The Future of Sales Compensation: What We Heard at BTA Spring Break Blog Feature

Office

By: GreatAmerica on April 21st, 2022


The Future of Sales Compensation: What We Heard at BTA Spring Break

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to catch up with customers, friends, and peers in Orlando at the BTA Spring Break event. So many of us in our industry look forward to BTA Spring Break every year, and this one did not disappoint. It’s safe to say it’s back in full swing. It was two full days of connecting and collaborating with industry thought leaders –there was no shortage of things to talk about!  

The informative lineup provided a lot of content relevant to the industry today. But there was one topic in particular which has been a common and current sticking point in the imaging space. We'd like to hone it on that today: Sales Compensation and Recurring Revenue. Luis GonzaIez, President and Owner of SalesScoreKeeper, wrapped up day two of Spring Break covering that exact topic.  

What’s Driving a Need for a Change in the Way we Compensate? 

As Luis kicked off his session, everyone in the room leaned in. Everyone seemed eager and hopeful to learn something they could take back to their business and implement to see an impact immediately. It was almost as if they were waiting to be handed the final puzzle piece after struggling to click all the right pieces together.  

To start off, Luis made an impactful visual statement by asking the audience, “How many in the audience had changed their comp plan within the past two years?” 

Virtually everyone in the room raise their hand. We were all reminded of the obvious: The imaging channel is currently amidst an incredible transformation. Everywhere you look, traditional office equipment dealers are attempting to embrace a metamorphosis of sorts, expanding their offerings beyond image and print focused solutions, which requires a lot of experimentation to get it right. 

Related: Identifying New Revenue Streams Outside of Print 

Luis introduced the kinds of solutions being adopted as providers evolve and spoke about how a growing number of these solutions tie back to an ongoing service or subscription. This is great for providers since the associated monthly recurring revenue that comes with these solutions means more consistent and predictable cash flow. Additionally, tying these in with a contracted leased asset helps protect future revenue associated with each relationship.  

Related: Leading with a Monthly Payment: Monthly Recurring Revenue Benefits You and Your Customers 

Compensation is More Complex than Ever Before 

Rewarding recurring revenue sales is especially complex for office technology providers. Beyond the swiftly changing product mix within the industry, the current emphasis on recurring revenue also poses a challenge to the way the office technology space has traditionally approached compensation.  

Luis examined this by helping us rewind a decade. Back then, copier dealers had four, maybe five, pieces of equipment that could earn sales reps commission. At most, they operated under one or two different comp plans which differed based on tenure and experience. Beyond that, it was a simple formula to calculate the comp on any given transaction. 

He then contrasted that to today’s environment, which is much different. Now there are a slew of new dynamics to consider – more types of solutions to sell, technology advances much faster, and even the number of manufacturers has expanded. Let’s not forget that the type of sales talent required to be successful at selling these new solutions has changed. No longer is it about speeds and feeds; instead, specialized talent with the right subject-matter expertise is needed to effectively consult on and sell these new and emerging solutions.  

The solutions that fall within the office technology category have grown in breadth and depth: Think VoIP, Network & IT, Managed Print Services, Cybersecurity, etc. Luis even made the claim that the office technology industry has been perhaps the trickiest industry to work with in terms of implementing a compensation strategy. Different types of solutions sold in different ways means it can be difficult to balance the compensation approach in a way that encourages the right behavior and rewards recurring revenue in the right way. 

Related: Opportunities for Diversification: IT & Beyond 

What Can You Do About It? 

How should you approach compensation as you continue to lean heavier into recurring revenue? Luis says there’s two sides to the revenue coin. The bad news is, in an industry as mature and as complex as the office technology space, there is no magic bullet or user manual that will help you obtain the perfect compensation model.  

The good news is your peers are experimenting and learning, and you can too. Providers are getting more and more comfortable changing their comp plans every year or two so they can learn what parts are working, what parts need work, and what new considerations need to be made as technology advances.  

Even beyond the transaction itself, providers are exploring opportunities to compensate based on recruiting the right talent or incorporating commission rewards based on bringing in referrals with skillsets that align with the products and solutions being adopted. Luis has also seen solution providers compensated based on mentoring new talent, rewarding mentors for talent that is retained, or based on their sales success. Others are experimenting with less commission but higher salaries for specialized talent. He pointed out the salaries are higher than they ever have been as the need for specialized salespeople continues to grow. Some office technology providers are even starting to consider the role marketing plays in nurturing relationships in a way that moves them to buy and thinking about incorporating compensation for desired outcomes. 

Related: Aligning Compensation with Recurring Revenue Sales Success 

In Summary 

He closed by reiterating that there is no one size fits all solution that will work for everyone in the office equipment industry. The important thing is to forge ahead, try new things, and learn what works. For dealers that are hesitant to take on new products and solutions because they don’t know how to factor commissions on them, he advises you reach out to those who have already started down the path and learn from their approach. The truth is, no one has fully figured it out yet, but the industry will continue to evolve whether we are ready for it or not. It’s the ones that commit to diving in, getting their hands dirty, and learning what works who will be left standing when it’s all said and done. 

GreatAmerica

GreatAmerica is the largest independent, family-owned national commercial equipment finance company in the U.S. and is dedicated to helping manufacturers, vendors, and dealers be more successful and keep their customers for a lifetime. A $2.4 Billion company, GreatAmerica was established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1992 and has a staff of over 600 employees with offices in Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, and Illinois. In addition to financing, GreatAmerica offers innovative non-financial services to help our customers grow. www.greatamerica.com

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