Sales Talent Wars Still Raging

June 19, 2002 ( - Attracting and retaining salespeople is just as difficult today as it was during the boom years and companies are making big changes to their compensation programs in order to remain competitive in the talent wars, a new survey by Watson Wyatt reveals.

Results of the survey showed that just under half of the sample revised their sales goals or quotas at mid-year – 75% of them revising them down. In light of the spluttering economy, according to the survey:

  • 39% of companies with increased performance reduced their quotas
  • 88% of firms with decreased performance reduced their quotas
  • 76% of firms with level performance cut their quotas.

Further, half of the companies surveyed reported that their sales forces’ performance relative to plan decreased last year, while 25% said that performance relative to plan increased.

Pay Plan

The survey also found that the use of variable performance-based pay among sales forces continues to increase, with 90% of companies offering some form of incentive pay to sales positions. 

Furthermore, despite ongoing volatility in the equity market, 87% of respondents reported either no change or an increase in the importance of offering stock-based compensation to sales forces.

The sample comprised 255 employers.