Culture, not commission: What motivates sales teams at 3 Chicago tech companies

by Alton Zenon III
April 16, 2019

Commission is nice, but money isn’t everything. For salespeople, there has to be more than mere financial incentives to push them to the edge of their abilities and, most importantly, for them to actually want to improve. Sales leaders work to keep their teams engaged in as many ways as they can — because they know what their teams are capable of.

We heard from sales and revenue leaders at three Chicago tech companies to learn more about the specific methodologies they use to keep their teams operating at peak performance and what differentiates them from other sales teams. 

 

TransUnion sales team at formal event
PHOTO VIA TRANSUNION

TransUnion is a financial solutions provider that offers individuals and organizations tools that include credit reporting, debt recovery, data breach services and many more. Senior Vice President of Financial Services Geoff Hakel said the various outlooks, experience levels and diversity of backgrounds makes his team special. 

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

I think the key to motivating your team is to first identify a common goal and co-create a vision of what success looks like. You must also instill trust in yourself as a leader and within the team. Lastly, you must clearly define roles and provide the support required to achieve success. 

I believe that by giving the team an opportunity to participate in the creation of the vision, you get a much higher level of engagement and a sense of ownership.
 

Everyone on my team brings a unique perspective to the table, and that helps us think outside the box to tackle the biggest challenges our clients face.”


What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

It’s the diversity — the combination of some longer tenured associates with some newer hires, and financial services industry experience combined with in-depth company knowledge. Everyone on my team brings a unique perspective to the table, and that helps us think outside the box to tackle the biggest challenges our clients face. Our team is tight-knit and genuinely supportive of each other — they root for each other and applaud their successes.

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FourKites sales team in group photo
PHOTO VIA FOURKITES

FourKites is an end-to-end supply chain platform whose tools give companies real-time visibility into their global logistics. Chief Revenue Officer Steve Bachert said his team members stay engaged by being given control of their career arcs as soon as they’re onboarded.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

We practice ‘extreme ownership,’ which means we give team members the ability to take initiative and own aspects of their roles and their career trajectory. From day one, we give our team the tools to do their jobs well and provide the support that will best position them for their next step within the company. We have open and honest conversations where they share what they want out of their career, and we work together to help them get there.

We also encourage all team members to take initiative, think outside the box, and approach the executive team with ideas, areas for improvement and actionable solutions. We take those suggestions to heart and are open to incorporating them into our overarching sales strategy. Great ideas come from creative and curious people that are given the latitude to present new and better ways for us to grow.
 

We give our team the tools to do their job well and provide the support that will best position them for their next step within the company.”


What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

I think one of the most distinguishing qualities of our team is that they are the most motivated salespeople I’ve ever worked with. This comes from a collective feeling that each team member’s individual success has a tangible and direct impact on the company as a whole. Our salespeople are engaging deeply with prospects and customers, taking their needs to heart, and using their feedback to better position our value and sales strategy. Our team has a deep appreciation of customers as the tip of the spear and as the vehicle that helps drive sales and product development. Lastly, we foster a fun environment where successes across all parts of the organization are celebrated, and we share in each others’ growth and excitement. 

 

GTreasury sales team in group photo
PHOTO VIA GTREASURY

GTreasury offers digital treasurers SaaS and risk management solutions they can leverage to make impactful business decisions. Director of Demand Generation Paul Tubalinal said a sense of responsibility is something that not only motivates his team to succeed but also helps him to be a better leader in the process.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

I believe in giving specific and detailed guidance when it comes to executing a strategy or a tactic. Clearly defining things holds managers accountable to understanding things beyond just the surface level, and I think that resonates with those you ask to execute on your guidance. I also see a leader’s guidance as a starting point — but not the only path to achieving successful outcomes. Leaders should rely on those that are practicing what we teach for feedback and treat them as equal stakeholders. This ensures that the strategies that are developed can be constantly improved upon.
 

Leaders should rely on those that are practicing what we teach on a daily for feedback and treat them as equal stakeholders.”


What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

Business development is unique — it interacts with many aspects of a pre-sales process and, because of that, it requires strong collaboration. What I love about this team is how well it works with our marketing, sales and solutions consulting teams to deliver results. The business development team understands that they are often the first bridge to organizations that may have a need for our solutions and internal departments, and they take this responsibility very seriously. 

 

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