article | June 8, 2018
Please Stop Telling Me Comp is the Problem
As sales leaders, we are all too familiar with the adage that compensation drives behavior.
We missed our quarterly number on new logos, or the cross-sale of the new product launch is significantly lagging expectations, or perhaps the field isn’t leveraging pre-sales resources to close more upselling opportunities…. Well then, it’s clear that we’re just not driving the right behaviors by compensating them correctly.
Defining the Problem. Symptom or Root Cause?
Many sales leaders would be hesitant to identify the specific attributable to their success, conversely the more elusive evidence tied to failures. There are many potential symptoms in the KPI data. However, correlation does not always indicate causation.
As your company evolves its corporate GTM objectives and you evolve your sales & marketing strategy in unison, refreshing the incentive compensation design is imperative if you want to hit the revenue target….
But what about territory & quota design? Is the sales org structure & design optimal? Do we have clearly defined roles and corresponding responsibilities by role?
If you’re in the right pond, you must do more than just have the right lures, bait & tackle to ‘out-fish’ your competition. The approach and methodologies you employ once your boat is over the fish is critically important to achieve, measure and sustain success.
In other words, your sales & marketing motion may be exceptional on tactical execution (doing things right) but falling short on strategic approach (doing the right things).
Sales Organization & Territory Design
To do this, let’s look beyond the compensation plan for a moment at other potential root causes through the lenses of the sales organization and territory design. No compensation plan will be able to solve a misalignment here.
Sales organization and territory design are also dependent on your capital allocations of people, money, and time. To implement the most efficient GTM strategy, you must leverage tech-enabled touch points to maximize the customer experience and limit the amount of human middleware to align only with the potential customer’s desired outcomes.
Have you truly done the homework on which of the seven (7) B2B sales organizational models best serve your current customer base and go-to-market strategy?
Aligning Compensation with Territory Design
Assuming you’ve struck the right balance in terms of design above, the next question is whether your sales capacity is effectively deployed against the market opportunity, not just incentivized.
If you lack clarity on any of the above, then your root issues go beyond just compensation.
Show Me the Money
Old compensation concepts are both a blessing and a curse. Stick to the way you have always done things and you are sure to miss your revenue targets but over-rotate to the new concepts, and you will push talented reps out the door.
If you still believe that Comp is your sole problem child, then you can test your current compensation strategy against our Sales Comp Best Practice Tool and read more about strategic alignment here:
Too often leaders from small business to large enterprise spend a disproportionate amount of time working ‘in the business’ instead of ‘on the business’; whether the organization has 8 layers and 10 BUs or an all-hats wearing head of sales who dabbles in ops, marketing, service and support.
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