The Sales Ecosystem: How to Identify, Understand, and Maintain it

Blog
Oct 05, 2020
4 min read
Having a healthy sales ecosystem requires internal alignment, communication, and cooperation between departments in order to operate seamlessly. Learn what that looks like within an organization by understanding the role Incentive Compensation and Sales Performance Management play within that environment.

What is a Sales Ecosystem?

A sales ecosystem is composed of the people, processes, and systems responsible for revenue generation. These areas of business work cooperatively together to support new products, satisfy customer needs, and aid other departments when it comes to driving performance and growth. 

Each of these elements is necessary for a sales organization’s success, which can only fall into rhythm, a.k.a maintain productivity and reach the highest sales performance levels, when everyone involved is on the same page.

The first step in creating a positive relationship between your internal teams would be to automate and streamline your Incentive Compensation processes. In fact, recent Forrester research states that only 19% of participants reported being able to leverage their homegrown solutions for tasks like compensation administration, compared to 47% who are investing in externally provided solutions. Manual processes don’t cut it any longer. When you invest in technology that can help you realize your aspirations of harnessing a data-driven approach to sales performance, it can help match sales behaviors with company objectives which then leads to an improvement in operational efficiencies.

What Role Does Incentive Compensation Play in the Sales Ecosystem?

Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) acts as a fuel to create and sustain alignment, collaboration, and communication among teams. ICM helps companies increase data accuracy, reduce the time spent on plan administration, obtain higher quota attainment, and improve seller motivation and engagement. 

Fully addressing today’s complexities necessitates the development of new, thoughtful compensation models that provide clear motivation for how a salesforce can continue to sell effectively. Salespeople shouldn’t be told what to do; they should feel persuaded toward behaviors that will support a company’s go-to-market strategy. Adjusting the mix of commissions, quotas, salaries, and bonuses for the salesforce can be a driver of growth

,
McKinsey & Company

Sales is the foundation of your organization’s ecosystem, so you need to make sure your teams and processes are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Gains in sales execution and operational efficiency can make the difference in your ability to maintain growth in an increasingly competitive environment. A strong incentive compensation plan is key, but there's more to a strong sales organization than just incentive pay. Strong and successful sales organizations need an integrated, data-driven sales plan. 

One way to fully unlock your sales organization's potential is to take a step back and understand how ICM fits into the bigger picture of reaching and maintaining maximum sales performance.

Harmony Doesn’t Just Stop at ICM

From automated processes to end-to-end visibility, everything internal within a business must work cohesively and for the greater good of the organization. And when it comes to sales, achieving and sustaining high levels of productivity must be enabled by strategic investments in technology that will promote data-driven and proactive decision-making processes. This solution is otherwise known as Sales Performance Management (SPM). 

The transition from Incentive Compensation Management to Sales Performance Management (SPM) is an acknowledgment that sales success has evolved beyond the individual rep. While Incentive Compensation Management is still a central component when it comes to sales excellence, the broader SPM concept has expanded to include other key aspects that directly impact how a sales team, or organization at large, might perform. This includes areas of business such as continuous plan analysis, sales enablement, territory management, and quota and capacity planning. 

The fact that the general context of COVID economic crisis, things like that have actually brought the imperative that we always knew, but more to the forefront, which is the power of automation, the power of performance management, the power of data, the power of insights, the power of prediction, the power of systemization, so on, so forth. So tying all that together, and the role that Incentive Comp can actually play as again being reinforced and again, gives us an amazing amount of opportunity to bring the power of technology and the power of just sheer strength and strategy together

Nandini Ramaswamy, Senior VP, Global Incentive Compensation Strategy & Operations
Salesforce

A healthy sales ecosystem requires a connected and automated approach to managing comp, quotas, and territories, enabled by predictive analytics and robust reporting. This enables sales ops and sales leadership to continuously track performance and proactively adjust plans to ensure their enterprises continue on their growth trajectory. 

Overall, this transition from comp to performance is where collaboration happens, and it can only occur when unified data systems encourage cross-team communication and transparency into performance. What had originally started as Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) has now evolved into a full suite of Sales Performance Management solutions that allows sales leaders to gain a more holistic understanding of how to use data insights to plan, incentivize, and drive behaviors to improve revenue generation and accelerate growth. 

When those things align, data and insights are then brought to the forefront of your go-to-market strategy, which then creates a ripple effect that drives accountability, scalability, and measurability of key corporate objectives, metrics, and KPIs. 

Sales Performance is the Lifeblood of Your Organization

Adopting new technology, like SPM, is essential to keep your ecosystem functioning like a well-oiled machine because it empowers and assists companies in strategic and data-informed decision making. This then informs and feeds into the health of your full sales plan.

According to Forrester, Sales Performance Management platforms can boost sales productivity by 5-10%. That’s why technologies, like SPM solutions, are imperative moving forward in the business world. Having an automated and integrated approach to all areas of business, like strategic sales planning, operational sales management, and incentive compensation management provides a single source of truth that unifies teams supporting your sales organization.

Creating a holistic view of your organization’s sales processes enables leadership to have a transparent and structured view into the health of your selling teams. In order to achieve that, leading enterprises are seeking solutions to enable them to pivot on a dime and adapt plans to new market conditions as they arise. 

Learn more about what that could look like for your organization in our recent infographic, Entering a New Sales Era: What’s Next?

  • Incentive Compensation
  • Sales Performance Management
Author
Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart
,
VP of EMEA

Chris leads the Xactly EMEA and APAC organisation for Xactly, the leading SaaS Sales Performance Management company. Prior to Xactly, he led sales organisations in Sitecore, Adobe, Marketo and SAP.