Why Checklists Are Critical for Pilots, Surgeons – and Sales Comp Administrators

Posted by Steve Marley on Tue, Aug 06, 2013


Stephen Colbert reminded me the other night about the power of checklists. His guest on The Colbert Report was surgeon Atul Gawande, who  wrote a book called The Checklist Manifesto in 2009. The book has become a go-to guide of mine for sales compensation operations. 


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Chasing Trains or Money: Why Cash Isn’t the Sole Motivator

Posted by Steve Marley on Thu, Jun 06, 2013

I was walking briskly toward the station the other week, knowing my incoming train was fast approaching (I love GPS tracking!). I looked down and saw a quarter on the ground, and I kept walking. My right brain — the emotional side — gasped, “What are you doing? Why didn’t you pick it up?” My left brain — the rational, logical part — replied, “It’s not worth the time to stop and pick it up if you miss your train!”

Twenty-five cents did not sufficiently motivate me to stop walking, bend down, pick it up and put it in my pocket. My time, and the opportunity cost of missing the train, was worth more than that amount. But my brain instantly kicked into "compensation mode": How much money would I need to find to make me stop? How much money would motivate me?


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Two Running Lessons That Put Your Quotas on Track

Posted by Steve Marley on Thu, Apr 25, 2013

Quotas. The term carries a negative connotation to some. Quotas can be a “black box” to a sales force, they lack the clear line of sight of commissions, and they can be a challenge to set equitably. While I agree with these challenges, quotas can have significant benefits when used at the right time in the right way. When I talk to companies about quotas, I love using analogies to describe their benefits. Two of my favorite analogies deal with running.


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What Your Salespeople Have in Common with Multimillionaire Athletes

Posted by Steve Marley on Tue, Mar 05, 2013

At the start of each sport’s season, we inevitably hear about one athlete or another involved in a "contract dispute."

He’s holding out for more money, looking to renegotiate a signed agreement. In the past, when these situations arose, I remember thinking: How much money does he need? Twenty-million dollars over a four-year contract isn’t enough? He needs 21 million?

Professional sports are engrained in the culture of North America and, of course, elsewhere. With American football’s NFL Super Bowl in recent memory, the NBA basketball season in full swing, the NHL hockey season starting after a labor dispute and MLB baseball preparing for spring training, it’s open season for discussion of athlete salaries.

Many people think contract disputes demonstrate pure greed. My experience with sales compensation gives me a different perspective, however, as another explanation exists, one that ties back to the concept of fairness.


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How Sales Compensation Steers Your Business in the Right—or Wrong—Direction

Posted by Steve Marley on Wed, Feb 06, 2013

When I say "carrot," what’s the first word that comes to mind?

If you thought "stick," you're in the right place. (If you thought of beef stew, or feeding horses, or rabbits, I would still encourage you to read on.) Of course, you’re aware that “carrot and stick” is synonymous with rewards and punishments, and sales compensation is fundamentally a reward system.


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