Most everyone can agree that increased sales productivity is linked to the automation of processes. Not only does automation give salespeople more time to sell, but employees at all levels and across departments are freed up to devote more time to key parts of an organization’s strategy. This trend toward integrating technology will continue to grow, as it has in the past. But successful process automation and implementation can only be measured by the degree to which professionals are enabled to exert greater control and influence over an organization’s sales operations.
Automation is key
Typically, sales enablement departments—staffed by an array of sales compensation specialists and IT analysts—manage the automated processes that have transformed the way a sales force gets paid. As with administrative resources, IT functions include maintaining and supporting the systems, overseeing the processing of compensation payments and managing system errors.
But difficulties with poorly designed compensation tools quickly lead to sales compensation problems, which inevitably cause IT experts—the people you hired for their knowledge, insight, and strategic thinking– to spend an inordinate amount of time diagnosing and solving system errors, and ensuring that the compensation system communicates with other systems.
Oftentimes organizations must pay high fees to license third-party software that will enable infrastructure maintenance and upgrades. In fact, sales departments frequently incur “opportunity” costs, as staffers are busy tackling problems rather than innovating.
An effective sales performance management tool—one that doesn’t eat more time than it frees up—must encompass three main characteristics: it needs to be intuitive, powerful and flexible.
Sales performance management tools must be readily understood. Those most successful at driving adoption and enabling users to make informed decisions are designed from the ground up with information displayed in accessible and actionable ways. Employee hierarchy, sales and performance metrics are just a few examples of the key information that everyone on the sales force needs to be able to easily access.
SPM tools need to be simple yet powerful enough to allow users to troubleshoot issues and accommodate changes that might occur during schedule planning. Compensation admins often have update employee information and bonus targets, or even make adjustments during tight compensation cycles.
Finally, flexibility is paramount to the success of any sales performance management solution because the technology must allow administrators to implement different compensation processes at any given time. Territory management, quota management, and long-term incentive compensation planning are key components of an efficient compensation management tool. Since the workflow, schedule, budget and guidelines for sales divisions within distinct industries may differ significantly, an efficient compensation management tool should enable the deployment of any combination of these components.
A platform that leverages technology to enable people, an organization’s most valuable resource, to perform at their highest capabilities is integral to creating and retaining an engaged, productive sales force, which is the foundation of any sales organization’s strategy. It is the best internal investment a company can make.
This article is part of a series dubbed The Cost of Doing Nothing.
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