Abolishing salaries to jump-start sales may seem extreme, but Billy Ross credits just such a move with helping to turnaround Super 1, his $14 million recreational-vehicle (RV) dealership near Atlanta. When his salespeople were turningin subpar performances - closing a sale for only one out of every 200 customers who walked on the lot - Ross replacedtheir $250 weekly salary with a compensation plan that he hoped would promote more proactive selling. Salespeoplenow earn $10 cash for each customer whose information they capture (including, for example, name, address, andphone number), and $25 when a customer submits a written offer for an RV. Ross caps the total incentive package at$300 per week, but he also pays salespeople a hefty 20% commission on any RVs sold. All customer info goes into adatabase for follow-up calls and mailings.
Ross says most customers don't mind divulging their vital statistics, but if someone is reluctant, he encourages hissalespeople to tell them about the $10 incentive. "Customers don't mind as much when they know they're helping thesalesperson earn a weekly paycheck," he says. In the week after the initial contact, salespeople follow up with amiable"just-checking-to-see-if-you're-still-looking" calls, which Ross says are responsible for more than half the dealership'sRV sales. And, he adds, the incentives have helped increase his closing percentage from .5% to 10% in one year. Butmost important, the incentives work. It's rare that someone doesn't nail the $300 cap, and sales-staff turnover has beenzero in the past year.