How Best-In-Class Companies Maximize Sales Comp

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Ronald Sierra
Ronald Sierra
In Incentive Compensation, Sales Performance Management
Ron Sierra is a Content Writer at Xactly. He earned a literature degree from UCSC and specializes in creating value-driven content for professionals in everything from construction to tech to sales & finance.

This week, Xactly held a webinar to help sales managers optimize their sales compensation plans and benchmark their company’s incentive compensation strategy against competitors. Speaker Matt Larson, Product Growth Manager for Xactly, began the webcast with the one question every sales management leader inevitably asks.

Am I Normal?

When you were in high school, you probably wanted to make sure your blue jeans were the accepted norm. When you took the SAT, you NEEDED to know how your scores compared to others. Now that you’re a sales professional, the “normalcy” question is even more important, because your company’s sales success depends on it. By “normal,” sales leaders are really asking:

  • Am I paying my salespeople the same as my competitors?
  • Am I motivating them to meet quotas without “over-motivating” them financially?
  • Am I leaving myself exposed to sales team churn?

The good news? There is no shortage of insight to propel sales performance. Larson walked webinar attendees through the Xactly solutions best-in-class companies rely on. He showcased how Xactly Insight™ drives up the value of benchmarking through filters that let you analyze sales performance: globally, locally; against your sector; against bigger, same size or smaller competitors; over the long term or just the last week.

Download our "Ultimate Guide to Sales Planning Season," for everything you need for a sales comp plan design project. Or, keep reading for more sales plan ideas.

What’s critical here is that sales leaders take an inquisitive approach in order to maximize rep performance. Getting the right insights starts with the right questions.

Best-in-Class Companies Ask the Right Questions

To achieve best-in-class status, typically we’ve seen that real-time metrics and answers to these questions help sales leaders create effective comp plans:

  • Are my reps meeting quotas as often as they should be?
  • Are my lower-performing reps overcompensated or my higher-performing reps under-compensated?
  • Am I quietly incentivizing less productive reps to stick around and my elite sales pros to skip town?

As Larson demonstrated, the use of hard data points to fully analyze your organization’s comp plans not only enables sales managers to get buy-in from company leaders, but also make the right adjustments to boost performance.

To this end, Larson provided a glimpse of the near future via Xactly’s Insights for Sales.  Xactly’s latest platform helps leaders compare internal performance by sales group or even down to every last sales rep’s progress. By driving sales performance insights down to the individual and down to the minute, best-in-class managers are empowered to make decisions based on hard data. But having data alone is not enough. It’s what you do with the data that matters.

Best-in-Class Companies Are Turning to Prescriptive and Predictive Insights

In the age of big data, and particularly with Xactly Insights, sales managers have two powerful new allies. First, they possess prescriptive analytics—data that helps them hone in on the most pressing adjustments to their incentive compensation. These analytics help you cut through all the noise and pinpoint where to focus your energy to achieve tangible improvements.

Next, companies are leveraging predictive analytics—data to grasp where your team currently stands against quota—and whether you should prepare to celebrate or sprint to avoid falling short. You can deep dive into your sales team composition—newbs versus veterans, for example—and see who’s excelling and who isn’t. With this info, you can uncover whether every single rep has precisely the incentive required to drive the best results.

Final Thoughts

By the end of the webinar, it was clear that the answer to “Am I normal?” is different for every sales manager, but the spirit of this inquiry is pivotal to maximizing the return from your sales comp plan. Ask the right questions, get the right data, apply it and “normal” can soon be best-in-class status.

You can watch the How Best-In-Class Companies Approach Incentive Comp webinar on-demand here.


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How Best-In-Class Companies Maximize Sales Comp