“If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings

and put compensation as a carrier behind it you almost don’t have to manage them.”

– Jack Welch, American Business Executive


As industry compensation standards for Channel Account Managers (CAMs) continue to evolve, how can you define a comprehensive compensation structure that aligns your sales and partners to your business objectives in support of transformation?

To answer this question, AchieveUnite collected data from a series of industry benchmark assessments and identified 4 compensation trends driving growth, transformation, and recurring revenue in companies. Below, we analyze these 4 trends and show you how they apply to your business.


1. Emphasis on Business Outcomes and Skills – “Revenue Based” Plans Are Morphing

Today in the SaaS environment, we’re seeing a decrease in the level of technical expertise required when working with a customer. Most SaaS products only require configuration knowledge and not extensive technical expertise. Because of this, the dynamic of teams is shifting as companies require their sales teams to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on sales engineers in the sales and implementation process.

For example, previously an account may have required one CAM and one Sales Engineer (SE), whereas today, we often see one SE supporting five CAMS on multiple accounts. This shift is lowering business costs and impacting the skill requirements and compensation plans of CAMs. Requirements around customer satisfaction have become part of their bonus goals, and CAMs now see requirements related to the entire onboarding journey in their plans.


2. Segmentation to Maximize Productivity

Now that you are aware of the expanded role of a CAM, how do you assign partners to CAMS to take advantage of their best skills and maximum productivity? Partner segmentation along with CAM assessments is a strategy used to understand the strengths, weakness, and potential of your CAM, allowing you to align them with specific partners to maximize their skills. Consider the following:


Pinpoint Your Hunters and Farmers

If you’re a sales professional or interact with a sales team, you know there are two types of salespeople—the hunter and the farmer. The hunter enjoys finding new partners, landing the deal, and closing the opportunity, whereas the farmer is relationship-driven and appreciates the cultivation of long-term partnerships. As a company, you must differentiate between the hunter and the farmer when defining your CAM-type roles. Your compensation plan cannot be one-size-fits-all. To maximize performance, you need to develop multiple compensation plans that fit the styles and behaviors of your unique sales force.

For example, the compensation plan for the hunters on your team may prioritize KPIs around finding, onboarding, and activating new partners and opportunities. While the compensation plan for the farmers may prioritize overall growth or strategic goals.


Leverage Distribution for Your “Long Tail”

In the channel, the Pareto Principle or the 80-20 rules states that 20% of your partners account for 80% of your revenue. In practice, this rule often becomes 90-10, which is an alarming percentage. With 10% of your partners accounting for 90% of your revenue, there is no room for error. As a company, you must spend a significant amount of time and energy ensuring those in the top 10% are growing and performing at the highest level.

But what about the other 90% of your partners, known as your long tail? How do you provide the appropriate level of support to make sure these partners can perform and grow at their highest level?

The answer is through the assistance of distribution and allowing them to manage your long tails. Of course, you will need to assign a CAM to the distributor and then develop a compensation plan for both the distributors and CAMs with special incentives to motivate individual partners and segment growth.


 3. Companies in Transition to SaaS

As your company continues the transition to SaaS, how do you effectively motivate the behaviors of your internal selling teams and partners to make this switch? An answer may be to use a differentiated compensation model to emphasize and accelerate the selling of the SaaS product within your market, and de-emphasize the internal and partner focus on the non-SaaS offering.

Let’s say your CAMs typically receive $1 for every non-SaaS product sold. When introducing the SaaS version of this product, instead of keeping the compensation rate at $1, consider reducing the compensation rate to $.50 for the non-SaaS product and increasing the compensation rate to $1.50 for the SaaS product. This adjustment de-emphasizes the focus on the non-SaaS product and drives selling behavior in favor of the new SaaS product, as selling more of the SaaS product will allow CAMs/PAMs to achieve their goals faster.

Remember, if you choose to emphasize (or de-emphasize) a product with your internal teams, you need to do the same with your partners, ensuring priorities and compensation plans align.


4. Customer Success

You’ve now motivated your CAMs and partners to sell SaaS. But now you need to understand that the simpler times of landing a deal, getting paid, and then walking away are no longer. The SaaS sales model requires deliberate attention and nurturing, and compensation plans need to ensure a product not only lands but is also activated, expanded, and renewed by the end-user.

In the SaaS world, customer success roles are critical in helping guarantee product adoption, activation, and expansion. After you land the sale, who from your company is ensuring the product is being implemented correctly and then consistently used? This role needs to be explicitly defined, and your partners need to be aware this person exists. When adoption, activation, and expansion happen successfully, renewal is virtually guaranteed, and revenue is secured.



When considering the compensation plan for your CAMs, keep these four trends top of mind and remember that the compensation plans you build give you the power to align behavior and drive transformation toward a unified goal. Is your compensation plan structure up to par?


As we continue with this 3 part series, we’ll uncover industry-leading best practices for your compensation structure to help your company achieve maximum growth and revenue. Stay tuned!