Is Every Sales Role Eligible For Compensation?

Defining a sales role is one of the first to consider when designing a sales compensation plan. The individual program one decides to apply, for example a tiered commission plan, applies to a sales role and not (most of the times) to an individual.

Now that each role is defined and grouped, it’s time to decide whether each role is eligible for sales incentives.

This seems obvious. If a salesperson sells a product, they deserve an incentive, right? That’s true – no salesperson will sell for you if they don’t have an incentive to do so!

But many companies overlook roles that aren’t directly involved in selling, but are still sales roles nonetheless. 

For example, I once worked with a technology company that sold a complicated product. Because of the level of complexity, they employed pre-sales consultants who regularly met with the sales manager to strategize for the business. Although they didn’t have sales targets, their role was key in generating opportunities. We agreed to make the consultants eligible for sales incentives, and within a year they’d increased sales by twenty three percent.

Sales people work alongside a pre-sales technical support team, whose answers to technical questions play a significant part in eventually closing a deal.

The one thing you must consider when deciding on the eligibility of a sales role is the relationship with the customer.

Look at it this way: A sales role is one that involves a significant relationship with the customer, and drives that relationship towards specific milestones. A sales role requires significant contact and engagement with prospects and customers, with a view to persuading them to take action.

A sales role must also be defined by clear and quantifiable sales objectives, which can be reached by way of the client relationship.

Other things to consider for each sales role

When defining a sales role, you need to go beyond direct sales, and consider the following:

Who sets the targets?

Sales people don’t set their own targets. Just as in the example I gave of the technology company, it’s up to management to decide on the sales targets for each eligible role.

What is the lead generation process like?

Lead generation takes a lot of work. For some sales roles, there’s a whole team that brings qualified leads, so the sales person’s sole responsibility is to run the opportunity to closure. In other cases, the salesperson must hunt for leads. When defining a sales role, it’s vital to look at the entire end to end process the role entails.

Who decides the sales strategy?

Who decides on the go-to sales strategy, and communicates it to the sales people?

What is the life cycle of a sale?

Taking an opportunity from lead generation to closure can be a long process. It might involve work with the stakeholders of a company. It frequently involves legal work, and don’t forget the technical stage of implementing your product or solution if necessary.

A salesperson could be responsible for all or some of these tasks, and some of them take time away from direct selling.

What support does the sales role get?

Sales roles might get support from managers, marketers, administrators, or others. When defining the role, it helps to know who supports that role, and how that support contributes to the main sales role.

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