The Emergence of the Global Sales Compensation Manager


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The Emergence of the Global Sales Compensation Manager

  1. 1. The Emergence of the By David J. Cichelli, The Alexander Group This in-demand professional provides guidance to global sales management clients. Global Sales Compensation Manager bsent central compensation support, world-dispersed sales leaders normally assume the mantle of design and administration of the sales compensation programs for their local sales talent. They configure sales compensation plans to serve the jobs within their business unit and will modify these programs to address unique sales challenges encountered in their local markets. It is not unusual in such situations for a company to have numerous pay programs throughout the world, even for sales jobs with similar duties and accountabilities. Almost nonexistent 10 years ago, anecdotal observations suggest more multicountry companies are appointing global sales compensation managers to oversee, support and ensure effec- tive sales compensation practices on a worldwide basis. © 2013 WorldatWork. All Rights Reserved. For information about reprints/re-use, email | | 877-951-9191 7|2013 ® The Magazine of WorldatWork©
  2. 2. 54  | workspan  july 2013 But what do these global sales compensation professionals do? What skills do they bring to this function? How do they view their jobs? What advice do they have for others interested in this field? In this article, four global sales compensation professionals share their personal perspectives. ❙❙ Ellen Miller, director of global sales incentive design and deployment, HP ❙❙ John Keller, director of global sales compensation, Verizon Enterprise Solutions (VES) ❙❙ Parrish Pullen, director of sales compensation and recognition, Intuit ❙❙ Lori Bajema, senior director of global sales compensation, Avaya And, of added interest, the professional training of these four individuals is diverse: two are HR/ compensation practitioners, one came from a line sales career and one is a trained marketing/ sales effectiveness strategist. Why Global Sales Compensation? Each of the four global sales compen- sation professionals had numerous career choices available to them. But why have they chosen global sales compensation for their current role? It appears that the challenge and the rewards that come with this career choice is what attracted these four leaders. Although Ellen Miller of HP has been offered other opportunities during her career, she has chosen to stay in the global sales compensation space. Her view: “I find the work challenging and enjoyable. You work on mission- critical business objectives. And, you can see how your work has a positive effect on business outcomes.” Miller has been with HP for two years and is currently the director of global sales incentive design and deployment. She reports to the vice president of sales compensa- tion. Her career includes 20 years of experience in various HR roles, such as training, staffing and general compensation at high-tech companies. In addition, her experi- ence includes a stint in consulting. Currently, her role at HP includes sales compensation design and program communication and training. Miller’s sales compensation function sits within the Office of Strategy and Technology. Also relishing the challenges presented in his role is John Keller, director of global sales compensa- tion for Verizon Enterprise Solutions (VES). With more than 25 years of experience, Keller has a background in corporate marketing and sales effectiveness consulting. He enjoys the challenge of coordinating the design and governance of all sales compensation plans within VES. In addition to the annual design process, Keller ensures all plans conform to legal/statutory and regu- latory requirements in all relevant jurisdictions. Keller and his team coordinate the annual rollout and training about the plans. He directs a team of 10 professionals. A global provider of IT, security, commu- nications, network solutions and professional services, VES has 5,000 sales employees in 41 countries using 125 sales compensation plans. Speaking with great pride about the sales compensation program at his company is Parrish Pullen, director of sales compensation and recognition at Intuit. The company’s sales compensation program directly supports 75 percent of the company’s revenue. Pullen’s career has been within the HR field as an HR generalist, compensation manager, incentive compensation manager and compensa- tion director. He believes that global sales compensation challenges sit at the heart of critical business deci- sions. Pullen said his work “has an immediate impact on the company’s performance.” He has a team of three professionals who help him design and administer the sales compensation plans and the recognition programs for Intuit. Pullen works closely with teams in human resources, sales operations, finance, IT and communications. Intuit is the leader in financial software solutions, such as TurboTax, QuickBooks, payroll solutions and online payment systems. The company currently operates in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, India and Singapore with sales teams in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is expanding in Europe and the Pacific Rim. Across the company, Intuit has about 50 sales positions covering nearly 900 sales employees using 65 sales compensation plans. Another global sales compensa- tion leader, whose favorite aspect of the job is seeing the impact the sales compensation function has on You work on mission-critical business objectives. And, you can see how your work has a positive effect on business outcomes. —Ellen Miller, HP
  3. 3. | 55july 2013  workspan driving the company’s goals, is Lori Bajema, senior director of global sales compensation at Avaya. She said: “When the company has a short-term or immediate initiative (new product to ramp, or new solutions to sell through acquisitions), you are often the first point of engagement to help design a compensation approach to drive a solution to address the busi- ness need. Every day is a unique set of challenges.” Bajema’s career has been exclusively on the sales side of the enterprise. During the past 10 years, she has worked in global sales compensation and sales operations functions. She spent the previous 25 years working her way up in direct sales and sales management roles for several leading technology companies. She brings a much needed field person’s perspec- tive to her job. Avaya is the worldwide leader in providing open, collaborative platforms for all communication technologies, including audio, instant messaging, text, email, video and content. Avaya’s global salesforce services