Lift (...by Seiko)

TIM HOULIHAN

Sales managers are a rare breed. Most organizations employ one sales manager for every six to 10 sales reps. Making it to the sales management ranks indicates you occupy a spot that roughly 90% of your peers have not. Congratulations.


 

Tim Houlihan

At the end of each episode in the 1980s cartoon series featuring G.I. Joe, our hero would explain the moral to the story and remind the viewers, “And now you know, kids, and knowing is half the battle.”



 
Tim Houlihan

In a 2018 survey, Bain & Company discovered that 80 percent of companies believe their customer experience is not only better than average, it’s “superior.” The trouble is that in the same survey, only 8 percent of customers believed they were receiving a superior experience.



 
Tim Houlihan

Do you avoid team incentives because you are worried about being fair? Are you concerned about rewarding free riders when only a few strong dogs pull the sled?



 

Maybe we’ve met. Was it was at a trade show or a conference? You said you’ve built a lot of sales incentive programs as a manager, and, not to toot your own horn, but they have worked pretty darn well.



 

This month, Lift takes a Q&A approach to reflect some recent, real-world conversations about incentive budgets.

The foremost budget issue is this: incentives are self-funding. Incentives are not an expense. If they look like an expense, sharpen your pencil, measure them properly, and build a compelling ROI.



 

In an article written a few years ago, Michael Jordan, one of the greatest athletes of all time, listed 10 rules for maximizing competitiveness. Unsurprisingly, focus was numero uno. In Jordan’s mind, nothing was more important than focus.

Without focus, nothing gets done.

 



 

Recently, I met Robert Cialdini at a conference and told him, “Your work has positively impacted my consulting business. Thank you.” He smiled as if it were the first compliment he’d ever heard. “Thank you,” he said and opened up a conversation asking, “What do you do?” We talked for 20 minutes. I doubt that conversation would have happened at a book-signing event or in a security line at the airport. What made it work was the situation.



 
Tim Houlihan

Is HR telling you your millennial sales reps don’t like their incentive plans? Are you really going to have a different incentive for the 26-year-old white female than the one for the 45-year-old Asian male?

Fact: Reps are complex and the psychological underpinnings that lead them to engage change over time and under different situations. Your salesforce is diverse, but...



 
Tim Houlihan

Dispensing with sales manager myths

What’s your sales manager mythology?

In a recent conversation with a sales vice president, he noted that leadership is not about being engaged, it’s about the willingness to take risks. He was talking about his sales managers.



 
Houlihan

When it comes to practice, my mind reverberates with a few key quotes. Vince Lombardi, possibly the greatest coach in football history said, “Only perfect practice makes perfect.” But how can I practice perfectly in an imperfect world? His words, as profound as they are, have draped like an albatross around my neck for years. Perfection is difficult to see. Excellence is another story —  I can see my way to excellence. Perfection? Not so much.