Strategies for Designing a Competitive Account Executive Compensation Plan

May 17, 2019

In the current climate of growth-stage, B2B tech companies, attracting and retaining top talent is key for success. One way companies do this is with competitive compensation plans for employees. We asked five top sales and business operations leaders from Chicago about their tips on creating a competitive AE compensation plan. Here are their answers:

 

Peter Turim, Head of Sales at Trunk Club:  The best plans are simple, fair (to both sales team and company), and promote over-performance. It is also critical that your top sales reps are aligned to the overall business needs. Pay the most for what you need the most to drive dollars.

 

Justin Johnson, Director of Sales at DialogTech:  Show data points and context that help motivate the AE. Numbers without context are irrelevant. Helping them understand the path to maximize the comp plan is what will get them to buy into it and get them excited about it. This is especially helpful in a smaller sales organization that is trying to scale but may not yet have years of success under their belt.

 

George Eliopoulos, Head of Enterprise & SMB Sales at Braintree:  For our industry, there are two major components. First, recognize what the market actually offers on a total OTE basis for the type of talent you need. It's easy to forget that we are competing with massive banks and top-tier tech companies for talent. Those entities tend to have different types of plans than most of the tech world has.

 

The second item is to keep the plans simple and to have no more than 2-3 components, steering away from products sold. So, if revenue and profit are what really matter to your firm and are talked about with your board/shareholders, then comp the AEs on those two items and don't stop them for getting there in different ways.

 

Matt Bramson, VP of Enterprise Sales at Narrative Science:  Uncapped commission. If you are growing fast, the organization, top-to-bottom, has to be comfortable with the fact that sales people may be the most highly compensated employees.


Aaron Biggs, Head of Global Business Operations at Showpad:  Compensation is a lightning rod through your organization, so it must be treated as the motivator and catalyst that it is. This can be the best method to encourage the specific behavior or focus that your selling teams need. A good plan should also recognize the stage & scale of your company and be adjusted as you grow. Don’t try to force a single use one-size plan on all AE roles; simplicity is key in compensation but unique roles should be tied to their unique measures.

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