Learning Methods
A traditional classroom couples on-site learning with the added value of face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers. With courses and exams scheduled worldwide, you will be sure to find a class near you.
Highly Interactive
On-going interaction with instructor throughout the entire classroom event
Interaction with peers/professionals via face-to-face
Components (May Include)
On-site instructor-led delivery of course modules, discussions, exercises, case studies, and application opportunities
Supplemental learning elements such as: audio/video files, tools and templates, articles and/or white papers
E-course materials available two weeks prior to the course start date; printed course materials ship directly to the event location
One + Days
Varies by course ranging from one to multiple days
Technical Needs
Specific requirements are clearly noted on the course page
Virtual Classroom
Ideal for those who appreciate live education instruction, but looking to save on travel. A virtual classroom affords you many of the same learning benefits as traditional–all from the convenience of your office.
Highly Interactive
On-going interaction with instructor throughout the entire virtual classroom event
Interaction with peers/professionals via online environment
Components (May Include)
Live online instructor-led delivery of course modules, discussions, exercises, case studies, and application opportunities
Supplemental learning elements such as: audio/video files, tools and templates, articles and/or white papers
E-course materials available up to one week prior to the course start date. Recorded playback and supplemental materials available up to seven days after the live event.
Varies by course ranging from one to multiple sessions
Technical Needs
Adobe Flash Player
Acrobat Reader
Computer with sound capability and high-speed internet access
Phone line access
A self-paced, online learning experience that allows you to study any time of day. Course material is pre-recorded by an instructor and you have the flexibility to view content modules as desired.
Independent Learning
Components (May Include)
Pre-recorded course modules
Supplemental learning elements such as: audio/video files, online quizzes
E-course materials start on the day of purchase
Optional purchased print material ships within 7 business days
120 Days - Anytime
120-day access starts on the day of purchase
Direct access to all components
Technical Needs
Adobe Flash Player
Acrobat Reader
Computer with sound capability and high-speed internet access
Contact Sponsor
Paul Thompson
Phone: 1 44 01614322584
Contact by Email | Website
Sorry, you can't add this item to the cart.
You have reached the maximum allowed quantity for purchase in your cart or the item isn't available anymore.
Product successfully added to your cart!
View your cart
Continue shopping
Please note our website will be down this Friday, November 5 from 9pm ET – 11pm ET for routine maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Global vs. Localized Sales Compensation


Editor’s Note: Workspan Daily will be publishing a monthly sales compensation column from the Alexander Group for the benefit of our readers and to encourage further discourse on topics vital to compensation professionals. New to WorldatWork? Please feel free to join the discussion in our Online Community or send your thoughts to

For sales organizations scattered throughout the world, sales compensation presents a unique challenge. Should you have one global pay plan? Or should sales compensation designers configure the pay plans to match local conditions and practices?

One camp insists that sales compensation plans should be universal: An account manager in the United States should be paid like an account manager in the United Kingdom, Japan and Columbia. The other faction argues that selling is “local,” and pay plans should match the local job role. Frankly, both parties can see the merits of the others’ perspective. However, the biases remain: One team favors global solutions and the other favors local solutions. Oh, and don’t forget about the third camp, the folks who say, “well, it depends.”

What We Know
As we consider the question of global sales compensation practices, here are truths we know.

  • Worldwide Use. Revenue leaders use sales compensation throughout the world to reward sales performance. It’s a common management practice regardless of history or legal stipulations. However, it’s always best to remember that using sales compensation is a management choice, not a preordained program.
  • Similar Jobs. Many customer contact jobs operate in a similar fashion across the globe. Well, kind of. As we discuss below, differences in job design will impact sales compensation plans. It’s a simple question: Does the account manager in the U.S., Japan and Canada function the same? If “yes,” the pay plans will most likely share common features. If “no,” expect pay plans to differ from region to region.
  • Local Markets. Target pay levels follow local labor markets. Regardless of exchange rates and the cost-of-living variances, pay levels are set to be competitive with local labor market practices.
  • History. History counts. “Momentum management” carries proven practices into the future. These legacy methods have latent value: People know how they work and making changes will be disruptive. The implication: Make changes only to serve compelling business implications. This excludes making changes solely for administrative simplicity.
  • Leadership. Local/region leadership often configures pay systems to match management philosophies such as program eligibility, extent of seller teaming, and aggressiveness of at-risk pay. Unless HQ mandates worldwide people practices, local pay systems will reflect these belief systems.
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance. No question, from country to country, numerous legal and regulatory requirements affect the application of sales compensation programs, including works councils, unions, mandatory year-end bonuses, pay-reduction restrictions and signed acknowledgment requirements to name the most common.

