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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Design'>Design</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Inside salespeople'>Inside salespeople</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales compensation'>Sales compensation</a>
Talent & Recruitment
Aug 1, 2009 | Neil Bishop lock

Great salespeople are an asset to any organization, every company wants them and when you recruit a good sales professional you need to retain them. An important part of the attraction and retention package for sales professionals is the compensation package. The best sales professionals know that they will achieve a lot for you so they want to know what their rewards will be in return. 

There are a number of myths and legends associated with sales compensation and I have identified the most common so you can dispose of the myths and keep the wisdom.

 1.  “You have to keep base pay low in order to keep the sales team hungry”
Not true, low base pay will just attract inferior candidates. Your best sales professionals will always more than pay back their costs, so don’t undercut on the base pay. Therefore, your strategy should be to keep up with the market rate.

To determine what is the right market rate, it is essential to get good salary survey information rather than rely on anecdotal information or experience of one or two recruitment campaigns.

2.  “What gets paid bonus gets done”
Definitely true, so design of sales bonus or commission schemes is very important. The sales bonus scheme has a profound effect on your sales team behaviour. The design of sales bonuses can have a dynamic effect on sales productivity or can lead to dysfunctional sales behaviour ranging from over aggression to lack of follow-up.

It is essential that the design of your sales incentive package is right for your business, your product or service at this time. An idea that works in another business may be wholly inappropriate for your business at this time.

To determine the exact incentive structure for your business, you need to work with a specialist compensation consultant, who can take you through the process of determining your needs and what you can afford to put into your sales incentive structure.

 3.  “You shouldn’t change your incentive scheme until you need to”
Not true, the best incentive schemes are those designs that are adaptable to change and modification. Sales people can get used to a commission or incentive structure and know how to work the system. Therefore, it is important to regularly review the way that your incentives are structured in order that they can be kept fresh, interesting and provide stimulus for your sales teams.

 4.  “Great sales people are born not made”
Total nonsense, there is no such race or ethnic group as sales, there are no special maternity wards for sales babies. In fact, some of the worst sales people are those who are called or think they are “natural salesmen”. These days those who are successful in sales have superior product and customer knowledge. They put together sales strategies, prioritize their customer targets and help their customers win by providing great service and support. All these skills have to be learned and even more important they have to be identified and rewarded.

By working with experienced compensation consultants you can identify the behaviours and skills in your sales team that you want to develop, encourage and reward. Your customers need and deserve sales professionals that are more than just “nice people”, they want your representatives to be able to help support and develop their business as a partner.

As markets become more and more competitive, sales and sales professionals have never been more important. They are the key to a successful business and deserve to have the most innovative arrangements in their compensation package.  

About the Author:

Nick Bishop, Practice Leader of the Wynford Group has contributed the short article “Designing Sales Compensation for Inside Sales Teams.  Nick can be reached at 1-877-264-5166 or by email at

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