I was recently speaking with someone conducting a pastoral search for his local congregation, and he said something interesting: "It’s been proven that being a pastor is one of the toughest jobs there is—there are 14 specific competencies involved."
As I think about competencies for sales compensation specialists, I suspect they may give pastors a run for their money. Top sales compensation specialists have to be above average in all of the following (and several more) competencies:
- Analytic Skills: Assessing the health of the plan, not just using feedback from the field, but conducting pay-for-performance analyses and financially modeling the new plan results;
- Written Communication: Developing plan documents, a clear communication plan, and PowerPoint presentations for the plan roll-out;
- Interpersonal Communication: Listening to field input on the plans, interviewing sales leaders on plan effectiveness and possibly presenting the new plan to the field;
- Quality and Attention to Detail: If you make an error in the sales compensation calculation, the sales force will find it; quality of the payout calculations is critical;
- Initiative and Project Management: The sales compensation design process needs an owner who will initiate the process, get meetings on the calendar and do it far enough in advance so that the plan design can be completed and operational by early January; and
- Sales Compensation Expertise: Company leadership will be looking to the sales comp specialist for expertise on the topic, unintended consequences to avoid, etc.
There are many more such competencies, but you get the idea.
The sales compensation specialist role really is a unique combination of quantitative and qualitative, big picture and tactical. The person in the role needs to have the quantitative skills of a mathematician, the ear of a therapist and the discipline of a seasoned project manager. Best-in-class sales compensation specialists are exceptional in all of these areas.
What other specific competencies do you think are essential for sales compensation specialists? Do you think some organizations might not put enough emphasis on some more than others? How difficult is it to find qualified sales compensation specialists with all of these competencies?