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Get Executive Buy-In: Incentive Compensation Management

6 tips for selling sales compensation automation to your company execs + getting ROI on the solution you choose.

6 min read

Last week, I shared six guidelines for successfully pitching new technology solutions to management. Today, I’ll share six tips for selling sales compensation automation to your company execs. HealthTech Holdings involved every company leader in the process to make sure their solution provided what everyone needed. Because of their comprehensive approach, management put the fuel in their fire to purchase. They knew how much seeing real-time sales performance by each every rep and product would help them make better business decisions. For Zuora, the selling point was data accuracy. As Tyler Sloat said, “to extent you must rely on human error, you lose money.” 1. Get agreement on what management wants to accomplish Technology is our means to accomplish our aims. Always begin with the aim, before pitching the means. Find out what your CEO wants to achieve in 2012. Is it a 20% increase in sales performance without a significant increase in cost? This is possible.

For example, Xactly’s customers shorten their sales cycles by an average of 36%, according to Aberdeen research.

2. Be clear about the risk Not every technology delivers ROI (though your sales compensation solution absolutely should. See #4). Technology is only one part of a three-legged stool. People and process are the other two. The right sales compensation solution doesn’t have to significantly change your internal processes. They should actually increase your CRM adoption rates. Just make sure it integrates with your other CRM systems—like Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and SAP.

Ask for at least three customer referrals. Make sure the referral uses the same software version you would be. If the provider can’t provide them, move on.

3. Understand and define the pain What are common pains that sales compensation can turn into gains? Hours, even days, of time. It’ll also virtually eliminate payment errors. That’s more time saved in disputes and questions between sales and finance.

For instance, one CFO used to spend 80+ man hours on commissions with a spreadsheet. Now, he takes 10 minutes.
Want accuracy? The provider of your sales compensation software should be able to tell you about multiple customers who have 99.99% calculations accuracy. (No joke. Check out TriNet’s story.) A large media company that uses Xactly hasn’t overpaid or underpaid anyone in the last seven consecutive quarters. KPI Analytics used to pay salespeople twice, but not anymore.

Imagine how much happier your reps will be when they’re paid accurately and on time. They’ll spend more time selling and less time haggling finance and operations. Clean automation cleans out the grumble. Transparency = trust. 4. Demonstrate the ROI of a new solution I shared a simple ROI formula in the first part of this series. I also recommended allowing for hidden costs. Say no if the solution doesn’t pay for itself in a year. And again, make sure you talk to several happy customers.

With sales compensation, there are no hidden costs. ROI tends to be rapid. For many Xactly Express customers, like Clairmail, it pays for itself in a matter of months.

5. Align the new technology with your overall business strategy The two keys to success are alignment and business strategy integration. To successfully pitch any technology to executives, be prepared to address these two key issues. Everyone is trying to more with less these days. With the right incentive compensation tool, you can actually increase user adoption of CRM tools you’ve already purchased. When your sales reps can see their progression toward quota every day, they’ll want to log into Salesforce. 6. Create a roadmap for change management What if you knew what you’d gain with a possible decision? When you use sales compensation tools to run “what if” scenarios, you’ll see what certain decisions might mean for your results. You’ll also find insights in your data that you haven’t discovered before. What has Google taught the world? Data is everything. If your comp analysts are really just comp administrators, you don’t really know what’s working and what’s not. Okay, so now I want to hear from you. What matters to your executive team? Looking back at past tools you’ve successfully pitched, what worked? What could you have done differently?