The risks of your sales force not understanding, accepting or adopting a new sales compensation plan or platform are high and can negatively impact sales performance. In my experience, sales organizations often overlook one or more of the essential elements of compensation plan adoption. Here are some tips to make sure the sales force accepts and is engaged with the new plan.
There are multiple factors at play when it comes to plan acceptance but communication should overlap everything you do. Communication increases knowledge and creates greater willingness to accept the sales comp plan.
- Describe what the new plan is. This is fairly easy to communicate and most organizations get it right.
- Explain why you have made the changes. What might be obvious from a strategy standpoint is probably not as apparent to the sales force. Going over the motivation behind the changes goes a long way towards improving plan acceptance.
- Be transparent about how you do it. Share how you went through the design process and involve them in it. It’s a great way to create champions who will advocate the plan for you.
Along with communication comes engagement. Make sure sales reps are motivated by actively engaging them in the process, both in the planning and implementation stages. Ask for feedback, listen to suggestions, and show them when their ideas are adopted.
What usually gets neglected and can significantly increase plan adoption is branding. Brand the new compensation program to give stakeholders a simple way to refer to it. Once you create brand awareness, you can leverage it in all updates. The identity of the program can expand beyond Sales Ops to HR and Marketing. They too can use the program brand to make their communications smoother.
Besides proper communication, engagement, and branding, there are tools you can use to increase plan adoption:
- Plan calculators help reps see how much they can make under the new plan.
- Road maps describe how to use the plan to their best advantage. Providing this is essential to keep motivation high and make reps feel like they are part of a team effort.
- Training plans are a must, but be careful to think them over in advance – they should not be an afterthought.
- Post-launch feedback gets missed a lot, but is critical. Hear what reps have to say, without necessarily getting lost in the feedback. You don’t have to react to all suggestions, though you will certainly find some of them useful.
If you would like to find out more, I go into further details in the “Tips for Increasing Sales Force Engagement and Adoption of New Sales Compensation Plans and Platforms” webinar available on demand.