Back to Basics: Ideal Pay Level and Mix for Your Incentive Plan

Posted by Chad Albrecht on Wed, Aug 27, 2014

In the first “Back to Basics” blog, we covered incentive compensation plan eligibility and guiding principles. In this blog, we want to turn to targeted pay level and mix.  By “target” pay level, we mean the pay level that the “average” salesperson will earn for achieving expectations (often 100% of sales quota) in a given year.  When we say “target” mix, we mean the way that total pay is delivered – either in base salary or in incentive pay.  The mix is normally stated as a ratio, first with the percent base salary, and then the percent incentive.  For example, if a job with a target pay level of $100,000 has $70,000 of that delivered in base salary, we would say that the pay mix is 70:30.

Step one in establishing a targeted pay level and mix is finding good market sales compensation data.  For some industries, such as technology and pharmaceuticals, there are industry-specific studies that cover the vast majority of roles.  For other industries, you may need to turn to a broader, all-industry survey such as those conducted by the HR houses. 

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