What Is a Sales Compensation Plan & How to Create Plan | Compport

Learn how to design and structure your sales compensation plan. From paying commission and total salary to driving the right behaviors.

In the intricate world of modern business, a sales compensation plan becomes a guiding star, intricately designed to align employee motivation with company goals. Simply put, sales 

compensation is the way financial rewards are connected to performance, bridging the gap between individual aspirations and collective accomplishments. In this context, there are certain terms that play a crucial role in orchestrating these compensation arrangements.

  • Sales Quota: This acts as a guiding light for sales teams, setting a standard for desired achievements. It's not just a goal; it's a compass steering efforts towards reaching targets.
  • On-target Earnings (OTE): This encompasses various compensation components such as base salary, commissions, and bonuses. It acts as an enticing reward for those who navigate the sales journey.
  • Sales Accelerators: These boost commission rates as sales targets are exceeded. They're a clever mechanism to motivate sales teams to achieve exceptional results.
  • Sales Decelerators: These balance out accelerators, reducing commissions when performance is lacking. They create a link between effort and results.
  • Clawbacks: These act as a safety net, recovering paid commissions in cases of order cancellations or unmet conditions. A safeguard against uncertainties.
  • Sales Performance Incentive Fund: This goes beyond regular commissions, rewarding exceptional accomplishments and encouraging excellence.

With these terms as guiding stars, crafting a sales compensation plan becomes a dance between aspirations and practicality. It's more than just numbers; it's a fusion of strategy and motivation. The plan outlines how rewards are distributed, forming the structure of the compensation plan. Within this structure, balancing base salary, projected sales, commission rates, bonuses, and the innovative concept of commission per scale becomes vital.

What Is a Sales Compensation Plan?

In the dynamic world of business coordination, a Sales Compensation Plan emerges as a strategic guide, intricately designed to align motivation with organizational success. At its core, it's the harmonious symphony that blends financial incentives with performance goals, merging individual aspirations with collective triumph. This plan isn't just paperwork; it's a roadmap that guides the convergence of rewards and results.

This sophisticated orchestration is built upon the architecture of the sales compensation structure, where base salary, projected sales, commission rates, and bonuses come together as a coherent whole. The plan orchestrates the seamless interaction of these elements, fostering an environment where sales teams are not just rewarded, but propelled towards excellence.

Within this context, a Sales Compensation Plan is more than its individual parts. It's the driving force behind motivation, competition, and exceptional accomplishments. It bridges the gap between financial goals and strategic ambitions. In the business symphony, a well-crafted Sales Compensation Plan takes on the roles of both conductor and performer, orchestrating success for individuals and the organization.

The Significance of the Sales Compensation Plan

In the intricate realm of business strategy, the Importance of a Sales Compensation Plan shines as a guiding star, shaping the path to organizational success. This strategic orchestration goes beyond numbers; it's the art of aligning motivation with goals, propelling teams towards remarkable achievements.

  • Alignment with Objectives: A well-crafted Sales Compensation Plan creates a direct link between individual aspirations and company objectives. It guides sales teams to focus on targets that contribute to the overall strategic vision.
  • Motivation and Excellence: The plan acts as a catalyst for motivation, igniting competitiveness within salesforces.By tying financial rewards to performance, it fosters a culture of excellence and continuous improvement.
  • Performance-Driven Culture: The structure of the plan, including base salary, projected sales, commission rates, and bonuses, nurtures a results-oriented environment. Sales teams are driven to strive for greater achievements, propelling business growth.
  • Attracting and Retaining Talent: A robust Sales Compensation Plan becomes a magnet for top talent, attracting individuals seeking financial rewards and personal growth. Recognizing exceptional contributions through the plan enhances the retention of outstanding performers.
  • Strategic Incentives: Within the sales compensation structure, strategic elements like commission per scale encourage sales teams to surpass targets. Incentives are designed to boost productivity while maintaining financial feasibility.
  • Collective Synergy: The Sales Compensation Plan fosters unity as individual achievements contribute to collective success. Teams collaborate to achieve shared goals, enriching the organization's ecosystem.
  • Catalyst for Growth: Beyond monetary rewards, the plan nurtures innovation and creativity. Employees are motivated to explore new avenues for growth and market expansion.

