When I ran the Clinic for Professional Services Leadership at the OSU Fisher College of Business, I learned a valuable lesson about money as a motivator. It doesn’t work. At least not always as you would think. I started the Clinic with the intention of making it financially lucrative for the students. But what we learned along the way was that by compensating the students we inadvertently made the whole thing about money for some of them.
When the rancor over the fee sharing arrangement became too distracting we reviewed the process and looked for a better idea. After a generous 2 hour interview with Jon Woods, then Director of the OSU Marching Band, I proposed we use the marching band model. That is, zero emphasis on money, either now during the clinic program, or in the future. Instead, the focus was on what you could become and the progress you could make in improving your resume while you were there in the MBA program.
This proved to be a tremendous success and pretty much eliminated kvetching about compensation.
I can hear you asking, “Cute story about students and all, but what does this have to do with sales?” A lot as it turns out. Recent university research has shown that there is an increasing portion of sales talent, effective talent, not the poor performers, who are more intrinsically motivated. They actually get more out of contributing to a successful team or making an impact than running up the score so-to-speak in pure dollar terms. This is NOT the same as saying compensation doesn’t matter. What it does say though, is that your sales compensation and motivation approach may need to be more sophisticated than just throwing cash at the strong players. In fact, the good news is, getting high performance out of your sales team does not necessarily mean paying more.
If this topic interests you, we will be discussing sales on June 22, 2012 in the GBQ Redbank Profitable Growth Executive Breakfast Series. Click here for details and registration.