Motivating a Superstar

A client asks, “We are almost halfway through our fiscal year and the superstar on my sales staff will easily reach her quota by October. How do I keep her motivated through November and December? How much should I increase her quota for next year?"

It’s great that you have such a motivated producer on your staff and that you are asking this question now rather than in November. Some companies include accelerators (multipliers that reward above quota performances) as part of their compensation plan. If your plan is light on incentives after a sales representative reaches quota, here are some things to try.

Set a Mini-quota

Set a mini-quota for the last two months of the fiscal year. Then structure a two month bonus plan that is similar to, but more generous than, your current compensation plan. Remember, your sales representative is producing over and above for you, so do the same for them.

Mix Things Up

Superstars get into a comfort zone just like every one else, so use this special window of time wisely. Is there is a market segment that you would like to do more business in? If so, you could stipulate that for the purposes of the two-month bonus plan, 10% of the sales or at least two accounts must be new customers from that specific market segment.

Telling the Superstar

Timing is everything when it comes to telling your superstar about this contest. Announce it too soon and they may hold back orders. Wait too long and they may have already become demotivated. Meet with them in early October and tell them that as soon as they achieve their annual goal, the new program will begin. They will be motivated to get all outstanding business in as soon as possible to get started on the new incentive.

Telling Your Sales Staff

The other sales representatives will hear about this program sooner or later. So when they ask about it - and they will - tell them that if they achieve their annual goal before the end of November, you will gladly design a special incentive for them in December.

Raising Quota

If your superstar blew through their quota, they may be concerned about their annual goal being increased dramatically for the coming year. Be candid when you discuss this subject with them. Maybe you did set the bar a little low this time. Or maybe you set their quota accurately and market conditions changed rapidly. Whatever the situation is, try and give them a realistic picture of what next year will look like for them and give valid reasons as to why. In addition, consider building accelerators for above-quota achievement into next year’s commission plan.

Recognizing that your superstar salesperson needs some extra motivation and designing a compensation plan with their needs in mind will pay big dividends for both of you and the company too. Everyone is a winner.

Though my clients come from many different industries, the challenges they face are similar. In "Sales Management Tips," I regularly answer questions that have been posed to me by my clients. I hope the answers will help you to solve some of the sales dilemmas you face in your own sales organizations. If you would like to ask a question, please contact me. The identity and affiliation of those submitting questions will be kept confidential.