In a world where success hinges on strategic precision, the Sales Compensation Plan serves as a guiding light illuminating the path to excellence. It's more than an administrative tool; it's a symphony of aspiration and achievement, harmonizing individual ambitions with corporate triumph.

Different Types of Sales Compensation Plans and Models

In the ever-evolving world of sales strategies, understanding the nuances of Different Types of Sales Compensation Plans and Models is crucial for nurturing high-performing sales teams. Each model is a unique composition, harmonizing financial incentives with sales performance in distinct and effective ways.

  • Straight Salary Plan: This model is a consistent melody, offering a fixed salary regardless of sales outcomes. It suits roles where quantifying direct sales impact is complex, providing stability while potentially limiting the immediate link between performance and earnings.
  • Commission Only Plan: In this dynamic arrangement, financial rewards are directly tied to sales performance. Salespeople are motivated to excel, knowing their efforts translate into immediate and proportional financial gains.
  • Salary Plus Commission Plan: This model strikes a harmonious balance between stability and incentives. Base salary combined with commission’s offers both assured income and potential enhanced earnings through exceptional performance.
  • Territory Volume Plan: Regional melodies guide this plan, focusing on sales volume within specific territories. It's fitting for markets with diverse demands, allowing sales teams to adapt their approach based on each region's dynamics.
  • Tiered Commission Plan: This model crescendos excitement with escalating commission rates for surpassing sales targets. The allure of higher rewards drives consistent high-level performance, motivating teams to continually strive for excellence.
  • Profit Margin Plan: This composition reverberates with profitability, linking commissions directly to the profit margin of each sale. It encourages sales teams to strategically emphasize high-margin products, balancing sales volume with profitability.

In the grand symphony of sales, selecting the right compensation plan is like choosing the tempo and instruments for a performance. Each model has its resonance, fitting different scenarios and organizational needs. This orchestration of compensation intricacies directly impacts the motivation, performance, and unity of salesforces.

From a strategic perspective, companies can choose to employ one or more of these models based on their product offerings, market dynamics, and business objectives. A harmonious blend of these plans creates a symphony where stability, motivation, and excellence harmonize to propel both individual sales representatives and the entire organization towards resounding success.

Tips to Manage Your Sales Compensation Plan

In the intricate labyrinth of modern business, managing a Sales Compensation Plan is akin to conducting a symphony, where harmonious elements coalesce to create a melody of motivation and success. To orchestrate this symphony effectively, a harmonious blend of strategies and insights is crucial. Here's a chorus of tips to help you navigate the complexities:

  • Explore Different Types of Sales Compensation Plans: As the sales landscape evolves, so do the paradigms of rewards. Familiarize yourself with the diverse array of sales compensation plans available, such as salary-based, commission-based, or hybrid models. Each carries its own notes, resonating differently based on your business's nuances.
  • Set Targets That Resonate: Creating a strong foundation requires setting targets that are challenging yet attainable. These targets serve as your North Star, guiding your teams towards remarkable achievements. Align them with the overall sales compensation structure to ensure equilibrium between aspirations and feasibility.
  • Keep It Simple Yet Robust: Simplicity is the hallmark of effective management. Design your Sales Compensation Plan with transparent structures, ensuring that both sales teams and management can understand it effortlessly. Complexity can hinder understanding, while simplicity fosters focus and action.
  • Involve the Right Team Members: In this orchestration, collaboration is key. Engage stakeholders from various levels of your organization, from sales representatives to finance experts. Their diverse perspectives enrich the plan, infusing it with the essence of collective wisdom.
  • Determine On-Target Earnings (OTE): Anchoring your Sales Compensation Plan in reality is pivotal. Determine the On-Target Earnings (OTE) meticulously, striking a balance between attractive financial rewards and fiscal sustainability. OTE isn't just numbers; it's the harmonious chord that bridges motivation and viability.

