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How to Negotiate Your 2019 Comp Plan

By: Jeff Hoffman

Q4 is all about negotiation and closing. And it’s not just those lingering deals in your pipe that you are working on. For many of us in sales, negotiating our 2019 comp plan and asking for what we want in the new year is top of mind right now.

But how do we set ourselves up for success?

Here are 3 key points to remember and focus on, when negotiating for a different comp plan in 2019.

1. First, Know What Your Manager/VP Can Change and What They Can’t

Don’t negotiate a comp change that your boss can’t deliver. That means don’t ask for something that is completely unattainable and absurd. Anything that you negotiate for has to live within the framework for  the other reps on your team and in your company. You have to go into the conversation knowing the parameters you are working within.

How do you do this?

Ask finance. Get the facts and numbers from your finance team before approaching your boss.. The thought that you’re going to get a “special deal” is ridiculous, so strike that from your mind. Go into the meeting with the facts,a reasonable request, and realistic expectations.

What if finance doesn’t tell me, you might ask? Well, if you can’t close your own co-worker, then how are you going to close your customers?! Take your sales skills and apply them internally.

2. Focus Your Negotiation on the ‘Right’ Side of the Ledger

Often your comp plan will have a chart or grid reflecting different levels of achievement and what you, the rep, will earn for each level. The left side of the chart shows the minimum amount of earnings you can earn as a rep, while the right side reflects your maximum earning potential. You should always focus on the max. As a high-achieving sales rep, you should be entirely focused on the upside number and your highest max potential of earning.

Your argument should never be – lower my quota and raise my reward as this comes across as lazy and puts you in a bad light.

However, It is far easier to negotiate if you focus on the accelerators or upside or your plan..  of that comp chart. By showing your manager that you are dedicated to hitting and exceeding your number, they are more likely to go to bat for you and deliver what you’re asking for.

3. Negotiate for Soft Benefits

Finally, negotiate for soft benefits. Imagine going to your boss, and not asking for money, but opportunity. Why? It shows that your negotiations aren’t about greed, but ambition. Something most managers can get behind.

Instead of asking for more money, ask for benefits tied to hitting your goal. Consider going to your manager and asking for certain benefits, if you hit your goal.

For example, “If I hit my number by September, I’d like to spend 2 weeks working from the London office to expand my understanding of the company’s impact and increase my involvement with the future potential of the business.”

This is a strong argument because it shows your commitment to the company’s future, your commitment to your own personal achievement and it’s fairly easy for your manager to grant this request. They don’t have to go through numerous approval channels or get HR to sign off; in most cases this is something they can deal with directly and should be happy to approve.

Make 2019 your most successful (and rewarding) year yet. By being thoughtful, well researched, and creative in your ask you will show leadership and that you are committed to your role, goal, and the future of your company.

Happy selling!



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