What Does the Data Say?

Numerous surveys (examining country variances) found more commonality than disparate practices. As an example, one factor that should highlight pay plan variance among countries would be the degree of at-risk pay. However, survey responses seem to confirm only modest variance of at-risk pay among countries for the same job.


As the chart suggests, the degree of at-risk pay for the account manager varies by less than 5% among the listed countries.

Prevalence of Practice — A Fruitless Search
Prevalence of practice is a benchmarking concept that uses market research to identify the most prevalent practice for adoption.

“Let’s see what others are doing; that’s what we will do!”

Unfortunately, prevalence of practice does not offer a definitive path for making sales compensation design decisions. Why? There are too many factors affecting the sales compensation design for a specific job at a specific company to reveal a dominant market practice such as product competitiveness, management philosophy, go-to-market strategy, value propositions, sales process model, job design, and rewards strategy. A summary of pay plans from other companies will not identify the best choice. Yes, the research will be educational, but not conclusive for plan design purposes. However, collect market data to establish target total compensation amounts for each job.

The Best Solution: Global Sales Compensation Design Principles
One approach solves the perplexing issue of global versus local sales compensation plans: Adopt global sales compensation design principles for local application. That is, apply universal design principles to all jobs, regardless of location. Fortunately, this approach avoids interpreting dissimilar region go-to-market practices, and yes varying local management philosophies — a practice that needs addressing elsewhere. Whatever is “different” will be inherent in the local job — for good or bad.

The brilliance of this approach simplifies the question of differences by allowing (the local) job design to drive the sales compensation solution. Global sales compensation design principles use the same set of rules for each job, regardless of configuration. Job content determines the best pay plan.

Once designed, adjust for any local legal and regulatory requirements.

Here is a simplified example of global principles.

  • Eligibility. Job incumbents are eligible for sales compensation (pay at-risk with upside earnings potential) if they have customer contact, customer influence and measurable goals.
  • Target Total Compensation. Gather pay data and apply the company’s competitive level (e.g., 60th percentile of market practices) to set target total compensation/on-target earnings for each job.
  • Pay Mix. Split the target total compensation into base pay and target (at-risk) incentive. Use a deeper pay mix (e.g., 60/40 base/incentive ratio) for jobs with high customer influence and use a lower pay mix (e.g., 85/15) for jobs with less customer persuasion. 
  • Leverage. Provide upside earnings potential to match the competitive practice of the 90th percentile of labor market rates. Do not cap the plans.
  • Measures. Use no more than three output measures: sales volume and perhaps additional strategic measures of product mix or profitability. The sales volume measure should be more than 50% of the available incentive monies. No measure should be worth less than 15% of the target incentive.
  • Quotas. Use addressable market potential and current share to allocate quotas. Plan for 55% to 65% of all sellers (by job) to reach and exceed quota. Remove unpredictable mega orders from the quota; provide adjusted payout schedule for these orders. Remove unpredictable new product launches from the quota; provide a contest/spiff to reward these efforts.

Additional principles address sales crediting, account assignments and pay/performance periods.

Solving the Unsolvable
Use global sales compensation principles to design effective sales compensation plans regardless of differences found among divisions, regions and local leadership.

About the Author

David Cichelli Bio Image

David Cichelli is a revenue growth advisor for the Alexander Group. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

About WorldatWork

WorldatWork is a professional nonprofit association that sets the agenda and standard of excellence in the field of Total Rewards. Our membership, signature certifications, data, content, and conferences are designed to advance our members’ leadership, and to help them influence great outcomes for their own organizations.

About Membership

Membership provides access to practical resources, research, emerging trends, a professional network, and career-building education and certification. Learn more and join today.