Sales Representatives: Responding to REWARD POWER

At Limitless Minds, a small startup company, there are only four full time employees, the other employees are “on contract”, meaning that they have been hired for specific projects and if they complete these projects, they will earn money for them. This type of hiring reflects reward power from their bosses, the CEO’s of the company. Reward power, according to Raven’s Social Influence and Power, results from the ability of the agent to mediate rewards. If the contracted employee succeeds at their task, they are paid (the reward) by their boss (the agent), and if they do not complete their task, no loss is suffered. 

I have worked most closely with the contracted sales representative, and have experienced first hand the pros and cons of this type of power structure. On one hand, the company does not lose anything if the individual is not performing and they are able to reach out to more companies/spread the word about business more than they would without a contracted sales representative. However, because the employee is hired on contract, the executives at Limitless Minds cannot tell him how to get the job done and the sales representative does not get a full insight on everything going on at the company.

These two factors have posed a few problems for the company. Initially, I noticed the lags in communication when the sales representative, Ryan, was unaware of what we as interns were working on. This was not part of his job description, and thus he did not get access to the list of projects we were working on or our completed projects. I was unaware of this in the beginning, and he would ask me information about what I was doing, knowingly attempting to get more insight on the company. Additionally, I can tell that Harry and DJ, the President and COO of Limitless Minds who handle 90% of all of our sales, are dissatisfied with the way that Ryan performs as a sales representative, including the companies and individuals he spends his time working on. Unfortunately, because Ryan is only contracted, they have no say over how he does his job or which contacts he chooses to spend his time on, he is merely rewarded for the work and companies with whom he creates contracts.

I believe that the company is frustrated with Ryan’s efforts, as he has yet to create a contract with any accounts he has reached out to. I believe that the executives at my company wished that he performed his work differently and focused only on companies that would work well with Limitless Minds. I also believe that Ryan is dissatisfied with the information shared with him, and this is why he tried to get more information out of me. I believe that in this case, the reward power relationship between Ryan and his bosses is not working. If the company streamlined the sales process and provided more detailed guidelines for Ryan and future sales representatives to follow, I believe that the sales representatives will produce higher turn out and thus be rewarded with pay and the executives will be happy that Limitless Minds has new accounts. After noticing this dynamic, I have taken it upon myself to develop a streamlined sales process outlining all of the details and guidelines I believe Harry and DJ would like representatives to follow as well as information that will help the company stay organized and analyze the effectiveness of each account.