Body of Knowledge for Certified Sales Compensation Professionals

Candidates preparing for the Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP®) examination should review the Body of Knowledge (BOK). The BOK represents the complete set of knowledge and skills required for professionals working in the sales compensation field. Set as the industry standard, the BOK was identified by WorldatWork subject matter experts via a formal practice analysis completed by hundreds of practitioners.  

The BOK is comprised of six main knowledge domains consisting the knowledge, skills and abilities of the fully competent sales compensation professional. You should review the BOK while performing a self-assessment of your individual competency in comparison to the field subject matter.


Strategic Alignment of Sales Compensation  

  • Understand the human resources strategy and total rewards strategy. 
  • Understand the purpose of sales compensation and its importance to the organization’s business, products and services.  
  • Demonstrate business acumen in strategic planning for sales compensation.  
  • Understand the go-to-market strategy including distribution channels. 
  • Understand the impact of regional/cultural differences on the go-to-market strategy.  
  • Understand the financial metrics that measure the organization’s success and the sales performance measures that affect them.  
  • Determine organizational readiness for sales compensation.  
  • Decide when sales compensation is an appropriate solution to a business need.  
  • Ensure alignment between sales compensation plans and the organization’s compensation and business strategies.  
  • Recognize changes in the business environment that affect sales compensation.  
  • Understand key elements of the selling process.  
  • Demonstrate effective influencing skills when interacting with senior management, and guide decision-making related to sales comp plans.
  • Understand the regulatory environment related to sales compensation and reward, and strategically manage programs.

Jobs and Sales Compensation Solutions 

  • Clearly design and define sales jobs, including incentive plan eligibility and critical success factors by role. 
  • Identify the organization’s desired competitive position for jobs covered by the sales compensation plan. 
  • Understand sales compensation terms (e.g., target cash compensation, mix, leverage, commission, etc.).  
  • Understand the types of sales compensation plans and payout mechanics.  
  • Understand common sales compensation formula types.  
  • Identify appropriate members and roles within an effective sales compensation design team.  
  • Identify design components that should be addressed when creating or revising a sales incentive plan.  
  • Identify the behaviors that drive productivity considerations for goal setting in sales plans.  
  • Identify appropriate performance measures and weighting of measures.  
  • Determine appropriate performance periods and pay frequency for sales plans. 
  • Understand processes for developing coverage model, account structures, segmentation and territories for sales representatives.  
  • Assess market potential, targets by job and performance factors to set quotas/goals. 
  • Determine correct timing for sales crediting and payment. 
  • Utilize special plan provision to address specific selling situations.  
  • Develop appropriate variable compensation arrangements for new hires.  
  • Determine appropriate application of draws within a sales compensation plan and design draw features. 
  • Understand how to address windfalls during plan year and/or avoid in the future. 
  • Incorporate claw back/payback features as appropriate.  
  • Develop or assist in the development of SPIFFs. 
  • Work with Finance to deliver modeling of sales compensation formulas and to determine earnings impact and affordability of various alternatives.  
  • Modify sales compensation plans for multiple countries of operation.  
  • Partner with legal counsel to ensure sales compensation plans comply with applicable legislation/regulation.  
  • Effectively manage relationships with third party consultants who provide sales compensation consultation or services to the organization.

Communicate Sales Compensation  

  • Explain the value and purpose of strategic total rewards communication in the workplace. 
  • Describe various strategies for communicating pay actions. 
  • Communicate business drivers for sales compensation plans to internal stakeholders.  
  • Create and communicate sales compensation plan documents outlining the terms and conditions of the plan, description of participant quotas/goals, commission rates, draws, etc. 
  • Ensure employees understand their sales compensation plan. 
  • Create or deliver estimation tools to forecast payouts. 
  • Establish an acknowledgement system to validate plan/version communications based on regional and global standards.  
  • Create and communicate policies that specify practices for applying credits, adjustments, liabilities, windfalls, etc.  
  • Communicate sales compensation results and impact to senior management.  
  • Apply change management principles to communicate for maximum engagement.

Manage and Administer Sales Compensation Programs

  • Develop appropriate timelines for programming, communication and training.  
  • Train field sales staff on compensation-related processes and procedures.  
  • Collaborate with other internal departments on plan administration.  
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of software/programs and best practices used to administer sales compensation plans.  
  • Work with internal departments to set requirements for incentive calculation, payout approval, plan performance tracking, audit procedures and appeals.  
  • Understand global regulations pertaining to data visibility, including standards for where to store and how to share data across country lines to calculate incentives. 
  • Implement or integrate system tools to support the sales compensation program.  
  • Work with service providers and/or consultants on sales compensation plan administration.  
  • Participate in the review and validation of sales revenue, plan payouts and program exceptions.  
  • Develop effective reporting to ensure salespeople understand the relationship between their performance and their payouts. 
  • Interact effectively with senior management and regional level executives on plan operation and performance. 

Evaluate & Improve Sales Compensation Plan Effectiveness  

  • Set internal standards for plan outcomes and establish external benchmarks.  
  • Use statistical tools and processes to evaluate plan ongoing performance.  
  • Evaluate compensation cost of sales and determine appropriateness based on benchmarks and business factors. 
  • Collect qualitative survey feedback on sales plan performance from salesforce and other stakeholders.   
  • Develop/complete sales performance reports and ad hoc analysis.  
  • Understand and apply principles of root cause analysis. 
  • Monitor the impact of changes in sales channels and sales coverage.  
  • Identify and document unintended outcomes of sales compensation plans.  
  • Identify and implement required enhancements to sales compensation plans.  


  • Understand the organizational benefits of a cross-functional sales compensation governance team. 
  • Outline key policies and practices required to ensure consistency and continuity in addressing the components of sales incentive design
  • Clarify role of sales, sales operations, finance, HR, and business units and how each influences the governance and design process.  
  • Establish key decision-makers with accountability to ensure fair pay practices. 
  • Develop a process to conduct routine risk assessments on all sales compensation plans and provide results/feedback to governing body.
  • Establish and maintain an incentive calendar that highlights business cycles, stakeholder involvement and dependencies.  
Ready to Get Started?

Join WorldAtWork today and jumpstart your career.