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Overseeing a growing sales team is exciting, but it is not easy. Managing the backend logistics of scaling a complex compensation incentive plan design is not for the faint of heart. There is no room for error regarding something as important as your sales team's compensation, meaning your change management process must be robust to prevent growing pains. 

At Canidium, our team of incentive compensation management (ICM) solution experts help clients design scalable tools to automate outdated manual processes. We educate our clients on the tools available, allowing them to determine whether or not they need a new ICM solution. 

To help you understand ahead of time if your current incentive compensation plan design will scale up successfully—and how to design a system that does—this guide covers the following topics: 

 

What Does Scaling Your Sales Incentive Compensation Plan Mean?

We all know the broad strokes of scaling a business: ramping up operations, expanding into new markets, augmenting your internal teams, or any number of alternative growth initiatives. However, this overarching understanding does not suffice for compensation administrators overseeing the background change management processes that facilitate scaling.

If your business intends to scale up operations, you must adjust your incentive compensation plan design. However, first, you need to understand what scaling comp admin processes means on a granular level.

In your role as a comp admin, scaling involves altering your incentive compensation plans to maintain or enhance productivity and effectiveness. This process can mean dealing with a higher volume of transactions and payments, accommodating a growing number of employees, or managing the intricacies of a multinational operation with diverse and region-specific compensation strategies.

Here are the four most prominent forms of incentive compensation plan scaling you may encounter:

 

What does scaling your sales incentive compensation plan mean

 

1. Increasing Your Sales Volume

In the context of scaling, increasing your sales volume isn't just about pushing for more sales; it's about ensuring that your incentive compensation system can accommodate this growth without faltering. As sales volumes rise, the pressure on your compensation plan intensifies, requiring the system to handle more transactions, distribute rewards more frequently, and maintain accuracy and fairness in compensation. 

A scalable system needs to be robust and capable of efficiently managing large volumes of data and transactions. This involves technological capacity and strategic foresight in plan design to ensure that incentives continue to drive the desired sales behaviors. Increased sales volumes should lead to increased motivation and compensation for your sales force without placing undue strain on your administrative resources. Ensuring your processes can scale this way helps prevent bottlenecks and maintains morale and productivity among your sales teams.

 

2. Onboarding a Larger Workforce

While this may be the first time you have personally scaled an incentive compensation plan design, you are not alone. With 58% of companies increasing the size of their sales teams, many comp admins have to adjust their plans to accommodate active business growth. This shared challenge means there are already established best practices you can follow to ensure your compensation structures and incentives continue to maximize your organizational potential at scale.

One of the biggest scaling challenges comp admins face is smoothly managing the influx of new sales team members. Your processes must scale to accommodate the sheer number of new hires and align these new employees with the company's overall compensation philosophy and objectives. Effective scaling means ensuring that new hires are motivated by their targets and rewards from day one and seamlessly integrated into a system that supports their success and growth. This process often involves revising quota settings and compensation thresholds to ensure equity across old and new team members and potentially introducing tiered compensation levels or regional variations that reflect the diverse roles and markets into which these new employees are hired.

 

3. Diversifying Your Incentive Compensation Plan Design

Diversifying your incentive compensation plan as part of a scaling strategy involves developing a framework that can adapt to different regions and markets' varied and specific needs. As businesses expand internationally, they encounter new market dynamics, customer behaviors, and sales strategies. In other words, effective territory and quota management is a top priority in scaling compensation plans. 

One survey found that correct goal/quota setting is companies' foremost sales challenge, with 59% of respondents reporting it as an issue. To avoid being a part of this statistic, you must diversify your incentive compensation plans as your company scales.

Decentralized and diversified plans can require a different approach to incentive compensation. For instance, sales teams in different countries might be segmented by various criteria, such as geographic location or industry type, each with its challenges and opportunities. 

Therefore, a scalable incentive compensation management plan must offer the flexibility to create and manage diverse incentive structures tailored to these unique conditions but still aligned with the company's overarching strategy. This might involve implementing different metrics for success, varied compensation formulas, or customized incentive structures that resonate with local sales team dynamics while still driving global objectives.

