Compensation Issues Remain
The April editorial column on sales compensation unleashed a torrent of responses, some of which we published in our June issue. Because of that response, we decided to revisit the topic in more depth for our annual compensation article, which appears this month beginning on page 24.
Our editors contacted respondents to the April editorial column, as well as respondents to a recent compensation survey, in order to get a variety of opinions on sales compensation. Not surprisingly, we found a wide range of opinions on such topics as sales compensation, accountability to management and account ownership.
For some distributorships, the salesperson is an employee, accountable to management and paid a draw against commission. For others, the salesperson is an independent agent bringing business to a distributorship in return for commission. For another group, the salesperson is a partner, tied to the company's fate through an ESOP or other ownership plan.
In no case are the salespeople treated like other employees. One day they may be revered as saviors of the business and the next day reviled as pampered necessities.
In all instances, their compensation is tied to sales, making their positions very lucrative during some years. This year, however, their jobs have been more difficult, to the point that some are negotiating more benefits into their contracts in return for fewer perks.
As you will see in this month's article, opinions on sales compensation are diverse and are likely to remain so.