A playbook for sales teams with aspirations to grow

Whether you’re recently entered into a sales compensation role or if you need a sounding board to check your ideas, this webinar is for you. We’ll be discussing the EIGHT core skill sets to turn sales compensation into a game changer in your business.

  1. Setting a clear WHY for your sales comp plan
  2. Developing SMART measures of sales performance
  3. Designing SLEEK comp plans
  4. Modeling your plans using a MONTE CARLO simulator
  5. Setting REAL sales quotas and targets
  6. Communicating the compensation plan with INTENT
  7. Using the CLOUD to administer your program
  8. Using MONEY BALL style techniques to get ahead and stay ahead

Why write a playbook for sales compensation plans?

We know the benefits of pay for performance. A strong sales compensation program is a crucial driver of success for sales organizations with aspirations to grow.

But let’s call it out now. Sales compensation is a dry topic. It can be a little dull. Experienced practitioners can rarely get through any of the 500-page tombs on the topic. Meanwhile, executives who manage sales comp as just one of a portfolio of many duties don’t have the time or the headspace to dig in.

So, we have written this playbook as a quick “go-to guide” for executives and managers in sales, finance or HR in companies with more than 30 salespeople earning commissions.

If you are a dedicated Sales Comp exec at a fortune 500 company and you want the definitive how-to guide – this video may not be for you. But if you want some fresh perspectives and the crucial actions – the next hour or two of reading will be a good investment.

Background

The team at Performio has worked in-depth with companies on their sales compensation plans for the last decade. While most of our work is focused on the implementation side – we do get to see hundreds of different sales compensation plan designs across different industry verticals.

One theme that continues to challenge us in sales compensation is the “bespoke” approach to this business discipline. For a program that is a very large expense line and revenue driver on the P&L, it is interesting the extent to which companies will customize and frequently adjust all aspects of their compensation plans.

We observe that the levels of flexibility and innovation are usually driven by the pressure of the “upside” opportunity presented by Sales compensation. Most people appreciate that sales compensation can drive sales results – therefore it is designed and managed in a similar way to other marketing programs; continuous tinkering, campaigns and strategic reviews to drive better returns.

We also observe that sales compensation can become highly contentious – especially with increased levels of flexibility and innovation. The reason being that sales compensation significantly impacts the OKRs of not only the sales function but also the finance and HR areas of the business.

The theme of this video is to understand that powerful sales compensation programs must consciously straddle the differing objectives and result areas of these functions.

For example:

  • Sales will say they need the plan to be motivational and to drive sales.
  • Finance need a compensation plan that is manageable, reliable and predictable in controlling the expense line.
  • HR want a plan that supports the desired company culture and works as an effective retention and recruitment tool

Of course, a good CFO or VP of Sales or HR Director will wear all three hats in a comp planning discussion. The point is that the differing priorities demand different mindsets:

  • The sales mindset is “tactical” – eg. plan decision need to address local and immediate demands to ensure the right behaviors are being driven on all opportunities.
  • The finance mindset is “operational” – eg. plan decisions need to provide a reliable model for predicting and controlling compensation costs.
  • The people mindset is “soft” – eg. plan decisions need to consider impacts on culture within the sales organization, across the organization and even on external customers.

Note: we are not suggesting any of these approaches are more valid than the other. Just note that they are real.

The challenge for sales compensation managers is that everyone talks a big game on the need for reliable, scalable, “best practice” compensation plans. Plans that are an ideal fit for the needs of the business. But the concepts of repeatability, scalability and best practice can struggle to gain traction in areas that are “soft” or “tactical”.

For example, it’s great having a global plan policy talking about attainment % of OTE etc, but what does the Global VP of sales do when he has 15 person bid team working on the retention of the company’s largest account where failure to win will radically change the three-year business plan?

What to do?

Our goal for this video is to map out a game plan that starts with the operational mindset. We don’t describe an infinite universe of plan design options and considerations. We have detailed a menu of the best practice plan designs and the activities that can scale and be relied on to implement effective sales compensation plans in B2B sales organizations (and will work in many B2C sales channels).

Tempering this operational focus, we make recommendations and call out considerations for ensuring that your sales compensation plan can be:

  • used tactically by the sales function
  • an active and positive agent in driving the desired sales culture

Finally

We aim to keep it concise.

Sales compensation plans have a lot of moving parts and it can be overwhelming when you are designing and managing multiple sales compensation plans for a national sales organization with more than 30 people and growing.

Rather than write a sequential set of many chapters, we have consolidated our learnings into EIGHT stages. Each stage in the process demands a set of skills you need to develop (or get someone else from the team can execute the skill) and actions to complete.

And at each stage, you can build out your sales compensation plan playbook/matrix.

We hope that this video will provide you with a balanced awareness of the key stages to consider in your planning and implementation process.

Best wishes for your compensation plans and good selling.

David and the team at Performio

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