Best in Class Sales Organizations communicate exhaustively about goals & goal alignment. For sales teams, much of this communication is memorialized in the Plan Document.
A plan document (also referred to as a ‘Sales Letter’ or ‘Goal Sheet’) is an agreement between a supervisor and a plan participant covering the participant’s compensation plan. It commonly includes the key performance measures for which they are eligible to make commissions, the performance targets (Goals), eligibility & crediting policies & rules amongst many other elements. While our focus today is not to highlight every dimension that a formal Plan Document may include, it does reference several of those elements that are prone to change and drive the need for transparency & collaboration.
The Four Best Practices with respect to Sales Comp Plan Transparency & Collaboration include:
Best Practice #1 - Transparency
The goal of circulating the plan document is to clearly document the sales performance plan by which success will be judged and rewarded. This includes a clear description in fine detail of each of the following key points:
- Key performance measures
- Scope of responsibility (Territory)
- Goals that align to each Performance Measure (Quota)
- Reward structure for each Performance Measure (performance ranges & payout rates).
Plan documents should be accessible with full availability with full access to historical documentation.
Note: Every time a key variable changes (such as quota), everyone affected should be notified of the changes and an updated plan document should be regenerated and circulated as soon as is practical for further review and comment.
Best Practice #2 - Collaboration
The sales team should have the ability to review, question and comment on the sales comp plan whenever they have an issue that needs clarification. The Sales Performance management process revolves around communication and goal alignment and collaborating on goals, responsibilities and rewards is one of the best techniques for building energy around corporate strategy and goals.
Best Practice #3 - Auditability
Audit logs that memorialize the plan as of any effective date (they are bound to shift over time) are vital if the objective of true transparency is to be met. All communication related to the plan document & approvals should be supported by a full history and audit logs.
Best Practice #4 - Workflow
Provide a centralized process for the date effective tracking and controlling the sales plan approvals. Sales Compensation Plans require written approval from both the Participant and the Supervisor/company representative. A centralized process ensures that proper attention and controls are in place to support the process of plan communication, review and collaboration. Advanced systems provide participants with role based dashboards so activity can be tracked and flagged for follow up and discussion.
The role of technology:
Companies striving to embrace Best Practices for Sales Plan Transparency & Collaboration but lack technology to streamline and automate the process often get bogged down when it comes to executing on this vision. Manual processes aimed at keeping track of communication surrounding plan changes, territory & quota adjustments can be simply overwhelming for an individual to administer. Furthermore, many of the technologies that manual processes depend on such as spreadsheets simply do not support tracking changes over time in a scalable & auditable manner. Leveraging technology, such as the stand alone NetCommissions Sales Plans Module, is one way to centralize the process and leverage world class automation to execute this process in a timely and accurate manner, with complete audit logs supporting all compliance needs you may have.