Millions of moviegoers flocked to see Inside Out this summer, eager to meet the little voices inside their heads. The Disney plot follows five forms of emotion inside the mind of a young girl, Riley. And when she experiences a major life change, her emotions get mixed up in some humorous, though complicated ways.

If you think confronting change in the workplace is any different—e.g. new sales compensation software—you’ve clearly never managed a sales team before. Employees (including sales reps and administrators) loathe change. They instantly assume more learning and more effort will be required. So the idea of a brand new sales comp plan and/or new sales commission software sends most into a total, Lewis Black-style tailspin.

Let’s be clear: we’re not psychologists. But we’ve facilitated enough sales compensation software transitions to know how people react. Here are the six stages of emotion you can expect. (And before you get too nervous, scroll down to number six—to reassure yourself there’s a happy ending!)

When companies make the move to implement sales compensation software (or transition from another platform), they are almost always starting from a state of frustration:

  • The current system doesn’t work.
  • Reps aren’t making quota.
  • The company isn’t meeting its goals.

On top of all that, reps are constantly complaining about not getting paid correctly/on time.
Believe it or not, all these frustrations stem from a poorly designed compensation plan. The plan designer(s) either didn’t have the tools or the guidance needed to draft a functional plan.
Instead, he or she came up with a plan, ran some scenarios, didn’t get the desired results, adjusted the plans, still didn’t get workable results, adjusted the plan some more, got close enough, then tossed the plan over the wall to an administrator (quietly mumbling, “Here you go… Good luck figuring this out…”)

The admin then tried to decipher the nuances of the plan well enough to put them to spreadsheet formulas. He or she spent the bulk of many workdays struggling to find the sales data and calculate commissions, just barely getting the information to payroll on time. Soon enough, the first check was issued and the phone began ringing. Sales reps were complaining about errors—and they were right.

Does every company with a sales department endure this kind of chaos? Of course not. Most start shopping for solutions. They crowdsource advice from LinkedIn compensation groups, and search for guides on how to compare sales commission software. Then, with a promising answer on the horizon, Hope peeks its shy little head out from behind the frustration.

Ah, but what will the sales reps say? Will they revolt? Will sales compensation software require high-priced consultants? (In our case, the answer is no, by the way.) Will it take forever to implement? (Again, not with Sales Motivator.) You hardly need Bill Hader’s narration to recognize that these are scary questions for growing companies.

So at this point, denial often creeps in. Company owners and CEOs find themselves backing away from a change. The internal monologue shifts to:
Maybe the old process wasn’t so bad… Other office initiatives are more important… Like, weren’t we going to institute a monthly potluck? Start a company softball team? Rearrange the cubicles

But more pay periods go by. More people complain they’re losing time, missing payout data, seeing commission errors. There’s too much guesswork and not enough certainty to drive strategic decisions. These problems manifest in startling ways:

  • New products and services aren’t getting any traction
  • Top sales performers are handing in their notice
  • Competitors are eating you alive…

Resolve finally emerges. There’s a firm realization that change is required. And for that matter, knowing sales reps are bound to react to a new sales compensation plan doesn’t have to be a negative. You can channel the sales force “reaction” in a positive direction (one that drives results!).

Now decision makers have the confidence to tackle sales compensation once and for all.

At last! After overcoming a chronic problem, the most resounding emotion is joy. And that’s exactly what company leaders, sales managers, and administrators feel after getting an efficient sales compensation solution in place. With a strategic plan in place and software automation, it’s apparent the sales engine is now humming—powering organizational goals and soon making targets a reality.

Today’s post is a Guest Post by Scott Wade, the CEO of Cornerstone Software.

Additional resources:

To learn more about what could go wrong (and what to avoid) Download “8 Things Wrong with Your Sales Compensation Plan”

Click here to see a sample plan

To view a video overview of Cornerstone’s Sales Motivater click here