Why am I not on the Sales Incentive Plan?

Why am I not on the Sales Incentive Plan?

When I was working in the IT industry, there was a lot of talk about the sales population. Obviously, their success was central to that of the organisation, and given the complexity of the products and solutions, the scale of some of the contracts, and the competition in the marketplace, my employers were looking at every angle when trying to keep the salesforce engaged, motivated and performing.

All sections of HR were involved, and Compensation & Benefits played its part obviously. We were checking many elements, from the types of objectives to be set to the calculation mechanisms and the consistency of the payment cycle with the sales cycle. Given the high ratios of variable pay to fixed pay in the industry, and the also high multipliers in case of overachievement, the potential total pay was significantly higher than the guaranteed, monthly pay.

So one of the most regular topics of discussion was : ” Who should be eligible to the Sales Incentive Plan ?”. Many parts of the organisation were trying to be enrolled in the SIP, or at least to a “light” version of it where the on-target bonus was higher than the regular, corporate bonus. Marketing, pre-sales support, on-site/maintenance ntechnicians, phone and internet customer service reps, even sometimes the Finance team in charge of calculating the quota achievement…. They all, at some point, tried and/or managed to get enrolled in some form of SIP.

The criteria we used were simple yet effective :

  • Look at the specific role not the whole job family and ensure the job description has been vetted by the top management
  • Is the role directly responsible for generating revenue (closing sales contracts) ?
  • Is the role the main decision-maker in the sales negotiation cycle with the client ?
  • What is the % of time spent by the role on revenue-generating activities ?
  • Can we track or measure the revenue generated by theat specific role ?

Put together in some form of decision-tree, the answers to these questions helped us determine whether the role was considered a direct or indirect sales position (or not at all), and the ratio of fixed and variable pay. It allowed us to decide whether Product Marketing, for instance, would be eligible to some form of sales incentive. In some companies yes, in some companies no. It depends on your structure, strategy and culture.

Whenever you design an incentive, putting in place some criteria to determine eligibility will help you not only design the incentive, but also communicate about it, and maintain control about who gets what. Try to also discuss these criteria with other constituents as you may get some very relevant feedback, and will also come out with some ideas of the questions that employees and managers will ask… and the answers you can give them.


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  1. Khaled Ahmadain says

    Hi Sandrine

    This is pretty typical of what is happening in my organisation – bang on! Everyone would like to join the SIP if they just ‘touched’ the sales process! I am glad that the criteria you have outlined for SIP eligibility do reflect my thought process as well as the argument I had with line managers who wanted to ‘drag’ their sales support staff into the SIP. I ended up creating a special bonus programme for technical sales/pre-sales support teams that sits in the middle between the SIP and the standard staff bonus scheme, and which you have smartly described as ‘light version’ of the SIP.

    • Your responses on my Sales Incentives articles show that you have a great mastery of the discipline Khaled !

      • Khalid Ahmadain says

        Thanks so much Sandrine for your kind and reassuring replies to my comments. We learn from credible experts like you – thanks again very much and please keep this wonderful blog running and active.


  1. […] the bottom up ie define, first, what a sales role was for an individual contributor. We would use a simple decision-tree approach to Sales Incentive eligibility that I described in a recent […]

  2. […] Why amI not on the Sales Incentive Plan ? […]

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