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Sales Performance Management: A Time of Change

The Sales Performance Management (SPM) market saw a wave of investment in 2017. There were acquisitions in publicly traded SPM companies, while others received external investments, like the $35 million Goldman Sachs investment beqom received. All of these movements translate into the expansion of the SPM market, with an increase in the capabilities of the solutions offered.  

In a recent webinar, beqom SPM Product Strategist John Weeks spoke with Chris Wales, Intangent CEO, to discuss how these investments are shaping the future of the SPM market, and the emerging trends that they are witnessing.

Three emerging trends in SPM

1. Growing beyond incentive compensation

Commission processing continues to be the core challenge in SPM. As solutions aim to cover the many moving parts of an incentive compensation strategy, they have expanded to address additional business processes that have posed a challenge for a sales ops function, including territory and quota planning.

The regulatory landscape is also changing, and to meet new rules, such as ASC 606/IFRS 15 accounting regulations, there has been the implementation of additional commission expense accounting capabilities.   

The result for the customer is that they are investing into an evolving solution that not only covers their sales commission processing but allows them to deal with the whole end-to-end sale operations process. 

2. Predictive capabilities: opening the door to the future

The benefit of investing in incentive compensation is not just moving data processing from a manual to an automated fashion. It is also from the creation of new data in a structured environment. This new data set is opening doors for analysis that were not available to sales operations function previously. These new data sets, as well as the modern tools that are available in both the core SPM solution suites as well as more widely adopted analytics tools to drive further analysis, is starting to take shape.

Two groups of analysis are occurring:

Historical assessment

  • Are my incentive programs effective today?
  • Have they been effective in the past?
  • What has happened and why?

Predictive capabilities

  • How can I optimize my sales performance?
  • If I make this change, what will happen to both me as a sales rep, and my entire sales organization?
  • How does sales structure and time impact my incentive pay?

Moving from manual to fully automated processes, means that answering the above questions, with an advanced level of analysis is made much easier.  

A feedback loop can also be incorporated into the overall process, allowing all stakeholders to have a clear view and participate in discussions that cover:

  • What is the best way to incentivize the sales organization?
  • How can we grow faster?
  • How can we align the sales team with the organization strategy?

3. Empowering the business users

As software innovation continues, people have become more adept at using it, leading to an increase in productivity when using technology than they have been in the past. As the business users are increasingly empowered, individuals are now responsible for what used to take a team of people. By replacing the administrative burden of spreadsheet-based systems with automated processes, one person can now execute sales commissions while having time to optimize territories or use a data-driven approach to setting quotas for the organization. They can then report all of this through a feedback loop of analysis.     

The expansion of the suite, the introduction of analytical capabilities, and the increasing skillset of the sales operation function are three emerging trends that will convince organizations of the value of having a best of breed solution. The continued rate of innovation looks set to define how users will manage their end-to-end sales operation process, meeting the requirements of not only today but for the future.

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