Should you be paying your webmaster on commission?

Tying compensation to performance works in other sales functions, why not the most important one: your webmaster?

Should you be paying your webmaster on commission?

Tying compensation to performance works in other sales functions, why not the most important one: your webmaster?

It is the most fundamental equation in business:

Revenue – Expenses = Profit

We all understand that profit is the goal of any successful enterprise. Some of you reading this will naturally focus on controlling expenses. But it is a company’s ability to generate revenue, and the amount it can generate, that determines the extent of what that business can become. So what is the most important function in any business? The sales function.

Tying compensation to performance works in other sales functions, why not the sales position that is fast becoming the most important one in your organization: your webmaster?

In the sales culture, it is practically axiomatic: If you want to hire people who can sell, pay commission. People who know how to sell, know their worth; their value to your organization, is their ability to contribute meaningfully to your revenue. And, because they know they can generate that revenue, they’ll forgo the “security” of a salary. (Is there really such a thing as a secure salary?) Instead, they prefer a piece of the ever-increasing pie. It is they, after all, who are tasked with making the pie larger.

Your customers, both at the retail and wholesale level, are no longer waiting for your salesperson to call… More than 80% of people making purchases in your company’s price range are narrowing, or even finalizing, their choices via the Internet before setting foot in a single store.

Things are not quite so simple these days. The proliferation of a worldwide communications system, comprised of the Internet and its ubiquitous tentacles—smart phones, smart TVs, laptops, and tablets—has changed everything. Your customers, both at the retail and wholesale level, are no longer waiting for your salesperson to call. They are seeking out products and solutions on their own, gathering information, comparing offerings, weighing their options. More than 80% of people making purchases in your company’s price range are narrowing, or even finalizing, their choices via the Internet before setting foot in a single store. Where are you in this process? Does your company’s media presence reflect this new reality? Are you keeping up or falling farther and farther behind? Will you adapt to the new realities of the marketplace before it’s too late?

Of the more than 80% of people who are narrowing their choices (or making their choices) online, 80% of those are starting with a search engine query.

In other words, they are Googling terms like “preamplifier” and taking it from there. Go ahead, Google “preamplifier.” Did your company’s name show up in the first three pages, the only ones that matter? McIntosh’s, NAD’s, Naim’s, and Krell’s did.

Do you think that’s an accident? Or are they doing something you’re not? Do you know what that thing is? We do; we do it every day. We are fortunate enough to get paid to make our clients’ names more prominent to the 2/3 of all consumers who find what they are looking for through an Internet search. And that affects our clients’ top lines.

Your webmaster’s ability to attract—and to retain—the interest of the people who are searching for exactly what you offer makes them the most important member of your sales team.

Given that 4 out of 5 interested consumers will search the Internet first, your webmaster’s ability to attract—and to retain—the interest of the people who are searching for exactly what you offer makes them the most important member of your sales team. Like other sales staff, successful webmasters are hard to find; getting consumers to your website, and holding their interest, requires a rare combination of marketing, design, and analytical skills; it’s not a job you want to fill with just anyone.

If your webmaster can’t get the attention of these most motivated consumers, the ones who are searching for exactly what you offer, you’ll simply never make them into customers. Choose carefully. And in this area, as in any, you’ll get what you pay for.

So how do you compensate such an individual in an era where top webmasters have their pick of jobs? Consider using the same strategy you’d use with any sales professional: offer them a commission. As with any motivated sales staff, you might well find that your willingness to share a slice of the pie creates a powerful incentive for your most important salesperson, the person behind your website, to grow that pie in ways that only they can.