What’s the incentive?

By Jeremy Blake on November 28, 2019

I had an enquiry earlier this year from a growing organisation with 300 salespeople, they didn’t call them salespeople. They called them Customer Service people. Their job was to take incoming enquiries from consumers and sell them a one off service. They were converting enquiries at 25%.

The company were keen for us to train their people to increase the conversion rate.

When I asked about how they were paid, it was a salary and the opportunity to earn an extra one thousand pounds per annum, based on performance.

The service that they sell costs between £800 and £1,100.

What would you do to grow the sales of this business?

What seemed obvious to me would be a huge cultural change for them. We talked generally about incentives, and what could be done to induce them to sell more.

The word incentive is defined as either:

  1. a thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something.
  2. a payment or concession to stimulate greater output or investment.

Many service based teams focus on a host of a) like activities that include low cost prizes, forms of recognition and reward, confectionery and such prizes.

If you want to lift your conversion rate dramatically you have to have a certain skill set and a salary to match.

Payments to stimulate greater output might well give you the desired result.

If through training, someone grew their skills and sold the firm an extra 1 service a week, then over 40 working weeks they would bring in an additional £40,000 per annum. The firm could afford to pay them a percentage of that, one would think.

The other challenge is the people type and potentially the service. If we are consistent at 25% what could the uplift be with more people skills?
Or are the objections to the service ones that the service itself must address to get an uplift?

I used to flippantly believe that the halving of an underperforming team and the doubling of the salary of the higher performers that remained was all that was needed. However, in practise this often means a complete cultural change and a different type of recruitment and management behaviours and the whole board’s mentality.

As consumers continue to be more discerning, time poor and living in a buyers-market new work needs to be done on what will incentivize your people to improve.

This means really understanding what they require from work to support their lives. It is likely to be some of the things you know and understand and some things you hadn’t banked on.