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Reaffirming Compensation Principles - Takeaways from Modern Sales Pros Webinar

Compensation plans are designed to motivate and drive your sales teams towards peak performance.  You spend hours contemplating what metrics to include, what behaviors you aim to elicit, and balance the culture you want for your teams.

As companies deal with the impacts of the current economic environment, it's more important than ever to consider compensation, both to drive the right behavior and to ensure companies are "getting what they pay for". Modern Sales Pros, a networking group for sales professionals, hosted a Webinar featuring the CEO of Spiff on what you need to do to keep your sales teams driving …even during a global pandemic.  In our experience revamping compensation, there is a lot of waste in compensation plans. Frequently some people are overpaid, and others could be doing more with a dialed-in comp plan. The ROI on investment in reviewing your compensation is enormous. Here are a few main takeaways that hit home to help you navigate compensation:

B2B eCommerce: Win-Win Compensation Plan | Handshake Webinar

  • Do not react emotionally. Observe and learn from what is happening around you.

The desire to “hit to the panic button” is natural. However, just like anything else, being reactionary is never the right course of action. You may want to minimize extraneous costs, reign in the team’s actions, or control for new factors and that is even more true in times of uncertainty; however, in times of change, external or internally generated, there is an opportunity to create a new normal. By stepping out to establish a new strategy, you set a new tone for your team and establish your new normal. Our advice - see this as an opportunity for you and your team to grow stronger together. Get your team’s buy-in and know you will need to adjust. To start, engage with your sales team to understand what they are hearing from their contacts, and bring them into the discussion on what KPIs could be targeted. Use this information to figure out where the gaps are and identify the new opportunities. In our experience, you should expect them to be small and somewhat vague, but they are there.  Know that you will have to review - especially if there’s a major event like Coronavirus. A new comp plan needs to get in the wild to measure the results. In 1-3 months, go through the exercise again and make refinements, not wholesale changes. 

  • Adapt and Set Timelines

You may feel the pull of doing something right, and doing something right now. During a crisis, you do not have the luxury of receiving consistent numbers from your established target metrics, so you may need to take more time to develop your long term plan. There are opportunities today, and the easiest way to drive the short term is to introduce a spiff.  A spiff is an immediate bonus that forces new behaviors from your salespeople for a short targeted period of time to hit an ad-hoc compensation variable. Our advice - spiffs can show huge ROI and the time is ripe for one. An example from the call, you want to retain the customers that you have, so you pivot your sales team to focus on a spiff centered on a customer retention rate. Spiffs are pretty straight forward, and similar to the process above. Work with the sales team to identify opportunities, and then set what the measurement is, and tie in the comp - perhaps a flat bonus amount to help with fixed costs. Two keys to success for a spiff: remember to account for the current reality so focus on what your people can control now, and always remember to follow this up with coaching

  • Communicate to Your Team

In our projects, change management is the most critical part of anything you do with your business. When you do this on your own, you have to invest that energy as well. By engaging your sales team from the beginning, during the first phase of observation and data gathering, you planted the seed for their buy-in.  They, without much awareness, helped you get to where you wanted them to be. Now it’s on you to bring the new plan over the finish line. Your objective is to level set the team’s understanding of the purpose, reason, and timeline of the new spiff or temporary compensation plan. Provide them with simple scenarios to demonstrate in short order how the spiff will be calculated and what the resulting bonus will be. Remember, the openness of your message will foster buy-in from your team, bolster the meaning of the spiff, and boost the morale of your entire organization.

In the end, you have the opportunity to turn a global pandemic into a win for your organization and your most vital asset - your people.  The right investment in compensation plans pay enormous dividends. Done correctly, an investment in compensation helps you pay people for the work each is doing, and getting more out of the folks who really drive revenue. 

As the premiere firm serving transportation providers, shippers, and technology companies in the logistics space,  CarrierDirect is uniquely situated to help you work through the challenges. We understand the nuances of your business, your challenges, and what your employees want. To start a conversation about this topic, or others, feel free to reach out to Kyle Mlakar ( or Ryan Schreiber (

Ryan Schreiber
Ryan Schreiber
Ryan has lived his career at the intersection of transportation and technology. As CarrierDirect’s Director of Engagement, Ryan works with clients on challenging the status quo while respecting the challenges both businesses and individuals face through change. Before joining CarrierDirect, Ryan has started multiple businesses in the industry and brings that experience to bear in attacking the problems transportation providers face navigating the barriers faced in building the future of their businesses.

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