 

4. Optimizing Your Incentive Comp Structures During Acquisitions and Consolidations

Optimizing incentive compensation structures during acquisitions and consolidations is a critical scaling component. Companies merging or acquiring others often inherit a mix of compensation plans and philosophies. Integrating these into a cohesive system supporting unified business goals is a complex but essential task. 

This process often requires a complete evaluation of existing compensation structures to identify commonalities and differences and then design a system that harmonizes these elements. The goal is to create a unified incentive plan that motivates employees across all entities, aligns with the strategic objectives of the newly formed organization, and operates efficiently at a larger scale. Achieving this ideal may involve standardizing compensation practices where appropriate or maintaining certain unique incentives critical to specific business units. The challenge lies in balancing uniformity and customization, ensuring all personnel feel valued and motivated within the new corporate structure while driving collective success.

 

The Tools You Need to Scale Your Incentive Compensation Plan Design

Out of a survey of top-performing companies, 90% use incentives and rewards to motivate their sales teams. To be at the forefront of your market, you must give your sales team a reason to outperform your competition. However, it is impossible at scale to manually manage the complex compensation structures and incentives required to effectively motivate different sales teams with diverse priorities. 

Enterprise or mid-level operations must have incentive compensation management tools to augment their administrative capabilities. These tools streamline administrative processes and ensure accurate and fair compensation, motivating sales teams to excel. 

Various potential incentive compensation tools are available for growing organizations—each with unique advantages and drawbacks. Choosing the right solution is paramount. You need an incentive compensation management tool with the flexibility, security, features, and functionality to support scalable planning. 

Selecting the most effective option largely depends on your business's circumstances, goals, and market influences. The best way to determine which tool is right for you is to consult an unbiased third-party expert directly. However, you can begin to decide which tools your organization should implement by understanding the following key scalable features:

 

The tools you need to scale your incentive compensation plan design

 

Enhanced Incentive Compensation Planning Platform Flexibility

Your incentive compensation planning platform must offer exceptional flexibility to effectively address the varied needs of a global sales force. This flexibility allows for tailoring compensation plans to fit different market dynamics and sales strategies specific to each region or product line. A flexible platform can accommodate changes in sales strategies without requiring extensive overhauls, enabling quick adaptations to market shifts or strategic pivots.

Additionally, such platforms support various compensation frameworks—from commission-based to milestone-driven incentives—ensuring that every sales team member is motivated in a way that aligns with their personal goals and the company's objectives. The ability to configure and customize these settings ensures that the compensation plans remain relevant and effective, even as your business scales.

 

Increased Sales Compensation Management Security

As incentive plans become more complex and cover more geographical areas, the security of compensation data becomes a paramount concern. A robust incentive compensation management tool must provide advanced security features that protect sensitive information against unauthorized access and potential breaches. This involves secure login protocols, data encryption, and role-based access controls that ensure information is only accessible to authorized personnel. Enhanced security measures are vital not only for protecting the integrity of the data but also for complying with international data protection regulations, which vary significantly across different regions. 

 

Intuitive Incentive Administration Features and Functions

Sales reps only spend 28% of their time selling. Since many sales representatives spend a limited portion of their time selling, reducing administrative burdens can significantly boost their productivity and effectiveness. 

Features such as automated performance tracking, real-time compensation calculation, and easy access to incentive dashboards allow sales teams and managers to focus more on achieving sales targets rather than navigating cumbersome administrative processes. The simplicity of use encourages adoption and compliance across all levels of the organization, ensuring that incentive programs are executed efficiently and effectively.

At the same time, the ability to manage incentive compensation in multiple currencies and languages is essential for organizations operating on a global scale. Incentive solutions such as SAP SuccessFactors Incentive Management (SFIM) offer multi-currency and language features to facilitate global operations for enterprise-level companies. 

This functionality ensures that the compensation management system is adaptable and relevant across different countries, accommodating local customs, currencies, and languages without any barriers. Multi-currency support eliminates the complexities of currency conversion. At the same time, multi-language capabilities ensure that all members of the global sales team can access the system in their native language, enhancing understanding and engagement with the incentive schemes. These features are critical for maintaining a cohesive, motivated workforce across diverse locations.

