COVID-19 – The Importance of Evidence-Based Decision Making

At the beginning of March, many conversations with clients, prospects and partners started with, “How do you think COVID 19 will impact you and the move to Varicent?” During this time, there was a universal feeling of uncertainty. Watching China lockdown, closely followed by South Korea, Italy, Spain and France, people started to consider what will be the impact to me, my family and my business?


We are in an unprecedented time where entire economies need help from their governments and industries. The sheer magnitude of the global phenomenon has led to the International Monetary Fund noting that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed the world into a recession that may trigger the worst economic fallout since the 1930s Great Depression, with only a partial recovery in 2021. 


Wuhan, the epicenter for the pandemic, is allowing travel again. Denmark Austria and Spain have given approval for some sectors to return to work. Due to the cautious optimism, the questions are changing: “Matt, what is everyone doing about quotas now? Are they doing anything to compensate people? How are they trying to keep people motivated? Are there any trends you are seeing?


Recently, there have been notable survey results released by The Alexander Group and Willis Towers Watson – you will see one from Varicent soon too – all of these whitepapers have different questions, but common themes.

In the report supplied by Willis Towers Watson, COVID-19’s Impact on Incentive Plans, Sales Compensation:

  • 85% expected to see an impact to short-term incentives
  • 69% stated there would be an impact to long-term incentive
  • 63% confirmed there would be changes to their compensation plans

Findings in Alexander Group’s survey, COVID-19 Impact on Seller’s Pay, highlight that 82.2% of sales leaders are planning some type of seller/pay adjustment.

Across the globe, there are many considerations being made from quota changes to pay guarantees or new metric additions being added to the plans such as customer satisfaction or churn.

Last week, I was on a web meeting with one of my clients in the media industry. He had been tasked with looking at his company’s plans to see if there was a way to increase employee moral without impacting the overall budget. He used the Varicent application to start looking at scenarios such as: if they were to pay an average of the last three months’ performance, what would that look like from a group and person perspective?

After running over twelve scenarios, he found a solution that could help address management’s challenge, while being well within the company’s economic and ethical constraints. He has used the historical data inside of Varicent to support what the business had asked of him.


When adjusting compensation plans and rules based on a major external event, be sure to consider the mechanism and the behaviour you are looking to drive. Use technology to help analyse data and uncover non-obvious insights that will help determine the best path forward. Just like my client who analysed 12 different scenarios, clearly outline the challenge, the parameters that you are working within, the options considered, and why ultimately the solution chosen is the best for the overall health of the business and sales teams.