In companies around the world, people are celebrating. That huge account the entire company has been working on has finally closed. But amid the celebration, one person is not smiling. He or she has to figure out who gets sales credit for the deal, and how that credit should be split. (That unhappy person might be you.)
In a global marketplace with sophisticated buyers and complex purchasing processes, engaging customers effectively requires multiples: multiple products and services as part of a solution, multiple sales and support roles to provide the solution expertise, and multiple global selling and pull-through points to deliver the value proposition.
These multiples make global and complex sales possible. They can also make it feel nearly impossible to develop fair and motivating sales crediting and split methodologies.
How Should We Allocate Credit?
Most organizations have a predetermined formula to split sales credit, often based on the customer’s decision point or the expected contribution of each role in closing the sale.
These approaches succeed to varying degrees, but the split should be based on each sales role’s actual level of effort, influence, and the management of key phases of the defined selling and delivery process, not on what was expected.
This type of approach is flexible and fair, and basing credit on the actual level of effort and influence is also inclusive and motivates everyone involved in a sale.
How Much Credit Should We Give?
Organizations must also decide, will we split credit in a zero-sum environment, or will we duplicate credit, giving full sales credit to multiple eligible sales participants?
For example, when a global account manager (GAM) coordinates multiple product salespeople who deliver a solution, the GAM often receives full credit while the salespeople share additional credit, split on the ratio of respective product sales. If the sale requires the GAM to collaborate with another GAM, credit would be shared based on their individual levels of effort and influence.
The best approach for any organization depends on its sales environment and selling and delivery process. Consider the case of a software company I worked with that had a consistent set of fixed splits. The primary salesperson received 70% credit, and the remaining 30% was split evenly among the other sales participants.
The fixed splits worked in most cases, but not always, and requests for exceptions escalated. In response, the company established a variable credit-split process to assess the relative contribution and percentage split for every deal.
The new process ensured appropriate splits but was an administrative nightmare. Worse, salespeople were politicking with superiors and fighting for credit instead of earning it.
Ultimately, the company designed standard splits to address most deals, and a review committee for exceptions. Engaging cross-functional leadership ensured fairness, deterred overuse, maintained collaboration, and gave insight into future split needs.
Learning to Share
Sharing means balance. Successfully walking the line between consistency and fairness, or between ease of implementation and precision for outcomes, requires clarity, transparency and consistent application of the rules.
When done right, salespeople can move beyond worrying about what’s mine and what’s yours to a place where they learn to play nice, take turns and find themselves celebrating big wins—together.