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Sales Compensation Programs and Practices research A report by WorldatWork October 2010 Contact: WorldatWork Customer Relations N. Northsight Blvd. Scottsdale, Arizona USA Toll free:
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Sales Compensation Programs and Practices research A report by WorldatWork October 2010 Contact: WorldatWork Customer Relations N. Northsight Blvd. Scottsdale, Arizona USA Toll free: Fax: 1 Introduction & Methodology This report summarizes the results of a July 2010 survey of WorldatWork members to gather information about current trends in sales compensation programs and practices. This survey focuses on the prevalence of base and variable pay programs as well as common practices used to administer and communicate these programs in today s workplace. A similar sales compensation survey was conducted by WorldatWork in Where possible, historical comparisons from data gathered in previous WorldatWork Sales Compensation Practices surveys are shown. On July 12, 2010, the sales compensation programs and practices survey opened through an announcement in the WorldatWork Sales Compensation Focus newsletter. Text in the newsletter provided a brief overview of the survey and a link to the survey was also included. A follow-up reminder was ed on July 21 and 28, 2010, to all participants from the WorldatWork Salary Budget Survey and randomly selected members who had designated compensation in their title. The survey closed on August 6, 2010, with 682 responses. The final dataset was cleaned, resulting in a final dataset of 516 responses. In order to provide the most accurate data possible, data was cleaned and analyzed using statistical software. Any duplicate records were removed. Data comparisons with any relevant, statistically significant differences are noted within this report. The demographics of the survey sample and the respondents are similar to the WorldatWork membership as a whole. The typical WorldatWork member works at the managerial level or higher in the headquarters of a large company in North America. The frequencies or response distributions listed in the report show the number of times or percentage of times a value appears in a data set. Due to rounding, frequencies of data responses provided in this survey may not total exactly 100%. 2 Table of Figures Primary Sales Roles and Pay Mix Figure 1: Sales Roles.. 5 Figure 2: Average Pay Mix 5 Figure 3: Number of Performance Measures... 6 Figure 4: Performance Measures for Sales Roles Figure 5: Number of Performance Measures by sales role type.. 7 Figure 6: Performance Measures, individual, team and both and 2011 Plan Figure 7: Meaningful Changes to Sales Compensation Plans in Figure 8: Changes to the Sales Compensation Plans a 5-year overview.. 8 Figure 9: Reason for the Change (2010) Figure 10: Reasons for the change (current plan), a 3-year review Figure 11: Meaningful Changes to Sales Compensation Plans in Figure 12: Reason for the Change (2011) Figure 13: Select reasons for a change (upcoming plan), a 3-year overview Sales Compensation Policy and Practice Figure 14: Plan philosophy and documentation.. 12 Figure 15: Environmental Affect on the Sales Compensation Plan Figure 16: Board of Director s involvement in the Sales Compensation Plan Figure 17: Board of Director s Change in the Sales Compensation Plan.. 13 Figure 18: Stakeholders with Ultimate Approval to Change the Sales Compensation Plan. 14 Figure 19: Factors Contributing to the Success/Failure of the Recent Sales Plan Launch. 14 Select Comparisons Figure 20: Participants with a documented sales philosophy and plan changes Figure 21: Number of performance measures in a sales plan and sales philosophy Figure 22: Revisions to the current sales compensation plan by leading industries 16 Figure 23: Revisions to the 2011 sales compensation plan by leading industries. 17 Figure 24: Number of performance measures by organization size Figure 24: Documented sales compensation philosophy by organizations size.. 18 Figure 25: Changes to the sales compensation plan by organization size Demographics Figure 26: Organization status.. 19 Figure 27: Participants Role or Level. 19 Figure 28: Supervisor s Role or Level. 20 Figure 29: Number of Employees Worldwide.. 20 Figure 30: Industry Figure 31: Sales Size Figure 32: Sales Revenue and Target Revenue for the Most Recent Fiscal Year 22 3 Executive Summary The environment for sales organizations in 2010 has been the most difficult in recent memory and the implications for managing sales compensation programs have been challenging. The driving reason for those making plan changes this year, as in 2009, was to improve the alignment between sales incentive pay and business strategy. Earlier in the decade, the alignment objective was much less prominent as a driver scoring only slightly stronger than mechanical drivers such as reducing plan complexity or adjusting measures and weights. In 2010, improving alignment was by far the dominant driver for making plan changes and is a clear indication that organizations