World at Work Spotlight on Sales Compensation 2020: A Wrap-Up

The World at Work Spotlight on Sales Compensation 2020 has come to an end. It marks the 10-year anniversary for this celebration of education in incentive compensation management and variable sales compensation. While the global pandemic certainly has put a twist on things, it hasn't slowed this team down. Attendance is on par with live events and exciting topics from dynamic presenters filled the four-day event over two weeks.

AI was the big topic this year. Nearly a dozen of the sessions highlighted or focused on AI and Analytics. It’s critical to the success of sales performance management, and a deeper understanding many organizations seek can only be achieved though good analytics and AI.

For many years our goal was to collect the right data and create compensation plans to motivate or reward sellers. We needed to report transactional success with each deal. But that’s not enough anymore. Today we have too much data.

Finding patterns and connecting the dots to make informed decisions is the goal. When we take data and apply questions to that data, the result is evidence. It's this evidence that provides an ability to make informed decisions. Even if the information is that we need is to ask better questions or clean our data, we’re advancing the cause of making that better decision.

In my conversations at the booth or during social activities, attendees have told me that the analytics aspect makes sense. Their teams have a growing appetite to understand.

How can they make these improved decisions? The real challenge, they tell me, is asking the better question. What context, what questions, can I ask of this data that will make a significant impact on my business? What will impact the bottom line driven by sales performance?

Some of the questions that I'm hearing apply to improving seller retention efforts. How can I align the best seller in each territory? Is there an equality of payment between genders? How do I provide an equitable balance of opportunities in the territory? Are our plans performing as anticipated? How can we better and more accurately forecast future revenue?

It's exciting to see so many experts in sales compensation light up at the power analytics and AI. Back in 2010, at the first Spotlight on Sales Compensation in Chicago at the Hyatt McCormick Place, it was an entirely different conversation.

We focused on how profits were on the rise, but employment was on the rebound following the Great Recession. The sales force was supposed to be a leading indicator. The sales team was finally getting the recognition internally at many organizations that it deserved. Pay levels for compensation experts were on the rise and finally being recognized for all the hard work they were doing. The industry was going through mergers and acquisitions at a higher volume across North America.

Over those 10 years the maturity of this marketplace has seen the importance and the impact that sales performance and sales compensation can have on the enterprise. I'm encouraged to see that we will continue to grow with the advancement of technology to support a deeper understanding that helps us to ask the right questions and provide evidence taking us even further.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, I've provided a copy of my presentation and the corresponding slides.

If you have any questions about sales performance management, AI or otherwise, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Plan Measure Manage Analyze Paul Peters Aug 20 2020 FINAL