Five Sales Compensation Trends and Takeaways from the WorldatWork Conference

Over 400 sales compensation experts gathered in Chicago last week at WorldatWork’s Spotlight on Sales Compensation conference. The Optymyze team attended the three-day marathon event covering the hottest trends and newest technologies in sales compensation. Here are the most exciting trends that grabbed attention throughout the show, together with our takeaways:

  1. Agile in complex environments

Managing sales compensation in complex, global environments was probably the hottest topic discussed at the show. People who came to our booth wanted to learn more about managing and adapting sales compensation during rapid business growth or merger and acquisition activity, and also about large enterprise deployments, including setting up corporate centers of excellence.

Sales organizations need configurable software solutions that allow them to respond to the constant demand for change. During big organizational change, agile sales compensation management helps companies harmonize business processes while remaining flexible to opportunities.


  1. The power of innovation

To keep up with competition, sales organizations have to embrace technology and unlock themselves from old patterns. Compensation is yet another area in which they have to break out of the old “as is” mindset. In the future, it will become even clearer that multiple, homegrown, error-prone solutions won’t save money or deliver the expected outcomes. This is why more companies are expected to join the “party” of those who already get the full benefits of a single, certified system.

  1. Building credibility

Sales compensation managers realize the need to build credibility among the sales force and company executives. They can do that by providing accurate compensation data, well-designed plans, and by reacting quickly to change. This will create confidence that the data is accurate and can indeed lead to increased sales performance.

  1. Sales analytics need the right combination of software and experts

Every large company sits on piles of data yearning to be interpreted. Many sales organizations describe themselves as “very data-driven,” but surveys reveal that 74% are worried their data is incomplete or missing.

Sales compensation data has to be error-free and reliable. When organizations incentivize employees on bad data, they later struggle to fix payments.

Besides analyzing big sales data, organizations also need smooth business processes and experts that know what to interpret and how to manage automation.

  1. Sales Operations: more than a data reporter

“The struggle for sales ops is to be seen as a strategic partner, not just a data reporter” – this line has been tweeted and discussed during the World at Work event for good reason. Sales forces are expanding in a lot of territories to support business growth. According to research, almost seven in ten companies plan to increase the size of their sales force this year, making the sales ops burden even heavier.

burden-of-sales-operationsSales operations should have a seat at the table for the sales strategy discussion. To overcome the status quo, sales ops must reduce administrative work, to focus more on the future and what is coming next. At the WorldatWork event, SiriusDecisions also examined how sales ops functions evolve and the differences between centralized and decentralized functions. Alignment between centralized and regional sales operations is critical to achieving goals.

Other hot sales compensation trends included the rising interest in gamification, contests, and non-cash rewards.

The event hit a record number of attendees this year and was a great opportunity to discuss all these exciting trends and showcase Optymyze technology and expertise. We demonstrated how we used agile sales compensation management tools and processes to help McKesson Medical-Surgical go through complex integration triggered by a large acquisition. Our team presented the case study together with the client. This joint presentation underscored the value of the long-term partnership that as-a-service can bring.

The Technology Showcase was also very valuable. Optymyze had overflow crowds for each demo! That’s just one more reason to look forward to next year’s event.

Learn more about how you can make changes to your incentive compensation plans from our dedicated whitepaper.

Ken Bjorkelo

Executive Vice President

Ken has over 20 years of consulting, business transformation, and technology enablement experience for diverse clients and industries.

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