are seeking greater precision in connecting business strategy to salesforce behavior through incentive compensation. Still, in the midst of this turbulent environment, more organizations chose to stay the course and not make material changes to sales compensation plans this year. For the first time this survey found a majority of organizations making no change to sales compensation plans. Even more striking is 39% of organizations reported the economy had no impact on their sales compensation plans in the past year. As deep as the recession was, two in five organizations were able to weather it without any impact to their sales compensation plans. Clearly the economic impact of the recession was not evenly distributed across all economic sectors, and care should be taken in interpreting sales compensation trends in Sales Compensation Design Primary Sales Roles Nearly eight of 10 organizations are utilizing hybrid sales roles that include responsibility for both new business and existing accounts. Less than half of organizations reported using specialized sales roles that separated responsibility for managing existing accounts and new accounts. Pay Mix Each of the primary sales roles including First Line Sales Managers, New Accounts, Existing Accounts and Hybrid roles had average pay mixes between 60/40 and 70/30. This range continues to be the most favored range since this survey began in Number of Performance Measures Most organizations reported using three or fewer performance measures with nearly of third of organizations reporting using three performance measures on average. This did vary somewhat by organizational size as smaller organizations (fewer than 1,000 employees) were far more likely to use only one performance measure than larger organizations. Types of Performance Measures Total revenue was the most prevalent performance measure for all sales roles except new account sellers, which was more likely to use new account revenue. Gross margin and key sales objectives were the next most common performance measures. Team or Individual Performance Performance was measured on an individual basis for all roles except First Line Sales Manager, which was more likely to measure 4 performance on a team basis. Using both team and individual performance was the next most typical approach. Process and Governance 2010 Plan Changes More than half of respondents reported NOT making plan changes in This is the first time since the inception of this survey in 2005 that a majority of organizations reported making no changes to their sales compensation plans. This correlated with industry sector as Banking/Finance and Pharmaceuticals were most likely to report making no changes in 2010 (62% and 64% respectively). Reasons for Plan Changes For those making plan changes, improving alignment was by far the most important objective (79%) more than twice as important than changing performance measures to place more emphasis on new business or decreasing plan complexity Plan Changes Slightly more than half of respondents (51%) report plan to make changes to sales compensation plans in Organizations that made changes in 2010 were more likely to report plans for changes in 2011 (61%). Reasons for Plan Changes in 2011 Better alignment continues as the most important objective for making changes in 2011 (83%). Changing performance measures to improve sales profitability is the second most important objective (41%) behind plan changes in Sales Compensation Philosophy and Documentation A majority of organizations do not have documented sales compensation philosophies or documented guidelines governing the way in which sales compensation plans should be evaluated. Most organizations (78%) report having formal plan documentation governing plan terms and conditions. Board of Director Involvement Board involvement in sales compensation is not the norm as 46% report the board having no involvement. About a third of organizations report moderate involvement (24%) or active involvement (11%) by the board. 5 Results and Analysis Primary Sales Roles and Pay Mix Figure 1: Please indicate which sales roles are currently used in your organization. (Please select all that apply.) (n= 516) Blended New and Existing Accounts Seller 78% First-Line Sales Manager 66% Existing Accounts Seller 45% New Account Seller 42% Inbound Telesales 39% Outbound Telesales 39% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Figure 2: Please indicate the average pay mix for the following sales positions in your organization based on their primary role. (n varies) Pay mix averages Blended New and Existing Accounts Seller Base Average (0-100%) 65.0% Variable Average (0-100%) 35.0% First-Line Sales Manager 69.7% 30.4% Existing Accounts Seller 64.7% 34.3% New Account Seller 59.5% 40.5% Inbound Telesales 76.2% 23.8% Outbound Telesales 70.6% 29.4% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 6 Figure 3: How many performance measures, on average, are included in the sales plan for your organization s primary sales roles? (n= 412) One 12% Two 29% 5 or more 13% Four 13% Three 