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An Outdated Sales Comp Plan: Bad for Businesses… and Careers


With just a few short weeks remaining in year, most sales VPs/CEOs are pressing teams to hit annual numbers. Some may even be borrowing advice from the experts on how to close the year strong. This is fine and good from a short game perspective, but what about next year?

In our view, November isn’t just the home stretch of your current sales agenda; it’s also prime planning season for next year’s sales performance. It’s a time to evaluate what’s not working, define an alternative strategy, and design a sales comp plan to drive that strategy—so your team can start strong out of the gate, on January first.

Are you in the process of analyzing and redesigning your sales comp plan now? If your current sales figures are anything less than off the charts, you should be… Because doing the same old thing and expecting a different result isn’t just the oft-quoted definition of insanity; it’s also a primary reason why company leaders get fired…

That’s right. According to a LeadershipIQ survey, CEOs don’t usually get pushed out the door for subpar numbers, but for “soft” leadership, in terms of addressing those numbers. Executives from organizations that had recently dismissed a chief officer gave the following explanations:

•Tolerating low performers—27%

•Denying reality—23%

•Too much talk and not enough action—22%

Now, maybe you’re not in a position to get fired. Maybe you own the company. Maybe there is no Board of Directors. Or maybe you are, in fact, simply crushing your job in most other respects. We still think these responses are worth noting, because they point to the kinds of failures that frustrate the people around you. And when your teams are frustrated, you’re not doing your business or your career any favors.

By taking a strategic approach to sales compensation, you can address underperformance head on—and pay for actual performance in your sales department. You can deal in reality, instead of continuing to manage compensation on spreadsheets, which creates a boatload of risks and inefficiencies, in addition to collaboration/scalability/accuracy challenges.

So if you missed your 2018 target, it’s not too late to evaluate your sales compensation plan, and uncover why it failed to drive the performance you expected. With the right tool and just a few weeks’ time, you can be in a position to make highly-informed, data-driven changes. Want to see how?

…Or you could find yourself dealing with the exact same issues next year. And, well, that’s just plain crazy.