Zuora Upgrades to Xactly Incent in Support of Rapid Business Growth
Testimonials & Case Studies / Zuora
“Xactly Incent has quickly become an integral part of our business, with people logging in regularly, seeing what they need to see, and asking the right questions. It’s really become a ‘known tool’ around here. In that respect, it’s been an awesome transition.”
Brooke Wagner, Business Operations Manager, Zuora
Fast-growing Zuora is the global leader in subscription commerce and billing, helping companies in every industry transition to the Subscription Economy. Enterprise leaders and high-growth companies alike use Zuora's multi-tenant cloud platform to launch, scale, and monetize their subscription services.
A highly successful SaaS company, Zuora offers a variety of subscription products with multiple elements and a high degree of complexity from an accounting perspective. For example, commissions are paid on the basis of partial cash collection with ACV, TCV and PS all potentially having different rates, thus putting a delay between the close of a deal and payment of commissions.
As a young company with just 10 sales reps and a handful of solutions engineers, Zuora used to rely on spreadsheets to administer sales compensation. But as its field force expanded, it became clear that managing such a complex operation would be impossible without enlisting the aid of automation.
Zuora’s first step into automated compensation management came in 2010 with the selection of Xactly Express as its sales compensation platform. A fully multi-tenant application geared to small and mid-sized companies, Express was a perfect fit for Zuora at the time because it provided the ideal combination of on-demand access, Salesforce CRM integration, and easy platform scalability – all with the flexibility of subscription based pricing.
Xactly Express proved to be a good choice. But in 2011, as Zuora’s growth continued to accelerate, the company saw the need to take its compensation management to the next level and be even more strategic and efficient in how it incented its sales force.
Once again, Zuora turned to Xactly.
Benefits at a Glance
- Real-time compensation visibility
- Increased sales motivation and performance
- Improved cash collection
- Better process accuracy
- Increased operational efficiency
- Enhanced business agility
In the fall of 2011, Zuora transitioned its Xactly implementation from Xactly Express to Xactly Incent, the market-leading incentive and sales performance management suite.
“Xactly Express took us over the threshold by enabling us to automate commissions. It was a great solution for the stage Zuora was at during that time,” said Brooke Wagner, business operations manager, Zuora. “But with the rate we were growing, a move to Incent just made sense. We wanted to go a step or two further with our compensation management and be able to leverage the customizable nature and advanced features of Xactly Incent, such as analytics and automated comp plan routing. I had used Incent at a previous company and knew it was a powerful solution that could scale and grow with our changing business demands.”
Along with licensing Xactly Incent, Zuora licensed Xactly eDocs & Approvals modules, as well as Xactly Delta, which automates the consolidation of compensation-related data from diverse sources across an enterprise. Incent was so easy to deploy that Wagner was able to manage the bulk of the implementation personally.
“While I could do a lot of the backend work on my own, it was nice to be able to turn to Xactly to enhance the implementation of Incent,” says Wagner. “I was able to ask questions around what Xactly saw other companies our size doing, as well as general questions around compensation practices, and I received fast informative answers each time. Overall, the transition went really, really well, and people here were excited by its smoothness.”
The conversion also went quickly. The initial switchover was accomplished within just four weeks, with Zuora going “live” with Incent in October 2011. The company also integrated Xactly training into its enablement and education program for new sales hires, establishing it as a strategic tool to drive revenues and profits.
“Xactly Incent has quickly become an integral part of our business, with people logging in regularly, seeing what they need to see, and asking the right questions,” claims Wagner. “It’s really become a ‘known tool’ around here, with people talking about their ‘Xactly statement.’ In that respect, it’s been an awesome transition.”
Real-time Compensation Visibility
When using spreadsheets, visibility was hit or miss, dependent on hours of pouring over Excel and manually crunching numbers. Xactly Express changed this, making life easier for finance and giving management a much greater degree of visibility into core business operations. With the move to Xactly Incent, Zuora elected to extend real-time compensation visibility to the field with extremely positive results.
“We have synched Incent with Salesforce CRM in such a way that the entire sales team enjoys real-time visibility into their commissions, which is important going forward given the complexity of our commission structure,” says Wagner. “People will sell something today, and tomorrow they will see it reflected accurately in Incent. This is a huge win for us in that it has built credibility with the sales team and increased their motivation.”
Improved Sales Performance and Cash Collection
Sales performance at Zuora has improved in multiple ways with the introduction first of Express and then Incent. For one, compensation is now a motivation, and not a concern. With real-time visibility into commission, reps are able to explore the details of specific payments simply by clicking on them to drill down for more information.
“Cash is king, and when it comes in commission payments are released,” explains Wagner. “Reps had a problem of not knowing when something was going to be paid. But with Incent, where everything is expressed as either a ‘held’ or ‘released’ value, it’s very clear for them. This really helps reps continue to focus on the deals they’ve closed, because they have a vested interest. If they aren’t getting paid, they can plainly see where they have to go to investigate why and address the issue.”
Better Process Accuracy
Xactly has also helped Zuora improve the accuracy of sales compensation processing. Zuora's finance team can import sales numbers directly from Salesforce CRM and export calculated results for payroll within the application, helping avoid transcription errors, and removing the variability of spreadsheets.
“Xactly is the dispute killer,” claims Wagner. “The numbers can be trusted to be right. And if you doubt them, you can drill down to the details and see for yourself how they were derived.”Increased Operational Efficiency
Zuora’s initial move to Xactly, using Express, removed spreadsheets from the compensation management process and greatly streamlined it as a result. The transition to Incent streamlined the process even further.
“We have gone from spending a couple of days at the end of each month and quarter figuring out precisely what to pay people, to me taking just a few hours right before payroll,” says Wagner. “This translates into me being able to spend less time just noodling numbers and more time on the strategy behind how we pay our sales team.”
Enhanced Business Agility
The use of Xactly has also helped increase Zuora’s agility in regards to sales compensation. Changes to incentive programs and plans can now be easily made in mid-course, giving the company unprecedented flexibility in how it leverages incentive compensation.
“Changes can be very easily implemented in Incent,” observes Wagner. “It’s quick enough so that we can think of something today, such as a SPIFF or special bonus that will spur performance, and then roll it out at the beginning of the next month. And we have the time available now to think of these things and get them just right, which we didn’t have before.”
Now that Xactly Incent is entrenched as a strategic tool at Zuora, the company is planning to ramp up use of the Xactly eDocs & Approvals module to automate the accelerate rep sign-off on their compensation plans, and to provide a full audit trail of the approval process in support of compliance.
Concludes Wagner, “We are extremely pleased with our Xactly relationship, first with Xactly Express and now with Xactly Incent. Xactly solutions have supported us appropriately at each stage of our business growth.”