In Review: Getting Paid

The Future of Sales Compensation

New book raises bar for innovation in sales incentives

EVANSTON, Ill. – Feb. 12, 2016 – Simply modifying existing incentive plans isn’t enough to motivate today’s evolving sales force and drive better sales results.

Many sales leaders know this and seek innovation to improve their compensation plans but either remain undecided on what changes to make or are wary of altering the status quo for top performers and causing turnover.

Others lack the inventive ideas needed to make the changes that will deliver the right results. Consequently, the sales compensation profession as a whole has largely been hesitant to evolve.

With “The Future of Sales Compensation” (ZS; 2016; $19.95, Hardcover), Chad Albrecht and Steve Marley, leading sales compensation experts and principals at global sales and marketing firm ZS, address these challenges that have stifled innovation.

The authors draw on their more than 25 years of combined experience working with global companies across industries – including technology, financial services, travel and transportation, and medical devices – in the only comprehensive, forward-looking guide of this kind available today.


Challenging the status quo

“Organizations will fall behind if they rely solely on the status quo,” Albrecht said. “Sales leaders often struggle to make improvements to their compensation plans because the risk of change can seem greater than the upside of innovation. This book guides leaders with a holistic approach to improvement that will help them build plans that contribute to the long-term success of their salespeople and companies.”

“The Future of Sales Compensation” includes exclusive interviews with sales compensation leaders at Google, Microsoft, US Foods, CareerBuilder, Xactly Corporation, Anaplan and more. A vital resource for sales compensation professionals and sales leadership, the book offers a comprehensive look at the most current trends in the profession. Additionally, it equips sales compensation leaders with groundbreaking ideas to help them create, implement and manage best-in-class sales incentive plans in the years to come.

Sales leaders often struggle to make improvements to their compensation plans because the risk of change can seem greater than the upside of innovation

Key debate and changing workforce

The book explores the ongoing debate over drivers of sales force motivation and the importance of intrinsic (e.g., autonomy, flexible work hours) versus extrinsic (e.g., cash) incentives. The authors analyze both sides of the debate, citing the latest research and implications for the future.

With the rise of millennials – who will make up roughly 50 percent of the workforce by 2020 – and Generation Z (people born from 1995 onward), the authors also reveal how to motivate an evolving workforce. The book offers insights into how sales leaders can move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to incentive compensation and toward more personalized (e.g., pick your own plan), technology-enabled models.

“The millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers who comprise the sales force today have vastly different motivational preferences,” Marley said. “Sales compensation professionals cannot assume cash is king for everyone. Therefore, they need to work to understand the factors that drive their diverse sales force, find new ways to deploy incentive programs with tools such as games and leverage the latest technology to create more tailored plans.”

“The Future of Sales Compensation” also offers leaders the knowledge and tools they need to:

  • Realize the potential of predictive analytics and improve sales compensation plan design through the use of forward-looking insights.
  • Capitalize on advancements in technology and software applications for the sales force.
  • Apply the latest research to compensation plan design.
  • Use effective change management to successfully roll out new compensation features and plans.

“The Future of Sales Compensation” is available on For more details, visit here.





About the Authors
Chad Albrecht is a principal at ZS in Chicago and a leader in the firm’s sales compensation practice. Albrecht, a certified sales compensation professional (CSCP), has nearly 20 years of consulting experience with Hewitt Associates and ZS. During that time, he has consulted with clients to create and implement motivational sales incentive plans and to set fair and challenging sales quotas. Albrecht has worked with clients in many industries, including high-tech, travel, business services, medical devices, telecom, distribution and manufacturing. He is the author of several articles in industry publications such as Compensation & Benefits Review and WorldatWork Journal. He is also a frequent contributor to ZS’s The Carrot, the most widely read blog on the topic of sales compensation, and is a regular speaker on sales compensation topics at multiple conferences.
Steve Marley is a principal at ZS in Chicago and the leader of the firm’s sales performance management (SPM) practice area. Marley holds the certified sales compensation professional (CSCP) designation and has more than 10 years of sales compensation consulting experience spanning a variety of industries, including software, distribution, financial services, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. He has helped companies design effective compensation plans, set motivating quotas and implement efficient compensation administration programs. His current focus is helping companies transition from thinking about monetary incentives to thinking more holistically about motivation, engagement and incentives. Marley has also helped companies in a variety of other areas, including territory design, placement, go-to-market strategy, communication and sales force effectiveness. He is a regular presenter at the WorldatWork Total Rewards and Spotlight on Sales Compensation conferences and in various webinars. He is also a frequent contributor to ZS’s The Carrot, the most widely read blog on the topic of sales compensation.
About ZS
ZS is the world’s largest firm focused exclusively on helping companies improve overall performance and grow revenue and market share, through end-to-end sales and marketing solutions – from customer insights and strategy to analytics, operations and technology. More than 4,500 ZS professionals in 22 offices worldwide draw on deep industry and domain expertise to deliver impact for clients across multiple industries. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.