Don’t Cap Compensation: Incentives without limits propel sales forces towards untapped heights. Removing artificial compensation caps goes beyond a mere monetary gesture; it signifies a profound commitment to nurturing excellence. Unleash your teams' potential by allowing top performers to scale their earning potential limitlessly.

Sales Compensation Structure Template

In the intricate architecture of sales compensation, the sales compensation structure acts as a foundation, a blueprint where motivation aligns with financial incentives. This structure outlines how rewards are orchestrated, ensuring that sales teams aren't just compensated, but driven towards exceptional achievements.

  • Base Salary: The cornerstone of the structure, base salary provides stability and assurance. It offers financial security, allowing salespeople to focus on surpassing targets without undue stress.
  • Projected Sales: Like the melody of a composition, projected sales set the tone for performance. They serve as a benchmark against which individual achievements are measured, aligning efforts with tangible goals.
  • Commission Rate: The rhythm of motivation, the commission rate dictates the pace of effort. This rate, often tied to sales targets, propels sales teams to exceed expectations, amplifying earnings through performance.
  • Bonus Amount: The crescendo of the structure, bonuses highlight exceptional achievements. These rewards, above and beyond regular commissions, inspire remarkable performance and recognize outstanding efforts.
  • Commission Per Scale: A harmonious innovation, this element adjusts commissions based on sales level. It introduces an incentive to elevate performance, encouraging sales teams to consistently reach higher milestones.

This sales compensation structure template is a symphony of motivation, each component harmonizing with the next to create an ensemble that propels sales forces towards exceptional triumphs. As businesses craft their compensation plans, this structure acts as both conductor and composer, orchestrating rewards that are not just financial, but inspirational. It's a testament to a company's commitment to nurturing talent, fueling growth, and ensuring that every note of effort resonates with meaningful rewards.

Sales Compensation Plan Examples

Exploring Sales Compensation Plan Examples

In the realm of sales strategies, Sales Compensation Plan Examples serve as diverse symphonies, harmonizing incentives and performance within organizational orchestras. Let's delve into these compositions that shape the way sales teams are rewarded:

  • Base Salary Plus Commission Plan: In this arrangement, a fixed base salary forms the foundation, offering financial stability. Commissions are then layered atop, providing incentives for exceeding targets. Imagine a software sales representative with a $60,000 base salary and a 5% commission on each software license sold. This motivates the representative to meet quotas and aim higher for increased earnings.
  • Base Salary Plus Bonus Compensation Plan: This plan combines stability and rewards. Base salary ensures a steady income, while bonuses recognize outstanding performance. For instance, a medical device salesperson with a $70,000 base salary earns an additional $10,000 bonus for achieving 120% of their annual sales target. This plan encourages surpassing goals for substantial financial gains.
  • Commission Only Compensation Plan: In this scheme, the direct link between performance and earnings is paramount. Sales representatives receive no fixed salary, relying solely on commissions. Consider a real estate agent earning a 3% commission on each property sale. This immediate connection between effort and income ignites motivation.
  • Gross Margin Commission Plan: This plan focuses on profitability. Commissions are tied to the profit margin of each sale, not the sales volume. Imagine an electronics retailer offering a 10% commission on items with a 30% profit margin. Salespeople naturally emphasize high-margin products, enhancing both their income and the company's profit.
  • Absolute Commission Plan: In this straightforward structure, a fixed commission is earned for each sale, regardless of the sale's value. Picture a sales representative in the fashion industry receiving a $50 commission for every clothing item sold. This clear connection between sales and income drives motivation.
  • Straight Line Commission Plan: This simple plan maintains a consistent commission rate for all sales levels. A car salesperson earning a 5% commission on each vehicle sold experiences predictable earnings, regardless of the sales scale.
  • Relative Commission Plan: This scheme adapts commissions based on individual performance relative to team averages. A technology sales team member receiving a 10% commission might earn 15% for exceeding the team average by 20%. The plan fosters competition and team performance.
  • Draw against Commission Plan: Sales representatives receive an advance or "draw" against future commissions. This guarantees baseline income during lean periods. For example, a pharmaceutical salesperson might receive a $3,000 monthly draw, which is later adjusted against earned commissions.
  • Territory Volume Commission Plan: This plan compensates based on sales volume within specific regions. A beverage distributor could reward representatives with a higher commission rate for achieving exceptional sales in designated territories.
  • Salary Only Compensation Plan: In contrast to traditional sales compensation, this plan offers a fixed salary without commission or performance-based components. This approach suits roles where quantifying direct sales impact is complex, such as managerial or administrative positions.

