One Company’s Journey to Creating an Unstoppable Sales Force [Guest Blog 1 of 6]

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Eugene Lim
Eugene Lim
In Guest Blog Series, Sales Comp
With years of marketing and PR experience in companies ranging from Austin start-ups to global tech organizations, Eugene is fluent in social media and content development. As the “voice of OS”, she is committed to clearly communicating the years of industry expertise and front-line knowledge that resides in the OS tribe. In her spare time, she loves running around Lake Austin and drinking local coffee.

We’re excited to feature a blog series from Xactly implementation partner and Sales Performance Management (SPM) consulting experts OpenSymmetry about how Manheim, the largest subsidiary of Cox Automotive and an Inventory Solutions brand, used tools, technology, and a smart strategy to automate and optimize their SPM process. The result is nothing short of remarkable — a transformation within their organization that has led to greater visibility, faster decision-making, increased trust, decreased turnover, and sales and sales operations teams that are empowered and inspired like never before to achieve success.

When the results of Cox Automotive’s 2016 Global People Survey revealed incentive plan and quota management as areas needing improvement, the Cox Automotive team knew they had to make changes. Like many sales operations teams, Cox Automotive was operating in a very manual environment. Limited by their existing tools and technologies (Microsoft Excel and email, for example) and grappling with multiple data sources, the team struggled to coordinate across teams to efficiently and accurately manage the SPM process.

While some organizations might look for a quick fix, Cox Automotive instead embraced the survey feedback as an opportunity to not only improve their SPM process, but to embark on a journey to transform Cox Automotive into a world-class sales operations organization and help create an unstoppable sales force.

The journey’s visionary, Manheim’s Senior Director of Sales Operations, Justin Ritchie explains:

Cox Automotive is a people-focused organization. The sales operations team views incentive compensation as a means to inspire our sales people. We’re not just calculating their commissions; we’re making dreams come true. We’re helping sales people put their kids through college and take unforgettable family vacations. It’s a big responsibility.

Ritchie continues, “When the Global People Survey exposed incentive plan and quota management as areas in need of improvement, we set out to determine the best way to inspire the sales comp team to want to inspire our salespeople. We knew that optimizing our SPM process through automation and connectivity was vital in cultivating inspiration and would give the entire sales organization what they needed to be truly effective and successful.”

Ritchie has been with Cox Enterprises for 11 years in sales leadership roles and has a bird’s-eye view of the organizational needs and direction for change. While his immediate focus was to create a better experience for the Cox Automotive teams and employees directly in his group, a more long-term vision began to take shape. The team’s plan was to help lay the foundation for other Cox Automotive brands to ultimately leverage the blueprint for an optimized SPM process that Ritchie’s team would create so that they too could evolve into world-class sales ops organizations.

The Cox Automotive sales comp team strives to support and inspire the sales team through strategic leadership, impactful commission structures, and an agile performance management system. With a leadership team fully committed to supporting the needs of the sales organization, the outcome of the Global People Survey indicated that it was time to take a fresh look at the commission structures and performance management system to make enhancements that would satisfy two vital needs:

  1. Enhanced visibility. Rather than reactive analytics that offer direction for change a step too late, Cox Automotive wanted tools that could pull in the right data to help inform the right decisions at the right time, factoring in changing market landscapes and high visibility for both individual and group performance. This would mean finding performance management system options that had proactive analytics and modeling capabilities.
  2. Improved agility. Speed is important in a fast-paced environment because even a short period of misalignment between sales behavior and business objectives means lost time and revenue. Cox Automotive sought technology and processes to allow the company to swiftly and effectively move at the same pace as the changing industry landscape and corporate goals. 

With a clear vision for their desired future state, Cox Automotive began the research and requirements gathering phase with OpenSymmetry at their side. The road to becoming a world-class sales ops organization would require an unflinchingly honest and detailed look at existing processes as well as candid feedback from end-users across all teams – sales, sales comp, HR, and finance.

This blog series will feature details of Cox Automotive’s SPM process evolution, including:

  • Examining the vendor evaluation and decision-making criteria
  • Getting buy-in from end users and key stakeholders through cultivating mutual trust
  • Evaluating existing technologies and consolidating data feeds for a single source of truth
  • Optimizing territory plans
  • Improving quota management practices
  • Gaining insight from compensation data analytics

We’ll examine the bumps and obstacles encountered along the way. We’ll also identify common traps and potential points of failure in redesigning SPM processes. This is a live, “in the works”, case study as Cox Automotive continues the final phases of the implementation and weighs the pros and cons at each fork in the road. Check back on our blog for the second of six blog posts, scheduled to publish in two weeks, and hit subscribe up above to have updates delivered straight to your inbox!


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One Company’s Journey to Creating an Unstoppable Sales Force [Guest Blog 1 of 6]

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