Advice: "My company just changed the comp plan. Should I speak up or leave?"

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Dear Quota Team,

I work for a medical technology company and we work with a specific medical device. I have been at my company for almost three years. I am a top rep (I finished in the top 5% the past two years). I love the product I sell and have made more money here than anywhere I have ever worked. I really enjoy working with our customers and selling what I sell. 

The company recently underwent some serious leadership changes, and all three founders were replaced. The new leadership team had communicated that they want honesty, integrity, and open communication. They claim they want the sales team to be able to use their PTO (lol). They seem to be moving in a good direction, however, they recently raised goals and PIP requirements and a lot of people got fired/PIPed out. Obviously, I was unaffected, but what concerns me is that they also created a new arm of our sales department, which is essentially doing our same job, except they don’t need to deal with insurance deals at all – strictly cash, which, as you can imagine, are easier to work/close without all the red tape of insurance.

Here's the problem: the new team's commission structure is different, and in my opinion, worse. It's a draw commission plan and right now that's not how my area is set up. Currently, my area gets paid a very low base (30k/year) with uncapped commission that has tiers up until you hit goal. Anything after goal is paid at the highest tier. I love this system. It's motivating and extremely profitable for me. I made very close to 170k last year.

The new kids are on a draw system. Their base pay is 55k and their OTE is the same, however, the way they get there is much different. While my performance is measured by achieving monthly targets, theirs is monthly and quarterly, so it averages out. So basically, they do not have the opportunity to get a fat commission check because if they perform 120% to plan one month, and then 110% the following month in the same quarter, they lose that 10% difference, as in, it gets subtracted from their paycheck. 

On the flip side, if someone is not performing well, they owe the company money. This new team was told they would be billed if they did not hit minimum targets. Basically I did the math and it appears that they want to cap commissions at 95k. They are calling this a "pilot program" with the new team, however, there have been signs they’re planning to roll this structure out to our whole sales team.

My question is: since the new leadership has made it clear they want open communication & honesty, should I schedule a meeting and share my thoughts about why I'm not okay with this structure? My hesitation is that, in my experience, all corporate executives are hypocritical liars, and truly full of shit, so it may fall on deaf ears. On the other hand, (and this is what I want to believe), if they mean what they say, they might value my opinion as I have single-handedly brought in almost 2million dollars for the company. Or should I say nothing and just find another job with a higher OTE? I'm sorry, I know this was long. Thanks for taking the time.

Conflicted in the Midwest

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Dear Conflicted,

Oh boy. This was a long one (though we appreciate you writing in). There was a lot to wade through, so we had to call in an expert. Thankfully, we know Ryan Walsh, Founder and CEO of RepVue, who is an expert on sales compensation. He agreed to give us a hand. 

Here’s what he said. Firstly, “not all execs are hypocritical liars” (true), but, putting that aside, “This is a very antiquated type of structure, even in an industry that's behind in terms of modern compensation practices (med device).” 

So what’s his advice? “I think you should do both, i.e. start looking/start your search NOW, get a few opportunities lined up that look promising AND, once you have a clear path where you could exit with minimal life/income disruption, you should voice your concerns clearly (in the spirit of transparency). Hopefully you'll get more than just lip service but you should be able to read between the lines.”

We agree! Lastly, Ryan adds that he “agrees that it's doubtful they'd maintain two completely separate comp plan types like this,” which means that you’re probably right about them eventually rolling it out to the rest of the team, so make sure to keep that in mind when making your decision. Thanks for writing in and we wish you the best of luck!

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