Amid the economic chaos and global disruptions of COVID-19, sales reps are concerned about their near-term sales compensation payouts, and whether HQ will make any adjustments to their plan or quotas. While some pockets of the tech industry, like data centers or web conferencing providers, have become more vital than ever, others are negatively affected as their customers’ businesses are partially or completely shut down. The majority of reps will feel an impact on their 2020 quota achievement, but they are more concerned with their Q1/March payouts. Here are some immediate steps to address their concerns:

  • Create a monthly incentives review team. This team, which could be part of your current governance team, can determine your plans for each month for the rest of the year given the fluidity of the situation.
  • Consider a stipend to support reps as remote workers. Facebook and Shopify have announced $1,000 employee stipends to alleviate the costs of working from home. Reps spend $3,000 to $5,000 a month on travel – with those costs abated, there should be room in the budget to at least buy them a good headset and a wireless mouse. Making sure that they have the gear needed to keep doing their job shows your support for them at this time – like it or not, the backdrop of their guest bedroom has become part of your brand during their sales calls.
  • As deal velocity slows, shift activity and coaching to other areas. A few weeks off the road can be a great chance to work on account plans and pipelines. Up-to-date pipelines will help leadership understand what quota adjustments may be needed for the year.
  • Provide a cushion. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter have all pledged to keep paying their hourly staff at HQ. Reps also need a soft landing, especially those earning half or more of their pay through variable incentives. What can be paid out is up to your firm and your budget, but a short-term cash infusion to bridge a stoppage in deals closing will help keep reps focused on carrying the business forward.
  • Let reps know that the annual plan will likely change. The length and depth of the economic impact of the coronavirus are yet unknown. Acknowledge that there has been a macro event and that as events unfold, changes will be made to try to be fair and reasonable with expectations for 2020. As we start to look at indicators, keep in mind that some geographies have been impacted earlier and may sustain a larger impact, but only time will tell.

Focus on keeping your teams healthy and giving what security you can. Organizations that invest in their people and reps who invest in their client relationships will be best prepared to successfully weather this storm.