Expert Tips to Excel in Your Sales Compensation Career – from 3M, Autodesk, and UiPath
Climbing the ladder in sales compensation is no small feat, given the limited availability of senior leadership roles and the critical responsibilities attached to them. Whether you’re an experienced professional or just starting out, advancing in this field can be a formidable challenge. So, how can you stand out and thrive?
At CompOps 2023, three sales compensation leaders shared their tips for professional growth, key skills acquired throughout their careers, and strategies for self-advocacy. In this blog post, you’ll learn from:
- Lisa Black, Global Sales Incentive Director at 3M
- Meredith Noyes, Dir. WW Sales Incentive Compensation Programs at Autodesk
- Juan Felipe Mejia, Sr. Dir. Global Sales Compensation & Ops at UiPath
Discover five tips on navigating the journey from commissions analyst to sales compensation leader.
To access the full recording of this event, plus all other CompOps 2023 sessions, register here.
1. Embrace Change
In the rapidly changing world of technology, adaptability is pivotal for success. Sales compensation professionals can thrive in their careers by embracing change as a key element of their growth.
Lisa Black from 3M kicked off the discussion by highlighting the evolution of sales compensation over the past few years. While the fundamental purpose of sales compensation management has remained constant, teams now need to be more flexible to accommodate shifts in the business landscape, such as the pandemic, supply chain constraints, geopolitical issues, and more.
The function [of sales comp] hasn’t changed… but we are now required to be more flexible to accommodate changes in the business.Lisa Black, 3M
Adapt and Respond
To excel, sales compensation professionals must be more efficient and adaptable than ever. Actively seeking opportunities to learn and adopting new methods and tools are now essential for navigating the evolving sales environment. Agility, responsiveness to feedback, adjusting compensation plans, and aligning them with organizational goals are critical aspects of embracing change.
By demonstrating feedback and a proactive approach to change, sales compensation professionals position themselves as valuable contributors. This not only fosters continuous professional growth but also enables them to effectively meet the evolving needs of sales teams and the broader organization.
2. Learn and Innovate
The panelists shifted their discussion to the importance of mastering the fundamentals of sales, finance, and legal, and leveraging them with innovative ideas. They stressed the significance of building a strong foundation in these areas for making a meaningful impact.
For sales compensation professionals aiming to enhance their knowledge, staying up-to-date on industry trends, market dynamics, and evolving sales strategies is key. Actively seek educational opportunities, attend conferences, and invest in continuous professional development to deepen your understanding of sales compensation intricacies and drive your progress forward.
It’s important to learn the basics [of sales compensation] and how to incorporate technology into your day-to-day tasks.Juan Felipe Mejia, UiPath
The panelists also encouraged embracing an innovative culture in sales compensation. Success comes to those who adapt to change and proactively identify creative solutions. Leverage technology to streamline processes, make data-driven decisions, and explore novel incentive structures that effectively motivate sales teams.
As you gain experience, remember that success in sales compensation is not just about mastering theory. Cultivate strong relationships with key stakeholders, learn your organization’s dynamics, and innovate on strategies based on real-world feedback. Your career journey is a continuous learning process, and staying open-minded to new possibilities will lead to sustained success and professional growth.
3. Advocate for Yourself
Elevate your sales compensation career through proactive self-advocacy across your professional journey. According to insights from Juan Felipe Mejia of UiPath, it’s pivotal to highlight the value you bring to your organization. This means showcasing achievements like successfully implementing incentive programs that drive sales performance or adeptly navigating complex compensation structures.
Self-advocacy also entails seeking professional development opportunities and expressing a willingness to take on challenging projects. Engage with your leadership teams, communicate your career goals, and explore ways to contribute to the company’s overall success. Proactively demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement will position you as an invaluable asset.
Show that you can do more… Show that you can think strategically and that you are an asset to your organization.Juan Felipe Mejia, UiPath
Communication is Key
Effective communication skills are essential. Develop your ability to effectively express ideas, share insights, and contribute to compensation strategy discussions. Utilize your expertise to educate colleagues and management on the impact of well-designed incentive plans on sales performance.
