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STAMFORD, Conn, April 10, 2019

Gartner Says 49 Percent of Account Managers’ Sales Revenue Goals Don’t Distinguish Between Retention and Growth

New Research Reveals Account Growth Stalling, Compensation Plans Must Be Redesigned to Focus on Driving Growth

Forty-nine percent of account managers have a single revenue goal that makes no distinction between retention and growth, according to Gartner, Inc. However, sales leaders note that account growth is an essential component to meeting their organization’s revenue goals, yet only 28 percent report their account management channels regularly meet cross-selling and account growth targets.

“In most cases, sales reps look to account growth as a last resort,” said Craig Riley, senior principal analyst at Gartner. “This is because today’s sales compensation plans fail to motivate sales reps to grow their accounts; instead single-metric plans allow sales reps to receive most of their variable pay from renewals.”

The median proportion of sales reps’ overall goal assigned to growth accounts for only 9 percent of sales reps’ variable pay, which is not reflective of the time and effort required to grow accounts, according to Gartner. In addition, Gartner research also shows that many sellers don’t actually understand how they will be paid, with only 24 percent of sales reps able to easily calculate their total variable compensation.

“It’s not surprising that organizations struggle to use their incentive program to drive account growth,” added Mr. Riley. “If sellers don’t understand how they will be paid, then it is very hard to use compensation to motivate them to perform in a specific way.”

To solve this problem, Gartner recommends sales leaders re-evaluate how they compensate sales reps to better incentivize account growth. Specifically, sales leaders should follow three key steps to identify and implement appropriate compensation plan changes to drive growth:

  • Identify Where and How Sales Efforts Fall Short: Sales leaders should diagnose whether sales rep behavior is aligned with strategic goals by evaluating current sales performance on renewals, cross-sells/upsells and new revenue against projections and growth targets.
  • Include Account Growth in Compensation Plans: Motivate sellers using single-metric plans to grow their accounts by using thresholds and pay accelerators to limit their ability to earn incentive pay via renewals only.
  • Ensure Sales Rep Understanding: Improve multimetric plans’ ability to motivate sellers by having each metric account for at least 15 percent of on-target earnings (OTE) and limiting compensation plans to no more than four metrics.

Additional details are available to Gartner for Sales Leaders clients in the report “How to Use Compensation Metrics to Drive Account Growth.”

About Gartner for Sales Leaders

Gartner for Sales Leaders provides heads of sales and their teams with the insights, advice and tools they need to address mission-critical priorities amid mounting pressures to drive growth through new and existing customers. With extensive qualitative and quantitative research, Gartner for Sales Leaders helps sales teams combat commoditization and price-based purchasing, develop critical manager and seller skills, elevate the value of sales interactions, unlock existing growth potential and optimize sales force enablement.

About the Gartner CSO & Sales Leaders Conference

Sales leaders face unprecedented changes in customer expectations, technology and the talent needed to drive results. At the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, taking place September 17-19, 2019 in Las Vegas, sales leaders will learn from the latest research and Gartner experts covering sales talent, customer buying behavior, account-based marketing strategies and leveraging digital channels. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerSales.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit