In-house telemarketing, a solid source of qualified leads and sales, can also become a battlefield for phone and field salespeople. "Lots of cannibalizing of sales," says Rudy Schlacher of the infighting that once divided his eight in-house telemarketers and 16 independent field sales reps at Washburn International, a $44-million guitar maker in Vernon Hills, Ill.
How do you get field and phone reps to work in harmony? Below are two simple compensation plans that effectively tackle the problem:
* Tying pay to companywide results. Salespeople don't earn commissions on individual sales at Cabletron Systems, a Rochester, N.H., computer-cable seller. Instead, 50% of their quarterly bonus is based on regional sales goals and 50% on the company's overall sales goals. The 133 inside salespeople use the phones to qualify leads, close sales, and make appointments for the 125 outside salespeople, who service Cabletron's biggest accounts. The bonus encourages salespeople to pass on information to other departments and to dig up leads outside their regions, says sales director Jack Branowski.
* Rewarding collective efforts. Under Washburn's old system, phone reps received a commission of 1% to 1.5% only on the instruments they sold. As the guitar industry changed (shorter sales cycles, more phone-in orders from music stores), the telemarketers played a more pivotal role in helping the field salespeople maintain old accounts and open new ones. So Schlacher now pays the phone reps an extra .75% commission on field sales made in their territory; the outside salespeople still get a commission of 6% to 8%, freeing them to focus on introducing new products and holding in-store clinics.
The added cost of Washburn's revised commission plan is a small percentage of the increased sales reaped since making the change, three years ago. "The salespeople aren't fighting anymore," says Schlacher. "There's real teamwork."
-- Susan Greco and Phaedra Hise