Medical Device: Planning a Successful Sales Compensation Program

By: Craig Ackerman Implementation & Change Adoption, Medical Device, Sales Compensation Program Management

Now is the time of year many medical device companies begin considering changes to the sales compensation plan to prepare for the new fiscal year. Common questions include, Is your current sales compensation plan working? How are you measuring its success?

A sales compensation plan frequently becomes out of date due to market dynamics and changes in business or sales strategy. Companies may notice several common signs indicating the need to assess the current plan. Most companies make changes to their sales compensation program every year.

Medical device companies should conduct a comprehensive review of their sales compensation programs every year using this checklist:

  1. Establish a sales compensation design team. The sales compensation design team should include the following functions: sales management, regional sales management, finance, product division and HR.
  2. Assess current practices. Gather external survey data, senior management expectations, participant perspectives and pay/performance analyses.
  3. Confirm next year’s sales goals. Fully document the sales goals for the next fiscal year.
  4. Develop incentive plans by job. Using a design worksheet, develop the preferred incentive plans, then adjust for what can be implemented for the next fiscal year.
  5. Cost model new plans. Analyze the cost of the new pay programs. Model down to the individual level.
  6. Confirm administration. Ensure IT solutions automate incentive pay calculations.
  7. Develop communication. Develop a full communication program including manager training, participant presentations and coaching tools for supervisors.

To learn more about sales compensation and implementation checklists, read Compensating the Sales Force: A Practical Guide to Designing Winning Sales Reward Programs” by David Cichelli.

Visit the Alexander Group’s Medical Device practice page to learn more about best practices in the industry. If you have questions, please contact one of our practice leaders.

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Craig Ackerman

Craig Ackerman is a principal in Alexander Group’s Atlanta office. Areas of focus in his consulting work include market segmentation, customer coverage models, sales process effectiveness, sales job design, quota setting and incentive compensation design. Craig works with sales organizations to develop actionable go-to-market strategies across many industries, including medical devices, biotechnology, financial services and high technology.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Craig held leadership positions in sales and marketing with major telecommunication and distribution companies, and as a management consultant with a Big 5 firm. Craig has extensive expertise in business process improvement, operational support systems and customer acquisition strategies. Craig has a B.S. from Florida International University and an MBA from the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University.


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