This is the third in a three-part series of The Sales Compensation Diamond – evaluating and designing a best-in-class sales compensation program. Click here for Part I: Framing the Plan or here for Part 2: Linking Pay and Performance.
10. Institute the Governance Process
Beyond the core design of the sales compensation plan are processes and policies for operating the broader program. A good governance process is like the constitution of the sales compensation plan that advances it from a set of plans to an effective and impactful program that helps the company grow. Without a clear approach to governance, the organization will probably create the governing laws throughout the year as it goes, sometimes in a reactive mode.
At their worst, some of these situations can create serious liability for the company in the form of employee challenges or suits for disagreements and misinterpretations of the plan. We’ve all heard of courts awarding millions in favor of sales employees who were bilked out of commissions for a major deal that the company thought was outside of the reps’ control and outside of the plan. Is there a well-defined Sales Compensation Constitution? Does it consider the wealth of information the company likely has about past plan operations practices? Is the governance process clear or subject to interpretation, opening the company to increased risk?
11. Operate the Program
With the sales compensation program developed, the sales organization is ready to operate. The first step is communications and roll-out. Actually, communications should start back during the plan evaluation process, with employee and stakeholder input, and continue through the design process with testing and socialization. If the communications process starts with the program introduction, the leadership team may be in a catch-up position.
Operating the program throughout the year will draw from all of the strategic connections made, components designed, and governance established. From a tactical standpoint, technology may also be leveraged to track performance, administer pay, and provide a communications portal for the reps and management.
12. Evaluate the Program
Program evaluation should be an ongoing and regular process throughout the year, drawing upon the dashboard and tools to monitor relationships between pay and performance, attainment of goals, differentiation of high and low performers. How does the program operate now? What improvements can be made? How is the plan communicated to our participants? What is the support process to regularly inform and reinforce our messages? Is there a regular plan evaluation process installed to view the performance and impact of the plan at any time, or is it a mad scramble to compile pieces of information from different sources?
Keep this process in your pocket; even have it laminated for your team, because we guarantee you’ll refer back to it, especially when you get deep in the conversations on design and analysis. One of the keys to great sales compensation design is having a playbook for your team that everyone references to make sure you’ve considered each step. With your team’s playbook defined, you can then layer in your strategic alignments, business performance and results, best practices from similar businesses, and the creativity you’ll need to develop an impactful solution for your business.
Next week I’ll begin a two-part series about how to calculate the ROI of your sales compensation plan. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.