In the symphony of sales strategies, these Sales Compensation Plan Examples resonate as unique harmonies, blending financial motivation with targeted performance. Each composition caters to diverse business goals, cultures, and market demands, proving that sales rewards are both an art and a science.

How to Create a Compensation Plan?

Creating a well-designed sales compensation plan is like composing a symphony that harmonizes financial rewards with performance crescendos. This intricate orchestration involves strategic steps that align with corporate objectives and the aspirations of the salesforce. Here's a breakdown of the process:

  • Define Objectives and Metrics: Start by setting clear objectives for the compensation plan. Is it to boost revenue, enter new markets, or promote specific products? Align these objectives with measurable metrics that serve as the foundation for rewarding performance.
  • Design the Compensation Structure: Delve into the details of the sales commission scheme, crafting a structure that reflects your company's sales dynamics. Introduce a combination of base salary, commission rates, and potential bonuses that strike a balance between motivation and financial viability.
  • Set Realistic Targets: Ensure that sales targets are both challenging and attainable. Unrealistic goals can lead to demotivation and poor morale. Link these targets directly to compensation, creating a direct connection between performance and rewards.
  • Transparent Communication: Transparency is paramount. Communicate the compensation plan comprehensively, leaving no room for ambiguity. Sales teams should clearly understand how their efforts will be rewarded under different scenarios.
  • Involve the Right Stakeholders: Collaborate with sales leaders, HR professionals, and finance experts to ensure the plan aligns with sales strategy and organizational financial goals. Engaging diverse perspectives enriches the plan's effectiveness.
  • Regular Evaluation and Adjustments: The business landscape evolves, and so should your compensation plan. Regularly evaluate its effectiveness and adjust it as needed. A dynamic plan reflects your company's agility and adaptability.

Creating a compensation plan isn't just about numbers; it's a narrative of value recognition, motivation, and results. When carefully orchestrated, this plan can become the soundtrack to your sales team's success, inspiring them to perform with enthusiasm, dedication, and strategic brilliance.

Benefits of having a sales compensation plan

Lets explore benefits of having sales compensation plan

1. Motivation and Incentive 

Sales compensation plans serve as powerful motivators for sales teams. They provide a clear financial incentive for individuals to excel in their roles. Salespeople understand that their earnings directly correlate with their sales performance, which encourages them to work harder, close deals, and meet or exceed their targets. This motivation often results in increased productivity and revenue for the company.

2. Goal Alignment

Sales compensation plans help align the sales team's objectives with the broader goals of the organization. By defining specific targets and metrics, these plans ensure that everyone in the sales department understands what is expected of them. When individual and team goals are in sync with the company's strategic priorities, it's easier to drive the business in the desired direction.

3. Retention of Top Talent 

To attract and retain high-performing sales professionals, a competitive compensation plan is crucial. Talented salespeople are in high demand, and they are more likely to stay with a company that offers attractive earning potential. An effective sales compensation plan can reduce turnover, saving recruitment and training costs while maintaining a skilled and experienced sales team.

