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We write for Forbes about valuing and prioritizing your sales team


In his latest column for Forbes, “Step Up To The Plate: It’s Time To Prioritize Salespeople In Your Organization”, Rep Data CEO Patrick Stokes likens recent changes to compensation models in the NCAA (athletes being paid for endorsements and other opportunities) to shifting models in the business world, specifically when it comes to sales professionals. He writes that it is time for businesses to rethink how they compensate sales people, prioritize the sales function and make the investment in premium talent.

There are several reasons why moves like these are important right now, including:

  • Talent shortage: Not only are unemployment rates very low, but fewer sales people are entering the workforce. Outdated hiring practices are exacerbating problems.
  • Under-compensated talent: As the primary revenue generators for any company, sales people need to receive proper compensation - especially in highly competitive industries. “If a company doesn’t compensate properly, that top salesperson will simply move on - they will get a better offer elsewhere. I’m seeing this happen more and more. Competition for sales people is fierce.”
  • Worth realization: Compounding the importance of proper compensation is the fact that top sales people are realizing their own value. Supply and demand are driving this reality as well - “sales people are hard to come by, and they are also essential in making a company successful. This drives up their value.”
  • No existing model: Just like the NCAA had outdated ways of allowing its athletes to benefit from their skills, so does the traditional sales compensation model. We need a new type of pay structure that fits the current ecosystem - something that “begs further examination by company leaders.”

Patrick goes on to write more about how Rep Data has navigated these waters with “heavy, ongoing investment in premium sales talent, offering not only the compensation and benefits, but also prioritizing a flexible work environment, inclusive culture, ongoing direct support from other company teams and similar initiatives.” And it has worked. Rep Data has continued to grow steadily since it was founded nearly two years ago, and client satisfaction remains extremely high.

He warns against focusing all leadership energy on other initiatives, such as product development, that may take energy away from a sales-forward approach. “The bottom line is that you can have all the innovations in the world, but if there is no revenue, there is no company.”

The article concludes with the statement that “Companies need to be ready to pivot and change their mindset about how they recruit and retain sales talent. Like the NCAA, we all need to work together to change the rules.