Is Compensation The Biggest Motivator In Security Sales?

I often help clients build sales compensation plans, and feel that security sales people are a bit different than other industries when it comes to compensation. I don't mean to imply that commissions and upside are not important, but they don't seem to be as important.

... which makes me wonder if compensation is the biggest motivator in security sales? I've left this open for a manufacturer or integrator on purpose - I'd love to hear both sides.

Thank you in advance for your input.

[Vote in poll inside]


Poll added:

I'd be curious to see if any sales people come in here and state otherwise, because it's definitely my biggest motivator.

Disclaimer: Not a salesman

I think compensation is the biggest motivator for like 99% of salespeople. Or engineers. Or any professional. However, no one likes to admit this because it makes them feel shallow to frame it that way.

Maybe clergy, social workers, and some teachers are the exception... but everyone else largely adheres to "You want more? Pay me more."

For those voting compensation 'NOT the biggest motivator', what is?

Disclaimer: Brian demanded a $5 bonus for writing this comment....

Compensation is the number one driver for me. However I appreciate consistency and a return on my sales investment so to speak. I'd rather have smaller deals that are more consistent than larger deals that come and go quickly and sproadically. Having a good mix of both is the best. Having a commited customer you can invest in heavily with good returns is the ultimate situation for both rep and customer in my opinion. Having a one size fits all, social selling program doesn't work in the ultimate scenario. I drive everyday to increase compensation, lower risk, and maintain consistency. Compensation plans success rate is a function of the org's ability to deliver, the sales person's work ethic, & relationship skills in my opinion.

As a prior security integrator sales representative, sales commission did play a big role, but that was mainly due to the fact most companies only offer very low base saleries with a majority of your income coming from commissions. This obvisouly makes sense from their perspective because their goal is to drive sales and minimize overhead.

I think the bigger questions is "Do sales representives over sell or take advantage of a client because of the potential commission. I've always sold on one principal, Honesty. Provide a solution that addressess their needs, is sold at a fair price and clearly explains the options. Yes, your commission may be less, but you are developing a long term relations and a trust that usually yields more sales and commission in the long run.

Trust is a very hard thing to gain as a sales rep working on commission.

Disclaimer: Not a salesperson (but I used to be).

I got out of sales many years ago for one primary reason - compensation is not my primary motivator.

IMO, for salespeople to be 'successful' (at least in the eyes of direct supervisors and higher), this motivation must be present. If not the primary motivator, one of the strongest then.

I do like to think that when I was in sales, that I shared Undisclosed B's principles - build relationships on trust and after determining the customers real needs, sell them a solution that best fits those needs - not the most expensive choice simply because I would earn more commission.

As B alludes to, honesty and solutions-selling is going to produce more sales and commissions in the long run... so you can have compensation as your primary motivator without having to resort to pushing sales that aren't the best 'fit' for the customer just to get your numbers for the current cycle.

Both styles are motivated by compensation - the solutions seller for the long term, and the 'buy this today' seller for the immediate term. I think most would agree that the 'buy this today' seller will not last long without the trust that relationships bring to the mix.

The best salespeople (IMO), are motivated by both compensation and the real desire to make customers happy by providing valuable solutions.

A senior sales person recently noted:

"You spend the first half of your career building your network, You spend the second half of your career monetizing your network."

There's a lot of truth in that.

I think younger sales people should be less concerned about total immediate dollars than about building the connections, experiences and reputation that allows them to maximize revenue when they are in their prime. However, at some point, 5 years in or 10 years in, you shift focus to immediate compensation.

Years ago I read an interesting conclusion from a poll (I think Gallup conducted it, but not 100%). They concluded that the #1 reason people took new jobs was because of the money, but the #1 reason (by far) people wanted to leave their current job was because of their immediate supervisor. This poll was universal - it included dozens of professions including sales, but I think it still speaks to sales people.

My experience of observing and measuring hundreds of sales people has shown that they have the same core needs that everyone has - understanding their expectations, having the tools to succeed, healthy work environment without hostile people, appreciation, and yes... money.

I do think that compensation is the #1 reason most sales people chose the profession in the first place, but I really don't think it's their biggest motivator day to day. I think that most want to win and take care of their clients (not all, but probably 60% - 75%). I would not have thought that five years ago. However, since I started my business and have had a chance to work with hundreds of sales people rather than managing a dozen, I've seen a huge sample size. They're mostly very competitive people that really do care about their clients. They would probably choose a different profession if the compensation was less, but the money isn't the #1 thing that gets them out of bed.

For me, compensation is not the biggest motivator.

Other things come first.

One--I have to believe in the products/services I am selling and the company I am selling for.

For example, if I see a company filled with signs of instability that I cannot impact; I would not be selling for them. This can come from issues with ownership, management team, business practices, or a complete lack of strategy.

Likewise, if the product or service is not something I believe in, then I am not movitivated to sell it for any amount of compensation.

Selling as an Integrator, and even in distribution, salespeople make choices--and those choices are not always to sell the product line or service that provides them with the highest commission. If it is not a fit for the customer there is no integrity in shoe-horning it into the customer environment for the sake of 3% more in commission.

I am motivated to sell in this industry because it is the industry I love. There is a passion for the field. May sound crazy to some, yet that is why I stay.

Other factors that come before compensation for me include: a desire to provide my best possible advice to customers, beating out my competitors, the ability to have a level of freedom in reaching my sales goals (i.e. work environment, culture).

Having been a past sales manager I know of many good salespeople I worked with who were motivated more by opportunity for advancement, company benefits, mentoring, educational opportunities, and flexible schedules than they were by compensation.

Don't get me wrong, compensation is vital. I just have not seen it as the biggest motivator.