customers and partners worldwide. The company has dozens of unique sales positions. The company has one unified global sales compensation model that accommo- dates slight regional metric variances. Bajema leads a team of professionals who are accountable for Avaya’s sales compensation program, including plan design, program assessment and evaluation, performance reporting, market competitiveness, special incentives, and timely and accurate payments to Avaya’s global salesforce. Avaya uses an executive sales compensation review board consisting of the chief financial officer, head of worldwide sales, senior vice president of human resources, vice president of global sales ops and herself. Input is gathered from field leadership. “A dialogue with all members on decisions is required prior to moving forward with program changes,” Bajema said. This engagement with the leadership team assures that Bajema’s work “provides mission- critical support to the sales efforts of the company.” As you would expect, Bajema believes a background in sales is “highly useful in this role when connecting with sales personnel, because they know I have walked a mile in their shoes.” Global Sales Compensation Scope In some cases, the scope of the global sales compensation manager can be expansive. For example, Miller supports four major business groups at HP, each with its own sales organization. Across the company, 440 sales incentive plans cover 27,000 incumbents. Miller partners with sales stakeholders, sales operations and finance professionals to design and deploy sales incentive plans to drive targeted business initiatives through the salesforce. She describes her role this way: “We manage the design process working with key sales leaders. We also work with our business account managers to determine how to operationalize the plans. Of course, we also work closely with those responsible for sales coverage, job design, plan assignments quotas and program costing. Our ultimate clients are the sales executives who own the sales plans.” Miller noted that her worldwide duties require her to be in frequent contact with personnel around the globe. Fortunately, 95 percent of the work can be done virtu- ally, making good use of video conferencing technologies. She added that the extremes are the most challenging. Emerging markets are the most chaotic with limited tools, systems and management infrastructure. On the other end, large mature markets, such as the United States, struggle to keep their pay plans agile and aligned with emerging business requirements. Worldwide Practices Require Continued Monitoring Verizon’s Keller encourages compen- sation managers to be ever mindful of divergent practices that occur from country to country and region to region — where such variances can be driven by economic growth rates, legislation or historical prac- tices. Keller concedes that many A background in sales is highly useful in this role when connecting with sales personnel, because they know I have walked a mile in their shoes. —Lori Bajema, Avaya To read a book about this topic, visit
  4. 4. 56  | workspan  july 2013 practices can be followed in a uniform manner on a worldwide basis; however, he provided these global location insights: ❙❙ South American and Latin American countries (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico) have cyclical currency issues (hyperinflation and devaluation), country-specific labor statutes and fragmented labor markets. ❙❙ Eastern Europe (especially Russia) has a booming economy, rising labor costs and a shifting labor and regu- latory environment. China is similar to Eastern Europe in these respects. ❙❙ Western Europe has some unique labor laws and regulations, but over time, most countries are becoming more similar to the United States. In addition, works councils present a unique chal- lenge, but are manageable. ❙❙ In the United States, California is extremely challenging. Frequent labor law changes make it difficult to stay contemporary with all the statu- tory and regulatory requirements. Challenges for the Global Sales Compensation Manager The global sales compensation field has endless challenges. Some of these challenges require balancing competing demands of central objectives with the needs of the local sales teams. For example, Pullen of Intuit says his biggest challenge is to balance the competing demands of a company with multiple businesses while trying to have an effective and efficient sales compensation plan. Here is his objective: “Making sure our incen- tive programs are stable enough to provide some year-to-year consistency, yet flexible enough to respond to rapidly changing market conditions.” Not an easy task. Avaya’s Bajema added that her biggest sales compensation challenge is keeping the pay plans aligned with changing business objectives. For example, in response to the growing market demand for cloud-based solutions, Avaya had to alter its pay plans to reward for monthly revenue cloud offerings in addition to tradi- tional revenue from capital sales and prepaid multiyear contracts. Bajema described her challenges: “During the last 10 years of sharing with other sales compensation professionals, I think we all have good ideas about plan design, creative SPIFF options, metrics and leverage standards for various roles. However, where professionals have less concrete ideas is around how we measure the effectiveness of our plan changes. It’s easy to assume if a plan change in some key technology area results in higher revenue perfor- mance that the plan was successful. In reality, it may have been market timing, economic impact or other factors that caused the success. “I don’t profess to have all the answers here,” Bajema continued, “but I keep pushing my team to constantly improve our measurement and analysis against our results and to challenge our thinking around how we spend our critical sales compensation budget dollars to actually drive the right behaviors with our sales teams.” Advice for Those Interested in Global Sales Compensation “Perhaps the most important piece of advice I would give is to never stop learning and always stay humble,” Keller said. “You can never know everything there is to know in this arena. Actively pursue new ideas and different ways of doing things.”  David J. Cichelli  is senior vice president at The Alexander Group in Scottsdale, Ariz. He can be reached at resources plus For more information, books and education related to this topic, log on to and use any or all of these keywords: ❙❙ Global + sales compensation ❙❙ Global + sales management ❙❙ Global sales + practice. It’s easy to assume if a plan change in some key technology area results in higher revenue performance that the plan was successful. —Lori Bajema, Avaya