4. Performance Tracking 

Sales compensation plans typically include clear performance metrics and targets. This facilitates regular tracking and evaluation of sales team performance. Managers can use this data to provide feedback, identify areas for improvement, and reward top performers. The transparency of these plans also fosters healthy competition among team members, driving them to improve their performance continually.

5. Cost Control Sales 

compensation plans can be structured to control costs effectively. They often consist of a combination of base salaries, commissions, bonuses, and other incentives. By offering a lower base salary and higher commission rates, for example, a company can tie compensation more closely to actual sales results. This structure allows businesses to manage their fixed costs while still rewarding salespeople generously for their successful efforts. It can also help maintain cost predictability in uncertain economic conditions.

How Can Compport Help You Create a Sales Compensation Plan?

In the dynamic landscape of sales compensation plans and sales commission schemes, Compport stands as a guiding light, offering a comprehensive toolkit to craft, optimize, and implement tailored compensation strategies.

With an expertise-driven approach, Compport assists businesses in streamlining the complex process of designing and implementing compensation plans that resonate with organizational objectives. Here's how Compport can be invaluable:

  • Customizable Templates: Compport offers pre-designed templates that can be personalized to fit your business's specific needs and dynamics. This ensures your compensation plan aligns perfectly with your industry and sales goals.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Utilizing advanced analytics, Compport provides data-driven insights that inform decision-making in crafting effective compensation plans. These insights help you understand the impact of different elements on sales performance.
  • Expert Guidance: Compport's team of seasoned professionals offers expert guidance, helping you navigate the complexities of designing a successful compensation plan. Their expertise ensures your plan is not only effective but also compliant with industry standards.
  • Optimization Tools: Compport equips you with tools to fine-tune your compensation plan over time. This ensures your plan remains aligned with changing market conditions and evolving business strategies.
  • User-Friendly Platform: Compport's user-friendly platform makes creating and managing compensation plans intuitive and efficient. This empowers businesses of all sizes to design compensation plans that drive sales excellence.

Compport's dedication to excellence in sales incentives makes it an indispensable partner for businesses seeking to elevate their sales compensation strategies. By leveraging their expertise and tools, you can embark on a journey towards enhanced sales performance and organizational success.


In the world of modern business, a sales compensation plan is like a musical composition that aligns employee motivation with company goals. It's a strategic guide that links financial rewards to performance, bridging personal ambitions with collective achievements. The plan consists of key elements like sales quotas, on-target earnings, accelerators, and more, which work together to create a balance between aspirations and practicality.

The significance of a sales compensation plan lies in its power to unite individual desires with company objectives. It sparks motivation, encourages excellence, and nurtures a culture of achievement. By aligning sales teams with the bigger picture, it attracts and retains talent, fostering both personal and company growth.

Different types of compensation plans, like base salary plus commission or tiered commission plans, offer various melodies to suit different situations. Crafting an effective plan involves defining goals, involving the right people, and ensuring clarity in communication. Tools like Compport provide expertise and templates to help orchestrate a tailored plan.

In the end, just as a symphony conductor guides musicians to create beautiful music, a well-designed sales compensation plan directs sales teams toward success. It's more than numbers; it's the rhythm of motivation and the melody of achievement, harmonizing individual dreams with the success of the organization.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the 70-30 Compensation Plan?

The 70-30 Compensation Plan is a type of sales compensation structure commonly used in sales organizations to reward sales representatives for their performance. In this plan, the compensation is divided into two components: a fixed base salary (usually 70% of the total compensation) and a variable component tied to the sales representative's performance (typically 30% of the total compensation). This plan is often referred to as a "base plus commission" plan.

The base salary provides a stable income for sales representatives, offering financial security regardless of their sales performance. This helps to attract and retain talented individuals and provides a steady income stream for them to meet their basic needs. The variable component, which is the commission, is directly linked to the sales achieved by the representative. The more they sell, the higher their earnings from commissions.

