Revolutionizing Global Sales Compensation: Lessons from Siemens' Head of Sales Comp Center of Excellence

Don Hubbartt is a renowned sales compensation leader and expert with over 17 years of experience at Siemens and diverse leadership roles in compensation and HR across leading companies. As a WorldatWork member and former president of the Chicago Compensation Association, Don is widely recognized for his contributions to the field and his innovative approaches to incentive design, governance, and industry best practices. He’s currently the Head of Sales Compensation Center of Excellence at Siemens.

In this engaging conversation with Nabeil Alazzam, Don shares his journey into the sales compensation space, highlighting the evolution of sales roles and strategies over the past 15-20 years. He delves into the importance of building a global sales compensation center of excellence to drive consistency, simplification, and automation across the organization.

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

  • why you should prioritize job role standardization when creating a global framework
  • the importance of gathering administrative details and goal setting
  • why community and collaboration are essential
  • Don's top tips for building a sales comp center of excellence

Three key takeaways:

#1: Create global standardization with local flexibility

Don emphasizes the need for a sales compensation center of excellence to strike a balance between global standardization and local adaptability. This involves creating a comprehensive framework that maintains uniformity in sales compensation practices across all branches of a global corporation while also taking into account the specific conditions and challenges of local markets. By doing so, the organization ensures that its broader strategic objectives are met without overlooking the unique aspects of regional markets which could influence the effectiveness of compensation strategies.

For global companies, Don says the challenge is to design a system that is robust enough to guide operations worldwide yet flexible enough to accommodate local specificities such as cultural differences, economic conditions, and legal constraints. A successful global compensation plan, therefore, provides a standardized structure that can be adapted to meet local needs, ensuring that sales teams are motivated and effective regardless of their geographical location.

To do this well, Don particularly stressed the importance of sales role standardization, in partnership with HR, since job duties for the same role can vary widely across different geographies.

"It really should start with the role. I know I'm probably sounding like a consultant or something here, but I really think as professionals in this space, we really need to start first with that....You've got to get those roles cleanly defined." - Don Hubbartt, Siemens

#2: Get leadership support and have clear objectives

Leadership support is crucial for the success of a sales compensation center of excellence, Don highlighted. When senior leaders actively support the center's initiatives, it not only ensures alignment with the organization's strategic goals but also helps in securing the necessary resources and overcoming potential resistance to change. Leadership endorsement adds credibility to the efforts of the center and integrates its functions with the company’s overarching business objectives, thus driving effective implementation of compensation strategies.

Furthermore, Don discussed the importance of having clear and defined objectives for a center of excellence. These goals should articulate the center’s purpose, such as enhancing sales productivity, better aligning incentives with strategic goals, or improving the efficiency of compensation administration. A clear vision or North Star guides the center's activities, ensuring that all strategic efforts and decisions are cohesive and directed towards achieving common organizational goals.

“I would say a mistake that we made early on was we started with design. And I think that's a good necessary place to start. But we really didn't pick up the admin piece until a little bit later....Again, what's your goal? Is your goal total global consistency? Is your goal local with global governance, global best practices?...Have a North Star view.” - Don Hubbartt, Siemens

#3: Community and collaboration are essential

The dialogue between Nabeil and Don underscores the importance of building a community within the sales compensation center of excellence that fosters collaboration and shared learning. This community should include a diverse set of stakeholders from various departments—HR, finance, sales, and operations—to incorporate a wide range of insights and expertise in the compensation planning process. Such inclusivity enhances the quality and relevance of the sales compensation strategies developed.

“This is a whole network of people that we depend on that have dependencies. There's people dependent on me. There's stuff that I'm doing that depends on others. There's countries that ask questions or local field stakeholders that ask questions and having that community of just collaboration really goes a long way.” - Don Hubbartt, Siemens

Nabeil and Don both emphasize the need for regular interactions and open lines of communication within this community, such as through meetings, workshops, and collaborative platforms. These interactions help build trust and ensure transparency, key factors that encourage continued engagement and support from all members of the organization. This collaborative environment not only aids in developing effective compensation plans but also cultivates a sense of ownership among participants, aligning them more closely with the organization's strategic objectives.

The Sales Compensation Show is brought to you by, 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 can help design, execute, and optimize your sales comp strategy, start a conversation with us today.

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