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Sales Staff Incentives

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Online sales people need to be more persevering than traditional media AEs because of the extreme peaks and valleys of the business.

Compensation is one way to help them through the valleys and boost their performance even higher during the peaks.

Management should consider two critical questions about a new hire. Is the AE experienced with online sales or not? Will the AE fill a strong existing desk of business, a weak one or a new one? The answers help determine the structure of the compensation for the early months on the job.

A new AE who has to develop a desk of business from scratch needs some kind of financial guarantee to stick with the job during the early months of development. The techniques include salary only, salary with bonus, salary with commission or draw against commission (guaranteed payout, sometimes even if the goals aren?t met).

Most AEs without previous online sales experience seem to need at least six months getting comfortable with client questions and objections. Experienced AEs of course need less.

Managers often believe that salary only is a poor option for any sales person, even when they are given months to settle into a new job. So an introductory phase of high salary and low commission, or salary and commission with draw, are options to consider for inexperienced AEs with weak or new desks. Salary with bonus or salary with commission are good choices for the experienced AE.

Once the desk is running well, other options include straight commission or commission with bonus. These options seem to work best with salespeople who are highly motivated, risk tolerant and willing to work extra hours. But these kinds of salespeople are rare.

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