Have you decided it’s time to specialize in your sales team? One of the first ways companies do this is by separating the Account Management role from the Business Development role. If you’re thinking of this approach, and if you have a reasonably short sales cycle so that your business developers close at least several new customers per month on average, these tips are for you.
- Pay mix and upside: Selling to new clients generally relies more on the initiative, skill and creativity of the sales person than does managing existing clients. Existing clients continue to buy partly because sales people do their jobs well, and also very much because the company has delivered value to them in the past. What this means for comp plan design is that the business developer generally has more at-risk pay as a percent of Target Total Compensation than the account manager. The business developer also generally has more upside (more acceleration above target performance) than the account manager.
- Measures: For account managers, measures typically include both revenue and some measure of account (/territory) profit contribution – maybe gross margin or gross profit. For business developers, it is less common to emphasize a measure of profitability as long as it is within acceptable bounds. The message is that the business developer gets the new customers in, then the account manager works over time to grow the value of the relationship to both your company and the customer.
- Incentive form: Depending on the industry you’re in, the market position of the company, and your compensation philosophy, you may be using a commission type incentive (percent of sales, percent of margin, etc.) or a bonus-type incentive (fixed dollar payout for achieving the assigned goal, less for less, more for more). Bonus type incentives are more common in account management roles, and commission type incentives are more common in business development roles.
- Payout frequency: Because the business developer has less fixed pay and is more personally and immediately accountable for results, they are often paid more frequently than the account manager. The business developer may be paid monthly, for example, while the account manager is paid quarterly.