2018 Sales Compensation ‘Hot Topics’ Survey Results Are In

By: David Cichelli Sales Compensation, Sales Compensation Program Management

Each year, the Alexander Group conducts the “Sales Compensation Hot Topics Survey” to capture current trends, answer popular questions and examine topics of interest identified by our clients and consultants. We have gathered some compelling information on the following topics: demand for new sellers, use of stock, ASC 606, first-line sales manager pay programs and the pay practices for specialty customer contact jobs.

Noteworthy Highlights

  • Sales Personnel—New Hires: With the improving economy, we asked participants if sales personnel labor shortages were emerging. At this time, the results suggest “not yet.”
  • New FASB Regulations—Revenue Recognition: ASC 606: While these new guidelines will affect accounting practices, they have yet to alter sales crediting practices for sales compensation purposes.
  • Performance Measure Categories: Used in Primary Sales Job: Among seven performance categories (production, strategic, productivity, customer experience, activities, citizenship and compliance), production is the dominant performance criterion for sales compensation purposes.
  • Sales Compensation Practices for the First-Line Sales Manager: For the most part, sales leadership aligns the incentive program of first-line sales managers (FLSMs) with the sellers they supervise.
  • Specialty Customer Contact Jobs—Pay Practices: Jobs with more customer “influence/persuasion” are more likely to have more dollars of target compensation devoted to incentive compensation. Product and vertical sales specialist jobs have the highest portion of pay devoted to incentive among 14 sales affiliated jobs.

Survey participants receive a full report of over 60 pages with findings, observations and detailed charts. This year, over 105 companies participated in the 2018 Survey. We gathered data from July to August 2018 and published in September 2018. Participants receive a full copy of the survey results.

If you would like to participate in future surveys (yes, they are free), send a note to david.cichelli@alexandergroup.com with your full contact information. Put “Survey Panel” in the subject line. We will add you to the invite list.

Getting ready for the 2019 Sales Compensation program? Write us; we can help.

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David Cichelli

David Cichelli is a senior vice president in the Scottsdale office. He is the also the firm’s Sales Compensation practice leader. David’s clients include leading companies in technology, telecommunications, wholesale/distribution, financial services and health care. David helps clients redefine and deploy go-to-customer solutions to ensure optimal revenue performance. By applying the Alexander Group’s Revenue Growth Model™, he helps companies achieve their revenue objectives through the coordination of marketing, sales and service resources. These efforts include revenue planning, customer engagement design, sales force configuration, and program design and management.


Widely recognized by national professional associations and trade publications for his work in linking sales compensation to management’s objectives, David is a frequent speaker on sales compensation topics. He is the author of Compensating the Sales Force (3rd edition) and The Sales Growth Imperative, published by McGraw Hill. He is also the author of the 2017 Sales Compensation Almanac, published by AGI Press. He serves a leadership role in the design of the firm’s revenue growth conceptual models. David is an officer of the company. He is one of three founding stockholders of the Alexander Group.


David has been with the Alexander Group for over 20 years. His previous experience includes field sales support for an industrial chemical company and sales compensation practice manager for a large human resources consulting firm. David has a B.A. from Pennsylvania State University and an M.S. from Michigan State University.


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