Research on Planning Practices in Incentive Compensation and Sales Quota Management

20 May 2023


Recent SMA research shows that among all sales planning activities, management considers most important to the sales organization’s success the planning it does related to incentive compensation and salesperson quotas. Yet only four in ten firms consider their sales compensation and quota related planning efforts effective.

In this study, we examine the planning practices that differentiate firms effective in incentive compensation and sales quota related planning, and establish the activities, timelines, and capabilities that distinguish their efforts. The research quantifies the business value of effective planning by correlating specific planning activities with planning effectiveness and with firm sales productivity. The research identifies emerging trends in planning practice, and establishes a framework for prioritizing improvement efforts in sales compensation and quota related planning.

Condition of Participation

Research participants are asked to complete an online survey lasting approximately 15 minutes, and may optionally elect to participate in a brief telephone follow-up interview.

Participation Eligibility

The study is open to management practitioners responsible for or who have full knowledge of incentive compensation- and quota-related planning affecting their organizations’ sales force. Target participants are involved in executive leadership, strategic planning, sales effectiveness, sales operations, commercial excellence, or sales leadership in organizations with at least US$10 million in annual revenue, or directly employing at least 10 salespeople. Firms or individuals that market technology, products, or services to sales organizations as a core offering are not eligible to participate in this research initiative.

Benefits of Participation

Participants receive:

  • A copy of the findings report on this research topic
  • An invitation to a Sales Management Association webcast in which summary findings are presented to our audience in Q3 2023.


Survey results are only reported in aggregate, and never in a way that would compromise the identity of any single respondent. All individual respondent data are treated with strict confidentiality, and will not be distributed.

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