Make Sales Reps Fall in Love with the Compensation Plan (and Live Happily Ever After)

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. To join the celebration of love, passion, and commitment, we are bringing love into the sales compensation equation for success. We propose that you look at your reps’ relationship with the plan as you would at a new love interest. How do you gain their attention? How do you make them trust you and commit? Hopefully, the ideas we present here will help you motivate reps better, keep them happy with the plan, and achieve better results on the long run.

Compensation Plan

Every new relationship is fun and exciting. Adopting a compensation plan should be that too. But motivating sales people is a big challenge for companies. Research shows that only 50-60% of sales reps have reached or exceeded quotas in 2015*. Clearly, there is room for improvement.

Let’s draw from lessons learned in love and see how they could lead to better engagement with the compensation plan:

  1. The Tease – The first impression counts. To make a good impression with your new sales compensation plan, offer reps an intuitive platform that adds value to their work. An accessible, mobile friendly platform that helps them be more productive and increases visibility into results will surely get their attention.
  2. The First Date – You meet for the first time and you want to put yourself in the best light. Falling in love is all about being open about your feelings. When it comes to your reps, ensure nothing gets lost in translation through clear performance reports. Help your sales team understand results quickly and painlessly to prevent frustration from piling up. With the right tools, reps can significantly reduce the time they spend digging up information and understanding performance. This allows them to focus on selling and achieving objectives.
  3. The Second Date – You’re clearly interested in each other, but can you take it to the next level and keep the engagement level high? Show reps that compensation plans can be fun through gamification. Gamification takes elements from games and applies them to a work environment. You can use it to make the compensation platform more engaging or to create friendly competition. According to a 2013 Aberdeen Group report**, adding gamification elements to sales performance management is linked to superior sales results.
  4. Long Term Relationship – Time to bring trust and commitment to the table. Communicate the plan clearly and openly from the get go – and keep sales updated. Ask for feedback, listen, and try to implement change suggestions when possible. This goes a long way towards getting them on board with the compensation program. And it will help you avoid disputes.
  5. Growing Old Together – The best is yet to come. In order to build a truly lasting relationship with your sales force, make sure reps understand their role in the big picture and feel part of the team. Provide plan roadmaps to help them achieve the best results. Offer constant feedback and training opportunities to give them the chance to grow. Not least, keep the plan aligned with the company goals and always show reps how their efforts are contributing to strategy execution.

Sales compensation plans are a big part of motivation and should not be something reps must accept. The smartest companies understand they get the best results when reps willingly embrace the plan, understand their objectives and how they fit within the bigger picture, and put passion into achieving their goals. Use this time of the year to add that extra something to your plan that will make reps truly engage and commit on the long run.

Let’s fall in love and never look back!

Do you have any (loving) ideas to improve plan adoption and engagement?

** Aberdeen Group, Sales Effectiveness 2013: The Rise of #Gamification

* CSO Insights, 2015 Sales Compensation and Performance Management Study

7 Steps to Designing an Incentive Compensation Plan that Drives Results

Most companies are dissatisfied with their compensation programs. Read this guide to learn how to design a comp plan that gets results.

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