Are you committed to a career in sales commission management? Do you enjoy making sure your reps are always paid the right amount and on time? Do you love leveraging the power of cloud software to automate commissions? Are you on a mission to improve sales commissions within your organization?
If so, the Certified Sales Compensation Professional Certification could make sense. However, is it really worth the cost, time, and effort? Are you even ready for the CSCP? Is the CSCP well recognized? At Sales Cookie, we’re passionate about automating commissions. Here’s our take on the CSCP.
The CSCP Certification
CSCP stands for Certified Sales Compensation Professional. While other other organizations offer some commission-related certifications, WorldatWork delivers a pedigree which is reasonably well-recognized within the Sales Ops community. Certified individuals demonstrate a broad understanding of commission structures, incentive management, and much more. Also, the CSCP certification is quite specific to commissions, and it comes with some worldwide recognition, making it more portable than other more obscure certifications.
WorldatWork helps commission professionals learn more about Sales Operations and excel in their position. They offer many training programs whose level of difficulty range from beginner to expert. They publish online contents such as magazines, guides, surveys, etc. They are well known for organizing conferences, allowing sales ops leaders to network and share best practices. Some of their events focus on narrow subjects (ex: executive team benefits). Others are more general and geared towards a broader audience. Finally, they certify sales commission professionals via the CSCP certification.
Preparing For The CSCP
There is no official course for the CSCP. The CSCP tests knowledge acquired on the job. Therefore, real-world experience with commissions is required before considering taking the CSCP. It’s not enough to simply read general content about sales commissions. Those rarely don’t cover all the tricky “gotchas” associated with commissions.
If you’ve never had to implement a claw-back, you’re probably not ready for the CSCP. In general, a minimum of 2 years of experience in sales ops is necessary to acquire the knowledge required to pass the exam (as per their website). Sales commissions is a complex subject which takes time to master.
Because commission structures (and associated implementation challenges) vary widely from company to company, having experience managing commissions for multiple companies is a good idea. Attending events and conferences related to sales commissions can also help you learn about different permutations.
Some experience with commission software solutions is also a must. A solid understanding of key mechanisms fundamental to sales commissions is required, including:
- Crediting / splits / rollups
- Attainment / quotas / tiers
- Claw-backs / manual adjustments / corrections
- Recoverable / non-recoverable draws
- Variables / OTE compensation
- Incentive spend / budgeting
- Payroll execution
For example, if your experience is limited to payroll execution, consider broadening your knowledge to other areas of sales commissions before taking the exam. Most candidates for the CSCP have contributed to plan design and implementation.
CSCP Exam Topics
The CSCP test encompasses 70 different topics! The CSCP certification evaluates your knowledge of sales commission in different categories such as:
- Sales roles & plan eligibility
- Commission plan design
- Communicating incentive plans
- Sales objectives & attainment
- Incentive spend analysis
- Plan administration
CSCP Total Cost
First, consider joining WorldatWork for a discount. Then, expect to spend about $1000 on the exam. Note you can save money by taking the much cheaper “practice” exam to make sure you are ready. You also have to account for your own time while preparing for the CSCP. We’ll leave this exercise to your discretion.
Even if you fail the CSCP, you’ll have gained a ton of knowledge while preparing for the exam. Most candidates succeed on the first or second attempt. It’s OK to fail and re-take the exam as it’s not an easy one. Also, it may take one full “run” to really know what to expect and improve.
Finally, consider asking your company to pay for the exam. Some companies reimburse exam costs if their employees pass. Others reimburse exam costs regardless of success. In any case, your organization would greatly benefit from having a CSCP-certified employee on payroll.
Is The CSCP Really Worth It?
Don’t expect a lot of companies to ask for the CSCP certification in their job postings. By any means, the certification is not considered prestigious – nor is it a must-have for commission-related positions. Indeed, the certification is delivered by a for-profit organization, so there is no clear quality benchmark.
However, what the CSCP does is demonstrate some clear motivation from you. It provides clear evidence that you are on a path to master sales commissions. Also, you’ll gain much knowledge while preparing for the exam. More importantly, this knowledge will benefit many people around you.
For example, it will help you:
- Create more successful commission plans
- Ensure your reps are happy and motivated
- Improve commission transparency
- Handle tricky commission-related scenarios
- Help your company better manage spend
- Reduce stress on the sales ops team
- Mentor other sales ops professionals
- Connect with other top Sales Ops professionals
The CSCP exam is specialized yet covers broad topics. It requires prior real-world experience with commissions. WorldatWork is a private for-profit organization, so recognition is limited. Your CSCP certification probably won’t impress your VP. However, getting certified is guaranteed to benefit you in the long run. It will help you join an exclusive club of highly motivated and skilled Sales Ops pros. To learn more about sales commissions, visit our blog salescommissionsexplained.