Mostly metrics
Run the Numbers
A Crash Course in Sales Compensation With CJ Gustafson

A Crash Course in Sales Compensation With CJ Gustafson

In this, the first solo episode of Run the Numbers, our host CJ Gustafson gives a crash course in sales compensation. He explains how to go about designing sales rep comp plans, covering who’s involved in this process, getting the base to variable split right, on-target earnings ratios, how to baseline core achievement, the role of accelerators, what actually counts as a booking, and comp plan flaws, referencing Salesforce's early comp plans as a case study. He also delves into the art and science of SPIFs (Sales Performance Incentive Funds), explaining why SPIFs succeed or fail, the best times to run one, and how you should structure them. He finishes the episode talking about paying sales reps, commission rates and benchmarks for account executives, and what the total commission stack should look like after you factor in everybody.

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@cjgustafson222 (CJ)


(00:00) Preview and Intro

(01:44) Sponsor - Maxio | Leapfin

(03:58) Designing Sales Rep Comp Plans

(06:09) Getting the Split Right

(10:41) Baselining Core Achievement

(13:29) Sponsor - Mercury | NetSuite

(15:24) Accelerators

(18:05) Paying Sales Managers

(19:21) Case Study: Salesforce - Cash, Years, and ACV

(22:15) What Counts as a Booking

(23:15) Comp Plan Flaws

(25:31) An Introduction to SPIFs

(26:42) Why SPIFs Fail

(29:25) Where SPIFs Succeed

(30:23) Good Times to Do a SPIF

(33:37) SPIF Structures That You Can Copy

(35:28) Strategy Recap

(37:48) Paying Sales Reps

(40:44) The Total Commission Stack

(43:40) Factors That Can Push the Stack Higher

(45:15) Wrap

Mostly metrics
Run the Numbers
Run the Numbers is a twice-weekly podcast about financial metrics and business models, designed for ambitious people operating tech startups. It's a collection of things host CJ Gustafson (CFO at Partstech and writer of Mostly Metrics) has learned and thought about in the trenches as a tech CFO.
This show is meant to serve as a playbook of sorts for the stuff CJ wishes he knew earlier in his career, both from experience and from copying people smarter than himself.
Topics frequently touch upon Startup SaaS Metrics, Annual Budgeting, Financial Forecasting, Headcount, Equity, Dilution, and Fundraising – and how all of these drive business performance and growth.