Rough Seas Against a Pier

Importance of Investing in Your Compensation Strategy During a Downturn

There has been a lot of speculation across headlines that a possible recession or an economic downturn is on the way. As 2022 continues, inflation and its effects across industries seem ever-present. For the sales departments, staff retention continues to be a cause for concern. As companies become less able to spend due to high prices, challenges in selling may lead to your sales force leaving for other industries or lines of work. One of the worst things that can happen to your business is to lose the sales team you have spent time and effort investing in. If your company is left high and dry, a recession will hit you that much harder. How do you retain your sales team during these hard times?

Here are 4 tips to strengthen your sales strategies and compensation plans, to keep your sales force happy and productive regardless of the economic climate.

  1. Quota Adjustments- what are you rewarding?

Traditionally, quotas are based on performance against sales targets. But during times of inflation, recession, and downturns this can become a pitfall. Your reps may have trouble closing deals, through no fault of their own, as your clients are skittish to purchase goods and balk at inflated prices. If no one is buying and sales reps can’t meet their quotas, they may feel pushed to look for other opportunities. To create engagement and a sense of accomplishment, consider rewarding milestones other than closed deals such as contacts or connections made, and initial meetings with potential clients. This incentivizes reps to still track down prospective clients and create relationships that could lead to potential sales in the future.

2. Timing of Payments- how often do you reward your team?

Traditionally, incentive compensation is paid out about twice a year. During recessions, your reps are being hit too, worrying about their bills as the cost of products rise. With compensation payouts so far apart, they may get anxious waiting until their next payment.  Consider breaking up this schedule during a downturn. This allows your team to know what they are being paid sooner, so it doesn’t feel far off.  If they feel payment is closer on the horizon, they will be incentivized to remain with your business and keep selling.

3. Invest in Marketing- back up your sales team

Sellers need every advantage they can get the more difficult selling becomes. Marketing efforts can make a big difference here, creating brand recognition and equity. Getting your company’s foot in the door can be everything, ensuring that the first conversation goes smoothly will allow your sellers to have an easier time in meetings and build better rapport with prospective clients. The leads that marketing efforts can develop for your reps is crucial to provide enough meat for your sales teams to work with. It is critical that you build out a strong marketing effort before and during times of crisis

4. Where are you selling? Focus on key markets

Scouting beforehand on the business and industry can help you go from a shotgun to a sniper approach. Certain industries are hit harder by a recession, do you spend valuable time selling there where they may not bite? Do you focus on smaller companies that may be floundering or pay attention to more established ones more likely to weather the storm? Maximize your effort and productivity by not wasting time on prospects unlikely to result in a sale.  In times of difficulty direct sales reps to the most likely of deals.

                Making all these changes may seem daunting, especially in times when  you are already struggling. But these changes are necessary, you don’t want your team to leave you high and dry as selling becomes more difficult. History has shown that being able to pivot in periods of economic instability leads to success and supporting your organization with an SPM platform that allows you to pivot as needed. You gain increased flexibility in quotas and compensation plan management and are able to change them quickly and effectively. You gain visibility and accuracy in payments and can easily change their timings. You can act quickly on leads, using marketing analytics to determine plan changes and desired territories to target. It allows for fluid and intuitive target identification and rep management, allowing you to shift territories across your business.  Protect your sales team and business with the power and flexibility of an SPM solution during the next downturn or recession.

                To learn more about SPM and how it can be utilized to bolster sales efforts, reach out to our experts.

Woman Depressed Over Inflation

How to Combat Inflation in the Sales Environment

Inflation is on the rise in the US, and we are all seeing the price of goods and services increase. During inflation, your costs are going up, and naturally, you will have to offset increased costs with increased price of your own products and services. This may negatively influence your customer base. At this time, it would be critical to retain and better compensate your sales reps in an inflated economy.  So how do you protect your bottom line? Some ideas that can work are as follows:

  1. Basing comp plans on margins versus revenue

In times of inflation, your sales reps may be forced to offer discounts in order to get the sale across the finish line. If you pay your salespeople on the margins, they will work harder to keep that margin and will drive investment in your business. Giving them this greater transparency into what your margins are will create greater trust for your organization.

2. Bonus structure and other incentives

Salespeople love recognition, competition, and being paid for performance. They engage with contests and awards, and it gets them invested in your company. In this volatile market, it is critical to invest in your people. Consider non-cash incentives, rewards, and recognition when adjusting your comp plans.

3. Utilizing an agile sales comp management system

Having a system ready from the start that is flexible for changes will allow you to pivot to protect your business needs in changing times. Legacy homegrown systems are rigid and require a lot of time and effort to implement change. Instead of being held hostage by your system in times of crisis, invest in a modern, flexible solution that can change with your needs.

Smart organizations use all the help they can get in being prepared to navigate uncertain times. They find strategies to pivot and adapt that not only help them survive but also thrive in such times. A sales performance management (SPM) system can provide a holistic and cohesive solution to develop and manage these strategies for change.

Pencil Sketch of People Over Integrated Box Chart

Who on the Sales Team Deserves the Biggest Piece of the Pie?

When you have a well oiled-sales team, it can be difficult to determine who deserves the most reward when a deal is completed. If everyone is performing their function to the letter, who should receive the most compensation? Should it be spread evenly across different roles? To make matters worse, different markets and businesses conduct sales differently and have unique jobs and goals. This all muddles the decision, do you reward the initial rep, the manager who oversaw the process, or the sales tech who made the deal possible?

Obviously, all these roles deserve some amount of compensation, but where you give the most compensation reveals where you see the most influence in your sales team. Is your team a group of equals, or does it contain standout workers who make the whole process possible? The goal here is obviously to reward effort, as no matter what the goal is always to hit sales targets. Balance is key, if you reward managers too heavily, sales reps will feel snubbed. Focusing entirely on the sales team may not properly motivate your managers. The more complex your business will only add to these levels of strain. Any given business may contain groups who make initial calls, service agents, writing agents, salesmen, and executives. Which is more valuable, the member who started the deal or the one who closed it? You want to give the biggest piece of the pie to your members with the most influence, but defining those workers is never easy.

The greatest solution to this conundrum is to maintain flexibility over your compensation plans. You must be able to identify any number of aspects that are affecting your team’s performance. Identifying standout actors, as well as reviewing your sales process, and finding the points of greatest impact. Moreover, this cannot exist in a state where your compensation plans are up in the air, you must have exact knowledge of who is getting what, and why. Performance tracking and compensation knowledge are all possible with the aid of an ICM solution, and these are only a small portion of the benefits one may bring. At the end of the day, there is no better way to manage your team than by knowing them inside and out and having a critical understanding of why your business works.