4 Secrets to the Best-Gamed Plans

4 min read

Often, colleagues are surprised to learn that I accept and advocate gaming a company’s incentive compensation system. Now that many of them have read copies of my first book, Game the Plan: Every Sales Rep’s Dream; Every CFO’s Nightmare, many are even more surprised when they embrace the idea. Many don’t just want their sales reps to exploit loopholes in their incentives plans — but all of their employees, too. What my colleagues have learned is that gaming the system can actually create a win-win situation for the organization and its employees. Here are four important reminders before you begin to design your own best-gamed plans: 1. It’s not all about the money, honey… Although money is a great incentive, it’s not the ultimate one. Be sure to do your homework, and offer a competitive base salary and commission structure in general. Then, figure out what motivates your staff, specifically. As a general rule, people crave recognition. Beyond that, motivation often depends greatly on the generations from which members of your team hail. A Baby Boomer, for instance, is going to be excited by very different incentives than, say, a Millennial. Tweet this: It’s not all about the money, honey. What motivates your employees? 2…But then again, you SHOULD show them the money Don’t wait until the end of the month or quarter to pay your people. Instead, give them constant insight into their progress with tools like a “Show Me The Money” button on their incentive compensation platform. You can configure your data system to show reps how they’re doing at any given moment — from how many units they’ve sold, how close they are to reaching quota, and how much commission they could earn in certain situations. Most of the time, this extra information is all the motivation your team needs to keep pushing. Tweet this: The key to inspiring sales people? Show them the money! 3. Don’t forget to KISS and sell Keep it simple — seriously. If your incentive plan includes too many measures, your team will likely become confused and unfocused. Xactly’s empirical database, which includes terabytes of industry-specific best practices, shows that three measures are generally the most effective. Tweet this: Do you KISS and sell? 4. And at the end of day, you know what they say about Excel—it isn’t heaven If you’re using spreadsheets, and your competitors aren’t, you’re at a major disadvantage. Prone to error, spreadsheets simply can’t supply you with the single source of truth you need to make decisions that drive your company forward. According to CSO Insights’ 2010 Sales Compensation Performance report, 70 percent of companies using automated sales compensation systems report their plans drive precise selling behavior, as compared to 57 percent of companies that use manual or spreadsheet-based solutions. Tweet this: Slay the Spreadsheet, Seize the Strategy! ‘Gaming the plan’ really is a good thing. To learn more ways you can empower everyone in your company to win together, visit