34% Figure 4: Please indicate the performance measures used in your plan for primary sales roles. (Please select all that apply.) Blended New and Existing Accounts Seller (n=302) First-Line Sales Manager (n=257) Existing Accounts Seller (n=161) New Account Seller (n=151) Inbound Telesales (n=137) Outbound Telesales (n=139) Total Revenue 69% 74% 63% 76% 53% 57% New Account Revenue 32% 20% 16% 83% 24% 27% Existing Account Revenue 24% 16% 32% 14% 18% 18% Unit Volume 14% 14% 11% 19% 15% 15% Order Volume 11% 10% 12% 11% 14% 9% Gross Profit ($ or %) 30% 36% 30% 30% 20% 15% Price Realization 6% 6% 6% 5% 4% 4% Select Product Sales 23% 22% 24% 18% 18% 22% Number of New Accounts 18% 12% 6% 24% 18% 14% Account Retention 16% 13% 28% 6% 10% 12% Account Expansion 11% 12% 20% 5% 8% 11% Customer Satisfaction 15% 16% 17% 11% 23% 14% Key Sales Objectives or Milestones 34% 41% 34% 33% 34% 31% Other 18% 22% 14% 19% 15% 12% 7 Figure 5: Number of performance measures included in a sales plan by the type of sales roles. Number of performance measures: Blended New and Existing Accounts Seller (n=316) 12% 28% 34% 26% First-Line Sales Manager (n=273) 10% 29% 34% 27% Existing Accounts Seller (n=171) 6% 32% 37% 25% New Account Seller (n=158) 9% 30% 36% 25% Inbound Telesales (n=155) 8% 25% 35% 32% Outbound Telesales (n=153) 8% 28% 36% 27% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Figure 6: Please indicate how performance is measured for your primary sales roles on an individual basis, on a team basis, or both. (n varies) Individual performance Team performance Both individual and team performance Blended New and Existing Accounts Seller 67% 7% 35% First-Line Sales Manager 19% 42% 48% Existing Accounts Seller 73% 10% 32% New Account Seller 80% 7% 24% Inbound Telesales 53% 11% 41% Outbound Telesales 64% 7% 31% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 8 Your 2010 Plan Figure 7: Did you revise your sales compensation plan this year to include meaningful changes such as changes in measures, eligibility, mix, leverage, weights, etc.? (n= 361) No 55% Yes 46% 2010 was the first year in historical reference that more organizations chose not to revise their organizations sales plan (55%) than chose to revise their sales plans. See Figure 8 for the trend line. Figure 8: Changes to the sales compensation plan, a 5-year overview: Does your organization plan to change the sales compensation plan this year to include meaningful changes such as changes in measures, eligibility, mix, leverage, weights, etc.? 1 80% 73% 70% Yes No 65% 64% 60% 55% 40% 27% 30% 35% 36% 46% 20% 0% The difference between 2009 organizations that revised sales compensation plans (64%) and 2010 organizations that revised sales compensation plans (46%) is statistically significantly. Statistical comparison testing was not conducted between any other years. 9 Figure 9: If you revised your sales compensation plan this year, which of the following statements best describes the reason you made changes? (Check all that apply.) (n= 162) Only participants who answered Yes in Figure 6 received this question. Option Percent To improve alignment between sales incentive pay and business strategy 79% Changed performance measures more emphasis placed on business development, winning new business, selling new products, etc. To decrease plan complexity, e.g., reduced number of performance measures, simplified incentive formula, etc. 35% 35% Changed performance measures more emphasis placed on sales profitability 29% To remain competitive in the market for top sales talent 28% Incentive opportunity improved for overachieving plan, e.g., making overachievement financially appealing to top performers Improved compensation mix to be more incentive focused, e.g., increasing incentive opportunities for achieving target performance and decreasing base To reduce costs 9% To improve incentive earnings potential, e.g., reduced minimum performance threshold To make more jobs eligible for sales incentive pay 6% Revised compensation mix to be less incentive focused, e.g., incentive opportunity decreased for achieving target performance and increasing base To make fewer jobs eligible for sales incentive pay 4% Other 7% 25% 20% 9% 5% Similarly in 2009, respondents who revised their sales plan also cited the primary reason as To improve alignment between sales incentive pay and business strategy. However, this was only 26% in 2009. 10 Figure 10: Top 5 reasons selected for this change to the sales compensation plan, a 3- year overview: Option Difference 2009 to 2010 To improve alignment between sales incentive pay and business strategy 82% 74% 79% +5% Changed performance measures more emphasis placed on business development, winning new business, selling 25% 35% 35% 0% new products, etc. To decrease plan complexity, e.g., reduced number of performance measures, simplified incentive formula, etc. 37% 37% 35% -2% Changed performance measures more emphasis placed on sales profitability 22% 35% 29% -6% To remain competitive in the market for top sales talent 26% 19% 28% +9% Figure 11: Does your organization plan to revise its sales compensation plan for 2011 to include meaningful changes such as changes in measures, eligibility, mix, leverage, weights, etc.? (n= 382) No 49% Yes 51% In 2009, 62% of organizations reported planning to make a change to their sales compensation plan in Of organizations that said they made meaningful changes to the current sales compensation plan (45%, figure 6), 61% 3 of those organizations stated that they also planned to revise their sales compensation plan for The difference between 2009 organizations that planed to revise the sales compensation plan for 2010 (62%) and 2010 organizations that plan to revise the sales compensation plan for 2011 (49%) is statistically significantly. 