There is a great adage in sales: “What gets rewarded gets done.” Many worthy books and articles have been written on the subject. In the interest of brevity, the following is what I have gleaned through my years in sales. Here are fifteen best practices when it comes to reviewing an organization’s sales plan.

  1. Review the plan for effectiveness more than once per year. Is it driving the behaviors you have defined as critical?
  2. The plan includes an account loss-mitigation provision. What’s the procedure in the event a large existing client is lost?
  3. There exists a compensation communication plan which provides details frequently and transparently to the team. Where do reps and managers go when they have questions?
  4. The impact of the plan is assessed against existing individual sales people and managers. Has the plan been modeled using actual employees’ existing performance to evaluate the before and after effects?
  5. The plan is not based on optimistic forecasts. Are the forecasts and quota assumptions used in the plan believable? Or aspirational?
  6. The plan was piloted in a controlled setting prior to roll out.
  7. The comp plan does not cap compensation. There is a defined method of accounting for unusual circumstances, monster deals, etc., but in general compensation should not be capped.
  8. The comp plan is matched to your business lifecycle.
  9. The incentive portion of the plan contains no more than three metrics.
  10. No single incentive metric accounts for less than 15 percent of the total available incentive compensation.
  11. Quotas are not cookie-cutter, but are based on the total available market for each territory.
  12. There is a defined process and set of criteria to request exceptions to the plan.
  13. You’ve tested the comp plan against your industry. How do your industry competitors pay compared to you?
  14. You’ve tested the comp plan against your talent competitors. You don’t just compete for sales talent in your own industry – you compete in the larger market as well. Sites like can be a starting point.
  15. Your existing technology is sufficient to manage the plan. Are different parts of the organization using different methods or tools to calculate payouts?

What else do you think a company can do to set its sales people up for success? Let me know in the comments.

Smooth Selling Forever enables small and mid-size business leaders to generate significant, predictable, and sustainable sales growth. Based in the science of selling, when applied correctly and managed vigilantly, smooth selling produces revenue results in a systematic fashion.