best, the lower margins are produced, when all we want to do is max-out our numbers big-time at the crunch!

How does it happen? More importantly, what should we do about it?

How? Because salespeople can, because we oftentimes make it too easy for them to do the job that makes them the most money, but doesn’t best serve the company and its mission. We’re not reigning them in and directing their efforts toward the priorities we need achieved, and we’ve made it too easy for them to make big money, by the rules, but in a manner that almost guarantees the business’s needs aren’t provided for.

That’s the leader’s fault and the leader’s responsibility to get it fixed. When the inmates are running the asylum, it doesn’t go well for the institution. Let’s get the sales force to do our bidding, getting us what our company really needs, wants, and will pay for: mission-critical sales.

What to do right now? Tell your sales leaders what you need, ask for their help, reward them if they do, and jump in to help capture the accounts you need the most. For next year? Write a different compensation plan.

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