3 Organizations that revised their sales plan in 2010 were statistically significantly more likely to report that they planned to make changes to their sales plan in 2011 than those who did not revise the 2010 sales plan. 11 Figure 12: Which of the following statements best describes the reason your organization plans to revise next year s sales plan? (Check all that apply.) (n= 194) Only participants who answered Yes in Figure 8 received this question. Option Percent To improve alignment between sales incentive pay and business strategy 83% Change performance measures more emphasis placed on sales profitability 41% Change performance measures more emphasis placed on business development, winning new business, selling new products, etc. 36% To remain competitive in the market for top sales talent 35% To decrease plan complexity, e.g., reduced number of performance measures, simplified incentive formula, etc. To improve compensation mix to be more incentive focused, e.g., increasing incentive opportunities for achieving target performance and decreasing base To improve incentive opportunity for overachieving plan, e.g., making overachievement financially appealing to top performers 32% 27% 20% To reduce costs 13% To improve incentive earnings potential, e.g., reduced minimum performance threshold To make more jobs eligible for sales incentive pay 7% To revise compensation mix to be less incentive focused, e.g., incentive opportunity decreased for achieving target performance and increasing base To make fewer jobs eligible for sales incentive pay 2% Other 6% 7% 5% Figure 13: Select reasons for a change to the upcoming sales compensation plan, a 3- year overview: Option Difference 2009 to 2010 To improve alignment between sales incentive pay and business strategy 74% 84% 83% -1% To decrease plan complexity (e.g., reduced number of performance measures, simplified incentive formula, etc.) 37% 42% 32% -10% To change performance measures and place more emphasis on sales profitability 35% 40% 41% +1% To remain competitive in the market for top sales talent 19% 30% 35% +5% 12 Sales Compensation Policy and Practice Figure 14: Plan philosophy and documentation Does your organization have a documented sales compensation philosophy? (n= 382) Does your organization have documented policy guidelines that govern the process, the manner and the frequency with which your sales compensation plan is reviewed? (n= 381) Do you have a formal plan document that details the governing terms and conditions for your sales plan? (n= 381) Yes No Documented sales compensation philosophy 44% 56% Documented policy guidelines that govern the process, the manner and the frequency with which your sales compensation plan is reviewed 48% 53% Formal plan documenting the governing terms and conditions for your sales plan 78% 22% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Figure 15: How has the current business environment affected sales compensation plan design at your company? (Check all that apply.) (n= 366) Option Percent The economy has had no affect on our sales compensation plans 39% Reduced quotas/sales goals 24% More aggressive over-achievement incentive rates 16% Lowered where we start to pay incentives (threshold performance) 14% Adjusted pay mix more aggressive 12% Shortened the performance measurement period, e.g., from annual to quarterly) Adjusted pay mix less aggressive 5% Shortened the quota/goal-setting time horizon, e.g., from annual to quarterly) Other, please describe 11% 6% 5% 13 Figure 16: Which statement best describes your Board of Director s involvement with sales compensation in your organization? (n= 372) Not involved 46% Moderately involved Not applicable/don t know Actively involved 11% 17% 24% Other 3% 0% 20% 40% 60% Figure 17: Which statement best describes the change in your Board of Director s involvement with sales compensation in your organization? (n= 372) No change 61% Not applicable/don t know Moderate increase in BOD involvement Substantial increase in BOD involvement Other 22% 12% 4% 2% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 14 Figure 18: In your organization, which of these stakeholders has ultimate approval authority for a change to the sales compensation plan? (n= 373) Corporate President or CEO 46% Top sales executive Division or Business Unit General Manager Board of
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