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Perceptions of Pay and Prestige: Obstacles to Sales Realignment

Perceptions of Pay and Prestige

Perceptions of Pay and Prestige: Obstacles to Sales Realignment

Brian Gardner No Comment

Recently, I worked with a client to analyze the alignment of their sales force. Using 4-D account profiling (learn about that profiling technique here), we discovered that many of the accounts visited by the client’s hunters – reps aggressively seeking new business – had small current volume and very little potential for growth. This kind of misalignment isn’t good for anyone; the client’s outside sales reps have a hard time growing these accounts, and the company itself is wasting money by putting time and attention into them.

This discovery presented an opportunity to treat these accounts differently, scaling back in-person visits that weren’t benefiting the customer or the client. But it also presented a new challenge – that of figuring out the logistics of this sales force realignment. You can’t just take those accounts away from outside sales reps and give them to inside sales reps – outside reps’ pay would be affected, and it’s unlikely that the client’s small sales team could handle the added load while keeping customer service quality high.

This is an increasingly common conundrum. Back when I worked as a sales manager, our company had roughly two outside reps to every inside rep. With the decreasing need for a field sales visits in today’s increasingly buyer-controlled sales environment, it would almost make sense to flip this ratio. But how do you support this strategy from a human resources perspective? Traditionally, field sales has been viewed as a prestigious position, a step up from inside sales. Pay differences between inside and outside sales have supported this view.

Given that, how can you decrease the number of outside reps you have and increase the number of inside reps? In some cases, the personality of the outside rep might make them a better fit for an inside role. Generally, though, outside reps are likely to view a move to inside sales as a demotion into a lower-paying position. Increasing compensation for inside reps may help draw more interest to inside roles – from within the current employee pool and from new potentials – but that would only be part of the solution.

What we need is a paradigm shift in the way we view the inside sales role. Until it’s viewed with the same level of prestige as outside sales, filling those seats with the right employees will be an uphill battle.

Has your company or someone you know found an innovative way to tackle this challenge? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at brian.gardner@salesprocess360.com  or message me on LinkedIn to start a conversation.

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