Don’t over-compensate the Sales team to sell the new product. Reward Product Management and Customer Success with sales incentives.

You are launching a new product this quarter. As CEO, you ask yourself a question. “How are we going to make the year 1 goal with this new product?”


Here’s an answer based on experience. Don’t over-compensate the Sales team to sell the new product. Reward Product Management and Customer Success with sales incentives.


Product Management


Why should you reward your Product Managers? Because the exceptional, inspired Product people are entrepreneurs. They’re innovative thinkers with an understanding of what the market needs. They are “business” owners who have a passion for developing excellent products. They deserve a piece of the potential upside to their creations.


Tie part of their compensation to sales performance. Reward a percentage of their compensation only if Sales makes their number. There are several benefits to doing this:


  1. Pre-launch: Product Managers will be incented to develop products that sell. They’ll naturally align better to the Sales team and the market. As a result, your innovations will solve real problems in a profitable way.


  2. During launch: The product team will be more inclined to reach out to Sales and collect customer feedback. To do this, use real-time feedback mechanisms such as win/loss or post-mortem calls.


  3. Post-launch: Product Managers will be more inclined to roll-out customer-centric product improvements in the future.


A plan like this will attract and retain the top product talent. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with bad Product Managers. Bad Product Managers will continue to shuttle requirements between themselves and the developers. In the end, a mediocre approach will produce a mediocre product. And Sales will be expected to sell a non-competitive solution.


Download the Product Feedback Guide to collect feedback directly from your Buyers and Prospects, and iterate product improvements more quickly.


Customer Success


Why should you reward your Customer Success team? Because your Customer Success reps are listening to the customer daily. Naturally, what the buyer wants is what the buyer will buy. The Customer Success team is ideally positioned to educate the Product and Sales teams.


Your Product and Sales leaders should provide a short script for Customer Success. Every call is an opportunity for research and development. Just like Product, some compensation should be tied to Sales performance. There are several benefits to doing this:


  1. The mini-win/loss call: Get feedback on Sales issues. How can Sales become more effective? Did Sales align with the needs of the buyer? What can be done to win back the business?


  2. Product requirements call: Get feedback on the product and features. An initial product launch is more like a pilot. With quick iterations based on customer feedback, the product can evolve more quickly.


  3. Account Development. Cross-sell/up-sell opportunities can be uncovered during all customer interactions. With the right incentive and feedback loop, Sales can get leads on new business.




Typically, Sales leaders don’t offer product-specific incentives to their team. It is time to disrupt the status quo. If you don’t, your organization will aggressively push the new product regardless of actual buyer needs. And to pitch a bad product is the quickest way to miss your sales number.


One of my former clients made this mistake. Leadership over-compensated Sales for one new product. As a result, the team stopped listening to the buyer and forced the new product. Topline revenue declined 1% year-over-year and the Sales leader lost his job. Comp wasn’t the only factor, but if the buyer is not the primary focus, the Product team will not develop the right solutions. Furthermore, Sales will not focus on the right things and is at risk of missing their number.




As you launch your new product, here’s how to make your year 1 goal. Widen your focus beyond Sales. Include Product and Customer Success in the success (or failure) of your Sales team. Give all of these teams a performance-based incentive plan.


What to do next:


  1. Stay focused on the needs of the buyer and eliminate a product-pitch culture. This is the first step toward a successful product launch.


  2. Mandate a weekly cross-functional call. You don’t need a complex all-hands meeting. You only need a call between three leaders:  Product, Customer Success, and Sales. This will facilitate the exchange of vital information.


  3. Create a performance-based incentive plan for Product Management and Customer Success. Motivate these teams to listen to the market and create solutions that matter.


Download the Product Feedback Guide to improve your solutions during regular cross-functional meetings. The guide will help you to foster communications between Product, Customer Success, and Sales, collect feedback directly from your Buyers and Prospects, and iterate product improvements more quickly.



Dan Bernoske

Develops innovative revenue growth solutions and designs the SBI client experience.

Prior to SBI, Dan held business development, sales, and product management leadership positions at several start-up companies, developing Apple iOS platforms and E-Commerce-based social networks. Most notably, Dan was co-founder of Video Lantern, an online video advertising sales and operations firm. He is Six Sigma certified from GE.

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