The 70-30 compensation plan strikes a balance between providing a guaranteed income and incentivizing high performance. It motivates sales representatives to strive for higher sales volumes to earn higher commissions, driving them to perform better and contribute to the company's revenue growth.

2. How can a Sales Compensation Plan help with the Budgeting of a Company?

A well-structured sales compensation plan can significantly impact a company's budgeting process in several ways:

  • Cost Predictability: With a structured compensation plan, a significant portion of the sales representatives' earnings is fixed as base salary. This predictable cost allows the company to better forecast its expenses related to sales personnel.
  • Performance Alignment: Variable components of the plan, such as commissions, are directly tied to sales performance. This alignment ensures that the company's budget is directly influenced by the actual revenue generated. As sales increase, the commission expenses increase proportionally, creating a balanced relationship between expenses and revenue.
  • Incentive Management: Sales compensation plans are designed to motivate sales representatives to achieve higher sales targets. This alignment of incentives with company goals can lead to increased sales and revenue, positively impacting the overall budget.
  • Budget Flexibility: A variable component in the compensation plan means that expenses can adjust according to business fluctuations. During high-revenue periods, commissions may increase, but during lean times, the variable expenses can decrease, aiding in maintaining budget flexibility.
  • Budget Control: By setting clear guidelines for compensation and performance targets, the company can control its expenses more effectively. The budgeting process becomes more streamlined, as the compensation plan provides a framework for allocating resources to the sales team.

3. What are 3 Sales Compensation Methods?

There are various sales compensation methods, each designed to achieve specific goals and cater to different sales roles within a company. Here are three common methods:

  • Salary-Only Compensation: In this method, sales representatives receive a fixed salary without any variable commission. This approach is suitable for roles where the sales process involves a longer cycle or complex solutions, and the emphasis is on building relationships and providing ongoing support rather than quick sales.
  • Commission-Based Compensation: This method ties a sales representative's compensation directly to their sales performance. They earn a percentage of the sales revenue they generate. This approach provides strong incentives for representatives to focus on closing deals and driving revenue. Commission structures can be tiered, where the percentage increases as they achieve higher sales targets.
  • Base Salary + Commission Compensation: The 70-30 compensation plan falls into this category. It combines a fixed base salary with a commission component based on sales performance. This method provides a balance between stability and incentives, allowing representatives to have a reliable income while also being motivated to achieve higher sales targets for increased commissions.

These methods can be tailored and combined in various ways to suit the company's goals, industry, and specific sales roles. The choice of method depends on factors such as the complexity of the sales process, the type of products or services being sold, and the desired level of performance motivation.

4. What are the different types of sales compensation plans?

Sales compensation plans encompass a variety of models tailored to motivate and reward sales teams. These include base salary, commission, salary plus commission, tiered commission, draw against commission, bonus plans, profit sharing, milestone bonuses, team-based incentives, residual commissions, SPIFs, and stock options or equity. The choice of plan depends on factors like the business's nature, industry standards, and organizational objectives, often combining multiple approaches to create a balanced and effective compensation structure that encourages sales performance and aligns with the company's goals.

5. How can a company create an effective sales compensation plan?

To create an effective sales compensation plan, a company should start by setting clear and measurable objectives aligned with its overall business goals. Understanding industry benchmarks and market trends helps determine a competitive compensation mix of fixed and variable components. Establish performance metrics, such as revenue targets and quotas, and implement a tiered commission structure to reward high performance. Regularly review and adjust the plan, communicate it transparently to the sales team, and invest in their training and development. Compliance with legal regulations, performance evaluation, and a feedback loop for improvement are essential elements to ensure the plan's success in motivating and retaining top-performing salespeople while driving business growth.

Find out how Compport can help you manage all your Compensation Management and Rewards Tech needs, book a demo today!

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