What Are You Really Paying Salespeople To Do?

By Jim Cathcart

What are you paid to do?

Everywhere you go, people will ask, “What do you do?” They want to know how to think about you. Are you a resource, a potential friend, a competitor, a threat?

But, what they seldom ask is the more important question: “What are you paid to do?”

What’s the difference?

What you do may be accounting, but what you’re paid to do is give people more awareness of their money so they can take appropriate actions and make better financial decisions. If you’re a sales trainer, you are paid to help others become better salespeople. The training you do is simply a process designed to achieve that. You’re not really being paid to conduct training. Instead you’re being paid to increase salespeople’s confidence and skill so they’ll make more sales to the right people in the right ways. Outcomes, not processes.

Some over-simplify and say, “No, I’m paid to produce profits.” That’s only partially correct. Profits are earned in many ways – and all workers are, at least indirectly, tasked with doing profitable things. But profit is the byproduct of what you are actually paid to do. Doctors may earn a wonderful income from their medical practices, but they aren’t paid to generate revenue. They are paid for keeping people healthy – and that’s worth paying for!

Teachers aren’t paid for teaching classes. They are paid for producing knowledgeable and capable students.

At Cathcart Institute, Inc., we have used a simple and effective tool to help all our personnel remember why they are working here. It is called a “role agreement.” Instead of a “job description” that simply lists the tasks and categories of their work, we use the following format.

Role agreement for: (name of person)

  1. What you are paid to do. This is a description of outcomes and effects we want from this person – not a mere list of functions they perform. For example: the CEO’s executive assistant is paid to “make our CEO more effective.” If he’s focused on the highest value activities and not distracted by easily-delegated tasks, then he is more valuable to our clients and our corporation. The job is not doing correspondence or handling low-complexity tasks. Instead it is ensuring the chief executive is doing the optimum amount of chief executive work.

  2. Areas of your responsibility. A salesperson might say, “Since I’m in charge of making sales , I want to be in on the marketing decisions, new product decisions, strategic alliances, etc., because all of these affect sales.” But that’s a much greater role – executive level, not salesperson. So, we define the areas in which the person does have some authority (for example: target marketing, sales promotions, account prioritization, development of sales tools, refinement of existing sales processes, making sales contacts, or confirming purchases).

  3. Agreements and Expectations. “What you can expect from Cathcart Institute and what we expect from you.” This is where the specifics get stated.

Under “Your Expectations from Us”:

We start the list for them and then ask them to edit and expand it as desired.

  • You can expect: that you will be paid on time and in the amounts agreed.
  • That we will tell you the truth 100 percent of the time.
  • That you’ll be provided with the tools to do your job well.
  • That you will have access to our leaders whenever you need information or assistance.
  • That we will provide a healthy and pleasing work environment.
  • That you’ll be treated with dignity and respect, as a friend and member of our business family.
  • That you’ll have access to training and guidance in order to improve.

Under “Our Expectations from You”:

We state the obvious and not-so-obvious, then allow them to offer edits or deletions.

  • We expect: that you’ll show up to work on time, sober, and well groomed for this business environment.
  • That you’ll tell us the truth 100 percent of the time.
  • That you will continually improve at what you do, on your own initiative.
  • That you will respect our company and the privacy of our information.
  • That you will NEVER treat a customer or coworker disrespectfully.
  • That you will do your work without requiring extra reminders or motivation from others.

Each list is expanded in dialogue with the person so the final agreement can be signed with

confidence. If any of the must-have items are not agreeable, then we terminate the discussion and thank the person for their time.

You are welcome to use this format in your own organization. The reason this works is because it clarifies what each person does while emphasizing why it matters. I see bureaucrats as people who are more committed to process than outcome. Nobody needs to be a bureaucrat. The more we all emphasize the Why in our work, the more meaning we will find in it – and the more dignity we will feel while doing it. Let’s work together to make the world a better place for everyone.

Jim Cathcart is a long-time contributor to Selling Power and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. He is the original author of Relationship Selling plus 17 other books. Cathcart.com helps organizations increase sales engagement and self-motivation. Contact him at info@cathcart.com.

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
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