In essence, self-advocacy is a comprehensive approach. As the panelists discussed, take control of your professional development by establishing clear goals, focusing on strategic tasks, positioning yourself as a leader, and showcasing your unique skills to truly stand out.
4. Think Holistically
Empower your career as a sales compensation professional by adopting a holistic approach to your role. Instead of focusing solely on individual transactions or isolated comp plan components, understand your organization’s broader goals, strategies, and culture. Develop a mindset that aligns sales incentives with overall business objectives, ensuring comp plans not only motivate sellers but also contribute to the company’s overall success.
As Meredith Noyes from Autodesk suggests, holistic thinking means considering all stakeholders involved in the sales process. Recognize how different functions within the company are interconnected by collaborating closely with teams like marketing, finance, and legal. Building strong relationships with these stakeholders allows you to tailor compensation plans to reflect a unified and integrated approach.
Take time to serve your primary stakeholders and understand what concerns them. It goes a long way.Meredith Noyes, Autodesk
Build a Strategic Partnership
Building on Meredith’s insights, the panel highlighted the value of adopting a holistic mindset to position yourself as a strategic partner within the organization, enhancing your ability to drive sustainable growth and long-term success. This approach goes beyond addressing immediate challenges; it involves actively identifying opportunities for innovation and improvement across various aspects of the business.
As emphasized by the panel, a holistic mindset promotes collaboration and cross-functional involvement, fostering a culture of adaptability and continuous learning. Ultimately, embracing this mindset not only positions you strategically but also establishes a foundation for sustained excellence, creating a positive ripple effect throughout the entire organization.
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5. Expand Your Network
The discussion concluded with an emphasis on the importance of expanding and nurturing your professional network. A robust network promotes collaboration, facilitates knowledge sharing, and is essential for career growth. Connecting with fellow sales compensation professionals ensures you stay up-to-date on the latest strategies, incentive structures, and compensation models.
Networking is more than just sharing information; it cultivates the sharing of ideas and best practices, helping professionals improve their skills and contribute innovative solutions to challenges. Building relationships with colleagues and mentors provides guidance, offering valuable perspectives that can help shape your career. A well-established network is also a source of referrals and introductions, opening doors to new opportunities and collaborations.
Building relationships with other functions helps drive consistency… and enables you to think more strategically.Lisa Black, 3M
Be Active in the Community
The panelists recommended participating in industry events, conferences, and online forums to connect with peers in the sales compensation community. Actively engaging in discussions, sharing knowledge, and seeking advice not only demonstrates a commitment to professional growth but also boosts your reputation within the industry. At Forma.ai, we aim to give many opportunities for this in our sales compensation community.
Networking is not just about exchanging information; it’s about building a personal brand, positioning yourself as a thought leader and expert in the field.
Cultivate relationships across different departments, stay connected with key stakeholders, and get active in the community. Your next career opportunity may come from unexpected places.
Your Next Steps
Whether you’re new to the field, aiming for advancement, or transitioning into a leadership role, achieving success in sales compensation requires a tailored approach rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. This comprehensive panel, with insights from industry leaders Lisa Black, Meredith Noyes, and Juan Felipe Mejia, offers guidance to professionals at every stage of their career.
From embracing change and fostering innovation to self-advocacy, adopting a holistic mindset, and expanding your professional network, success hinges on a strategic blend of skills and approaches.
As the panelists highlighted, continuous learning, adaptability, and collaboration are foundational elements that not only propel individual growth but also contribute to the overall success of sales teams and organizations. By incorporating these principles into your career journey, you not only position yourself as a valuable asset but also create a positive influence within the dynamic field of sales comp.
The key lies in applying these tips to forge your own path toward a fulfilling sales compensation career. One way to start taking on a more holistic strategic perspective is by learning how successful teams and leaders, like the RevOps teams at HubSpot and ZoomInfo, integrate business objectives that impact sales compensation.
To access the full recording of this event, plus all other CompOps 2023 sessions, register here.