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Managing Sales Compensation Amidst Growing Economic Uncertainty and Volatility

Around the world, the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic is upending the best-laid plans of sales leaders. Employees, customers and prospects alike are all adjusting to significant disruptions in their professional and personal lives. Adding to this challenge is the fact that the ultimate scale and duration of this pandemic is still unknown, which makes it difficult to assess how best to adjust sales compensation plans and targets.

Unfortunately, while a slowdown in sales productivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic is inevitable, the pressure on sales forces to produce results has never been greater. These pressures include the need for sales team members to address their own personal challenges, while still driving revenue and also supporting customers who have never needed more help and guidance. As a result, organizations are quickly looking for sales compensation solutions to help them offer reasonable downside earnings protection to salespeople, while also protecting company cash flow.

Importantly, we must also remember the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for every industry, with varying degrees of impact across geographies. This is not a one-size-fits-all crisis. For example, in some cases, field salespeople simply cannot work, either due to government orders to stay at home, or because their customers have asked for a suspension of sales activities (e.g., as is the case for hospitals and healthcare providers). Every company must analyze the breadth and depth of the specific challenges they face, including whether meaningful local market variations exist.

In this article, we examine the warning signs sales leaders can look for as they analyze the specific conditions of their organization, along with the levers they can pull to help manage the impact of COVID-19 on their sales forces while also protecting the bottom line.

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