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Optimizing the Seller Experience With Sales Compensation

John Capin is a Revenue Operations Leader at Genesys, a leading software company specializing in customer experience and call center technology for mid-sized and large businesses. He currently serves as the Senior Director of Strategy, Planning & Rewards, responsible for sales and marketing compensation design and strategic planning. 

With over twelve years of experience in sales, John made the career switch from being a front-line seller into the world of sales compensation and revenue operations, which makes for some unique insights. 

In a conversation with Nabeil Alazzam, John delves into his experience moving from the sales floor to an operations role, and his involvement with sales compensation. He also provides his thoughts on the sales compensation team having a seat at the table during the GTM strategy setting process, as well as insights on a world of individualized incentive plans.

Listen to this episode of The Sales Compensation Show to learn: 

  • How sales compensation teams can optimize the seller experience
  • The reason sales compensation should have a seat at the strategy table
  • Why individualized sales compensation plans could be the future

Three key takeaways:

#1: Make efforts to optimize the seller experience

All of the top sales compensation teams have one thing in common: they view the sales organization and every salesperson as their customers. Just as we want our customers to have a great experience, we should also aim to make the experience great for our salespeople.

The seller experience is about more than just their pay. But the compensation team can make a difference in many other areas, such as:

  1. Creating motivating and achievable compensation plans
  2. Optimizing for the best time to introduce these plans to the organization
  3. Monitoring if salespeople are satisfied and understanding the comp plans
  4. Providing accurate and on-time performance and commission data
  5. Managing disputes and coming to a resolution

There’s always room for improvement in these areas, and one way to make them better is by stepping into the shoes of the salespeople and making their experience the best it can be.

The Complete Guide to Sales Compensation in 2023

#2: Sales compensation should have a seat at the executive table

Sales compensation plays a pivotal role in driving a company’s overall growth and profitability. Their work directly influences salesforce motivation, performance, and alignment with strategic objectives.

By being part of executive decisions (i.e., GTM strategy setting), they can ensure that compensation plans are not only competitive in the market but also effectively incentivize sales teams to focus on key priorities, whether it’s selling specific products, entering new markets, or achieving long-term customer relationships.

Sales comp can often be seen as just an admin function. But it’s a very powerful lever for motivating the sales team and aligning incentives with corporate goals.

Nabeil Alazzam, Forma.ai

Moreover, the sales comp team’s insights can help in balancing short-term revenue goals with the company’s long-term sustainability and profitability objectives, promoting a more comprehensive and strategic approach to sales compensation that ultimately benefits the entire organization.

#3: Individualized plans could be the future of sales compensation

Individualized sales compensation plans are emerging as the future of sales comp because they recognize the unique strengths and motivations of each salesperson.

In an era of data-driven decision-making, individualized plans leverage analytics to align incentives with individual performances, resulting in higher engagement, retention, and productivity.

By tailoring rewards to match each salesperson, companies can attract and retain top talent, adapt to changes in the market, and drive strategic alignment, ultimately leading to a more effective and agile salesforce.

Individualizing incentives is a major organizational change. It won’t happen overnight. But we can start the transition by taking small steps towards personalized compensation plans today. Here are five steps to get you started:

1. Gather data 

Start by collecting as much data on your salespeople and customers as possible. If you can get a better understanding of your customer’s buying behavior, you can customize nudges to your salespeople that are unique to them, their territory, and their target accounts.

2. Test on small groups 

Test out a selection of incentive plans for reps to choose from. Segment your reps into groups based on what incentivizes them the most. This will help you identify how they view risk and reward, respond to different incentives, and navigate behavioral challenges.

3. Individualize small components 

Rather than reworking a core element of the plan like pay mix, start on a smaller scale with individualized SPIFs. These offer the same opportunity to personalize earning potential but with far less risk.

4. Find the right tools 

A significant obstacle — if not the obstacle — to individualized incentives is the administrative burden it presents. Traditional ICM solutions are not built to handle the level of complexity required to manage individualized comp.

Look for a solution that allows for fast and highly custom, flexible change management and reporting. 

5. Monitor continuously 

The key to a high-performance incentive program is continuous monitoring. It is even more important when embarking on experiments like individualization because of the direct impact on revenue. You must be able to identify and adjust quickly if novel incentives don’t go as planned. 

We are not suggesting that you rewrite your sales comp plan from its current one-size-fits-all model to uniquely individualized plans today. Major changes like this are made through incremental innovation and improvement. But the best incentives for your team to accomplish their goals will vary depending on the individual, so it’s worth exploring ways to optimize that. 

The key is investing in technology with the agility and sophistication to manage and analyze performance data on-demand, A/B test incentives, and run models based on real-time data.

That’s our goal at Forma.ai — to provide a solution that makes truly individualized incentives possible and profitable.

Interesting perspective from John Capin and Nabeil Alazzam on moving from sales to comp, the future of incentive programs, and more. Click To Tweet

The Sales Compensation Show is brought to you by Forma.ai, the world’s first sales compensation platform designed around the agile methodology of CompOps. Find us by searching “sales compensation” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and other streaming services.

To learn more about how Forma.ai can help design, execute, and optimize your sales compensation strategy, start a conversation with us today.

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