Today more than ever before, the buyer experience is a key sales differentiator. So while it’s important that sellers achieve their quotas and close deals, it can also be beneficial to incentivize certain behaviors that lead to memorable customer service.

How do you effectively implement and sustain such a strategy? If your organization is thinking about restructuring your sales compensation plans to integrate customer success metrics, here are three questions to consider.

1 How important is customer success to your organization?

Improving customer satisfaction means consistently exceeding expectations—and that will require an investment in resources and a financial commitment.

So, before tweaking your compensation plan to incorporate customer success, think about the potential impact on your bottom line and overall sales strategy. Will improving customer success help your organization achieve its strategic goals? Is customer service a critical part of your business? If so, then you’re more likely to see a return on your investment.

2 How will you measure customer satisfaction?

Measuring customer satisfaction is an art and a science, and it requires a mix of quantitative and qualitative criteria. The metrics should focus on areas essential to your organization’s success, they should be clear to the reps, and they must be consistent with your overall business and sales strategy.

Here are some examples of specific customer success metrics to consider, from narrow to broad:

Customer satisfaction scores

Linking reps’ job responsibilities to direct customer satisfaction scores is the most effective approach for measuring customer service. For example, a seller might receive a score for each of the following tasks:

  • Sharing product descriptions that are easy to understand
  • Explaining pricing and order processing clearly
  • Responding to customers’ follow-up questions quickly
  • Overseeing delivery 
  • Visiting a customer site

Customer purchase data

By studying customer behaviors such as product returns, repeat purchases, cancellations, and the duration of the buying process, you can gauge satisfaction levels with the sales process. Behavior is less subjective than feedback and opinions, which means more accurate insights. Businesses can also tap into behaviors to get a sense of how customers feel about each stage of the buying journey. This makes it easier to connect customer satisfaction to an individual representative’s effort.

Customer feedback

Collecting customer feedback from across the organization provides the clearest measurement of satisfaction and the most direct feedback. Asking customers about their recent experience and understanding of the product or service they just bought sheds light on how well the company’s processes and behaviors are aligned with the buyer’s journey.

After you select an approach, you need to choose a benchmark for comparing performance. Possible benchmarks include stronger retention rates, deeper product penetration, and higher overall customer satisfaction or loyalty scores for customer-facing personnel.

Sales Effectiveness

Breakthrough to immediate, predictable and sustainable sales effectiveness

3 What’s the best way to connect customer satisfaction metrics to seller pay and performance?

Sales organizations have two options to connect customer success with sales pay:

  1. Increasing or decreasing pay based on customer success scores 
  2. Tying a share of the target incentive to customer satisfaction

The choice should be made thoughtfully and should be based on the level of emphasis placed on the measure and the organization’s ability to gauge customer satisfaction accurately.

Before including customer success measures in your sales incentive plan, consider how often and how consistently you collect customer satisfaction data. If this data is hard to get, isn’t linked to a seller’s performance, or isn’t gathered regularly, then a broader measure at the district or company level might be more appropriate. Of course, the broader the measure, the less impact individual salespeople have, so less pay should be tied to this measure.

Never stop evaluating the effectiveness of your sales compensation plan

World-class sales organizations don’t just set and forget their sales compensation plans. They regularly consider how to strengthen their customer success scores, how they measure customer satisfaction, and how to use it to drive sales performance. 

Our sales experts can help ensure that your sales incentive plans are linked to your strategic goals. Contact us today to learn how we can help you design the right sales compensation strategy to motivate your sales teams.

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