Communicating The New Sales Compensation Plan Part 4: Get The Change Forecast


This is a continuation of our blog series, Designing Your 2018 Sales Compensation Plan. Want to begin at the beginning? Click here. 

In my last blogs I’ve written about communicating the sales compensation plan. Click to read about Start StrongCraft the Change Story; or See the Organization’s View.

Get the Change Forecast

Most executives we work with can make a general statement about their culture’s comfort with change. When preparing for implementation, though, it helps to be a little more specific. By answering the following four questions, you will be able to get a forecast of the upcoming change.We recommenderring on the side of considering a change major rather than minoras it’s always safer to over communicate.

  1. What is the degree of change for the organization? If you’re implementing a change to a piece of the sales compensation plan, say changing one performance measure, you may think of that as a minor change. If you’re implementing a new go-to-market strategy and the compensation plan change is part of that bigger change, you may think of that as transformational. Give your organization a score from 1(minor change) to 10 (major transformation).
  2. When was the last time your company changed the sales compensation plan? If you change the plan every year or two, you may call that a recent change. On the other end of the scale, the organization may not have changed the plan for ten or more years. Give your organization a score of 1(recently) to 10 (never).
  3. What is the organization’s tolerance for change? Even if the organization hasn’t had a new sales compensation in years, its culture may be dynamic and trusting while it makes changes to adjust to the market. However, your organization may not sit well with change, even if it happens frequently. Give your organization a score of 1 (very high) to 10 (very low).
  4. What is your management team’s resolve for change? While the sales organization has a tolerance for accepting change, the management team also has a resolve for making change. Test your resolve for when things get tough. Give your team a score of 1 (very high) to 10 (very low).

Your total score will give you a sense of your current environment, the likely near-term forecast for change, and potential actions you might take.

A Fortune 500 business services company we worked with went through a major change a few years ago. Theyhad acquired a number of companies, and the integration included a change in go-to-market strategy and a new incentive program.It was a positive step for the organization with lots of potential – a healthy quadrant one and quadrant three change story. But they had adamant resistors in some of the old guard in the acquired organizations. The resistors were in leadership positions and, because of their ownership stakes in the acquired companies, did very well financially. But when it came to making change, they did everything in their power to keep things like they were. After a period of time, this active resistance started to create stress on the organization which could have jeopardized the company’s success. One day, the C-level’s velvet hammer quietly came out,and the resistors just disappeared. It was a strong message that was reserved only for an extreme situation, but it ultimately enabled the organization and its shareholders to realize the benefits of a successful change.

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