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Weekly Blog Team

How to Communicate Your Sales Comp Plan to Employees

You’re all ready for the big game. You’ve made your infamous wings with the ghost pepper buffalo sauce. You’ve got enough Litehouse Bleu Cheese to drown the 1 million scoville said wings will deliver. You’ve got the beverages, the bbq, and the bean dip with seven layers. It’s got all the makings of a great weekend. Now imagine if all that was gone and instead you just lazily turned on your favorite game of the week with zero fanfare in the background while you cleaned the garage?

Things that matter, not only need fanfare, they demand it. So when you roll out a new sales comp plan…break out the tailgate, bring the goods, and make it a big deal because it IS a big deal so your teams can bring in the BIG DEALS. In order to pump up the sales team and get ready for a great selling season, you’ve got to have all the fanfare fixins’ to fuel you through to the end goal. A performance driving masterclass in sales. 

Your sales compensation plan defines the ways your sales reps earn money—ideally by aligning incentives for sales activities with organizational objectives. But the plan won’t sell itself or motivate your sales team on its own. When rolling out a new plan, you need to have a communication strategy in place.

Treat rolling out your new sales comp plan like a product launch. You wouldn’t release a new product without first developing a marketing strategy. You’d be asking for lackluster sales at best—no matter how good the product itself may be.

Likewise, you may have the best sales comp plan, but if you haven’t developed a communication plan for it, your sales reps will likely ignore or even actively resist the new plan. You may need to overcome years of habits and old ways of thinking. If you want sales reps to embrace the new plan, you’ll need to clearly and repeatedly articulate what’s different, how it affects them, and why it’s worth the effort.

Here’s how to communicate your sales comp plan to employees and bring them fully onboard with the new structure.

Develop a narrative for why the plan is changing

A common mistake when introducing a new sales comp plan is to focus on the mechanics before selling the story. You can’t just assume that your plan will automatically be well received, nor should you think that the details of the pay structure will be enough to win over your sales reps.

You need to tie it to a broader narrative about your organization’s mission and values, the current market environment, and problems the new plan will address. Make sure you can provide context for why the changes were needed in the first place—ideally in a single memorable sentence.

Then explain how those changes will benefit the team. Work with sales leadership to gain an understanding of the specific struggles faced by your sales reps, and craft the narrative around resolving those issues.

Provide documentation explaining the new comp plan

While it’s important to lead with the narrative, you will ultimately need to get into the nuts and bolts of the plan as well. That means providing a full technical document that lays out all the details of how your reps make money, what their commissions will be, additional benefits, and any caps or limitations.

However, don’t assume that all of your sales people will actually sift through the entire plan to find the bits of information that are most relevant to them. It’s your job to make the information they need as accessible as possible. There are several ways you can do that.

Start with a compelling summary

Pull out and summarize the most relevant information at the beginning of your sales comp plan. You can even create a few different summaries catered to the specific roles that will need to interact with the plan. Each employee should immediately see exactly what they need to know to do their job.

Use visual aids

Create a presentation deck to use for the sales kickoff meeting or when you onboard new hires. Include visual aids that set expectations and demonstrate new earning potentials. For example, you can pull earnings from past data, run those numbers through the new plan to see what they now could be, and show a side-by-side chart of the difference. Be sure to provide distinct visual aids for each role affected by the sales comp plan.

Include a what-if calculator

Sometimes the best way for your reps to understand and buy into a new sales comp plan is with hands-on experience. A what-if calculator allows them to input possible sales scenarios and see exactly what their compensation will be for each one. Assuming your incentives are properly aligned with organizational goals, that means they’ll see the greatest earning potential with the sales activities that will most benefit your business.

Performio’s incentive compensation management (ICM) software comes with what-if calculators built into our intuitive dashboards.

Ensure easy access to your documentation

Your sales team should be able to pull up all of these components any time they need to reference them, and they shouldn’t have to spend an hour digging through piles of paperwork or poorly organized shared drives to find them. You need a centralized source of truth where all important documentation is stored.

Performio uses a role-based system to ensure that everyone who needs access to a given document will have it, while keeping sensitive information away from those who don’t need it.

Bring the sales leadership team on board

Your sales leadership team has a deep understanding of what motivates your sales reps, what struggles they face, how decisions affect their day-to-day work, and what changes could be made to best facilitate success. Additionally, sales leaders usually take the role because they want to feel like they’re a part of the company’s success.

This makes them passionate advocates—or fierce critics—of your sales comp plan, depending on whether you’re able to get them on board. So it’s crucial to get their buy-in before presenting the plan to the rest of the team.

Walk them through the new plan first, and take the time to clarify how it will benefit not only them, but also the sales reps they manage and the business as a whole. They need to see exactly how the plan will drive forward organizational objectives.

Be prepared to field any objections they may bring up, as well as objections they anticipate from their sales reps. Talk through the plan with them to discuss how reps will respond, and be sure they have all the resources they need to answer questions and advocate for your plan.

Establish a timeline and follow through

Take the time to plan and schedule every stage of the rollout before you begin. This includes setting times for:

  • Meeting with sales leadership to discuss the plan
  • Hosting your kickoff meeting
  • Meeting with teams individually
  • Allowing managers to discuss the plan one-on-one with employees
  • Checking in and communicating with people while the plan is being executed

As the rollout progresses, you’ll need to keep track of how employees are adjusting to the new sales comp plan. Drop in on sales meetings to see firsthand how the plan is being received, and measure sales performance to identify individuals or groups who may need additional communication.

Make plans for congratulating people who meet their quotas and encouraging better performance from those who fall behind. With an ICM like Performio, you can see how everyone is doing at any point in time, and even schedule automated emails to be sent out based on specific triggers and criteria.

For example, you can set it to send once a certain percentage of the sales team has reached 100% of the target. And the emails themselves can be individualized to each team member, addressing them by name and catering the content to their current progress.

For those who are above the target, it will be a congratulatory email, thanking them for their hard work and making it clear how their sales contribute to the organization’s success as a whole. And for those who are further behind, it can be an encouragement to make it the rest of the way, possibly including sales tips for getting past hurdles.

Enhance sales communication with Performio

Whether rolling out a new sales comp plan or just keeping up with day-to-day sales activities, good communication is essential. You need a platform that makes it easy for your team to access the information they need.

Performio’s ICM software provides you with a centralized repository for important documents, role-based access to sensitive information, interdepartmental messaging, what-if calculators, performance tracking, and more.

Ready to see what Performio can do for your business? Request a demo today.


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