 

Built-In Automation and Integration Capabilities

Automation in incentive compensation management helps eliminate manual, repetitive tasks, reducing the potential for errors and increasing efficiency. Automated systems can handle large volumes of transactions and data, ensuring accuracy in calculating and distributing incentives. 

At the same time, integrating your incentive compensation system with other business software, such as CRM and ERP systems, enables seamless data flow and a holistic view of sales operations. This integration provides a more comprehensive analysis of sales performance and more effective management of compensation plans. 

By automating and integrating key processes, you can scale your comp plan design smoothly, ensuring that sales performance remains high as the company grows.

 

Download this compelling case study showcasing 3 different outcomes of ICM solution implementations:

 

 

How to Design Scalable Incentive Compensation Plans

While choosing the right incentive compensation management solution is a vital component of scaling, so is selecting a software implementation partner. Your choice of implementation partner is just as important as the compensation plan design tool you use. 

Sophisticated and scalable incentive compensation plan design software does not work out of the box. You need a team of solution experts to design and configure the software to meet the needs of your existing system's intricacies and future growth goals. 

Here are some pivotal reasons why your software implementation partner is critical to scalability:

 

How your software implementation partner designs a scalable incentive compensation management planning tool

 

Expertise in Automation and Configuration

A skilled implementation partner brings indispensable expertise in automating and customizing the software to fit your business needs. Automation is crucial for managing tasks that would otherwise require extensive manual effort, such as updating user permissions or processing transactions. Software vendors are designing solutions for widespread use. They cannot account for all the specific automation features you may need. At scale, a lack of configured workflows can significantly impede efficiency, burdening comp admins with time-consuming and repetitive manual processes that an implementation partner could easily automate. 

For instance, in scenarios where a company experiences significant growth, manual processes like adding hundreds of new users to a portal can become unwieldy. Imagine manually clicking "accept new user" thousands of times daily because your system is not configured to do it for you. An experienced partner can automate these processes, allowing for seamless scalability and reducing the burden on your administrative staff. 

 

Strategic Insight into System Capabilities

Implementation partners provide more than just technical support; they offer strategic insights to help you anticipate and mitigate potential challenges as your organization grows. Your implementation team is experienced in seeing beyond the initial software setup, understanding how the system will need to adapt to future business changes, and identifying what functionalities will be most beneficial as your company scales. 

This foresight is invaluable in ensuring that your incentive compensation plans remain robust and effective, regardless of how large your company becomes.

 

Long-Term Support and Adaptation

Lastly, a quality implementation partner offers ongoing support and adaptation services that are vital as your business evolves. This includes regular updates, training new users, and continuously improving system functionalities to meet changing business needs. Effective long-term support ensures that your incentive compensation system scales with your business and maintains its effectiveness and reliability over time.

Of course, the goal is to become self-sufficient rather than maintaining reliance on a third party. However, you will need initial training and maintenance support from system experts to achieve this independence.

 

Establishing a Scalable Incentive Compensation Plan Design

Scaling your sales incentive compensation plan is essential as your business grows. It requires a strategic approach to managing increased transaction volumes and a diverse, multinational workforce. Successful scaling ensures the system can handle increased loads while driving desired sales behaviors, motivating your sales force without overburdening administrative resources.

Key aspects of effective scaling include smoothly integrating new employees, as most companies are expanding their sales teams. This requires adaptive compensation structures that align new hires with company goals from the outset. Diversifying incentive plans is also crucial as you enter new markets, necessitating tailored approaches to accommodate regional strategies and customer behaviors.

Implementing the right tools and choosing a competent implementation partner is vital. These tools should enhance administrative capabilities, ensure security, and provide flexibility for your incentive schemes. A capable partner helps set up the system and offers ongoing support and strategic insights, ensuring your compensation plans remain effective and aligned with your business's growth and changing needs.

Now that you understand how to scale your incentive compensation plan and the tools you need, your next step is to discover how to form your internal solution implementation team.

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