I was conferring with a reasonably successful manager in the Banker's Life system.
Within the space of a few minutes, he disclosed two things to me:
(1) He is doing everything possible to create a high-achievement culture; and
(2) He loves his moderate producers because they are steady and reliable.
Of course, as you might detect, these statements are contradictory.
As a sales manager or a business owner, you don't want to send mixed signals to your people.
Are you overtly asking for (1) but secretly hoping for (2)?
If so, your staff will sense this, and to say the least, they'll be confused.
Confused "soldiers" don't march with the same motivation, or in a predictable direction.
If you want a top-ranked sales team you need to create messages that are consistent and back them up with action. This means making life difficult, to put it delicately, for underachievers, while giving them whatever help and resources they reasonably require to soar with the eagles.
At the same time, you want to offer DISPROPORTIONATE GOODIES to your high fliers. I recommend a stair-stepped commission or bonus plan that isn't neatly incremental.
When you get to the top flights, you leap several steps in sales compensation at a time, leaving your more earthbound peers in the proverbial dust.
Two forms of motivation are required to make and sustain a championship teams: positive rewards for the winners, and negative reinforcement for the losers.
As General Patton said in the movie, "America loves a winner and simply won't tolerate a loser."
In an achievement culture moderate or average producers are losers. Don't tolerate them for long, unless you want to send a hopelessly mixed message!
Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 750 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered one of the world's foremost experts in telephone effectiveness, customer service, and sales development. A top-rated speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.