More Cash Doesn’t Always Mean More Calls

Today we talk about how Zach Barney uses non-monetary incentives to energize his team and keep the comp plan simple.

It’s no secret that salespeople, regardless of their role, are incentivized by commission cheques. But even the most high-performing, and well-compensated, sales professional needs an added boost from time to time.

But how to get that added boost can be a difficult question. One fun, and relatively easy, way is to start establishing a spiff program.

A spiff is an immediate reward, or bonus, offered in addition to your company’s normal compensation plan, in exchange for doing something outside of the expected activity level.

I recently spoke with Zach Barney, Director of Sales Development at Teem, about how he uses spiffs to energize his sales development reps.

In order to maintain high activity levels at the end of the month – when everyone is always intensely focused on closing – Zach runs spiffs to reward SDRs for extra high activity levels. Generally, that “extra-high” activity level equates to making X number of calls above the normal expectation.

But, spiffs aren’t just effective motivators at the end each month – they can also be used as as a reward for work done over the course of an entire quarter. For example, to maintain consistency throughout a quarter, if an SDR hits their expected activity levels for three weeks in a row, Zach will offer a reward not directly to his team’s existing compensation.

And that’s the critical point to remember – to institute a reward that is more than just extra money. Cash spiffs, in Zach’s experience, aren’t enough to increase activity levels. They just don’t move the needle. The most effective spiffs are actually rewards that bring the team immediate joy, laughter, or more intangible experiences such as having lunch with the CEO.

Over time, Zach and his team have run quite a few unique spiffs that have driven some stellar results. Just recently, he did 383 pushups to motivate his team to keep the call volume high at the end of the month. He did one pushup for every call his reps made with a purpose (no smiling and dialing, for instance). This spiff drove way better results than armchair quarterbacking his SDRs on their activity levels, or repeatedly asking them “why aren’t you making more calls?” They ended up with a record day for appointments set.

So, how does Zach come up ideas to keep it fresh?

Luckily, his team loves human suffering. They’re ready for another spiff anytime they can see Zach suffer in some way, shape or form.

For example, in order to maintain consistency with the qualified opportunities his team is booking, anybody that hit their targets for three weeks in a row got to smash a pie in Zach’s face. And Zach has one SDR that really knows how to smash pies – he started at Zach’s chin and ran it right up his face. Zach was smelling triple berry for three days.

And the result? Both morale and results increased for the entire month.

Also, spiffs are a great recruiting tool because Teem can now say, “if you want a boss that will let you smash pies in his face and does push ups when you do something good, then this is the place for you.”

It really is a way to differentiate their company from all the other startups out there. And, to keep things interesting, Zach is  always changing up the activities based on something he’s noticing at a particular time in their sales cycle to ensure spiffs remain a dynamic element in the office.

And, how does he compensate his team?

Sales development is a rare talent and should be compensated fairly. Teem offers a very competitive base pay, as well as two separate streams for commission.

The first is for qualified opportunities – they don’t let their SDRs just book anyone with a pulse. Their opportunities have to be qualified by the sales team or the opportunities won’t count towards the comp.

Teem also gives a commission kicker. They don’t want their SDRs setting million dollar deals and feeling like the Account Executive gets all the credit. They want everyone on our their sales squad to share in the glory and be motivated to continually go after those larger opportunities.

For more on Zach Barney, be sure to check out this edition of  The Predictable Revenue Podcast.



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