The Sales Intelligence to Use at Dreamforce

8 min read

It’s November, which means only one thing for most visitors to this page: Dreamforce is just a week away! At this point, travel and accommodations have (hopefully) been booked, but there’s still much to deliberate as you aim to maximize your time in San Francisco. Between breakouts, certifications, demos, customer sessions—and let’s not forget the parties!—there’s a lot to choose from. However you decide to spend your time at DF17, let’s not lose sight of the reason we’re all attending in the first place: optimizing the performance of our salespeople in order to reach our customers. One of the best ways to achieve is to have the right sales intelligence to make improvements. To that end, here are some of the critical areas your sales data tools should cover. 

Data Should Help Reduce Spend

As noted in a previous blog, the first step in this process is identifying how your organization will measure success (top/bottom line growth, customer retention, market share, new logos, employee retention, etc.) and, once you’ve prioritized, there are myriad platforms to help your business realize a more efficient operational state (CRM, ICM, CPQ, ERP, BI, etc.). But these tools fall short of improving the ways in which an organization spends on variable incentives for reps, which amounts to 9% of revenues on average. That’s just for commissions! Look for tools that are able to reduce costs as well as provide invaluable information. 

Turn to the Next Generation of Sales Data

Most standalone analytics and BI tools do a great job at one or two things (e.g. predictive and prescriptive analytics, sophisticated OOTB reports, niche industry benchmarks, stacked rankings, historical analysis). There hasn’t been an offering that tackles all of these needs, let alone in a way that’s digestible and approachable to the average end user. Yet, that’s precisely what’s needed in the market and what we’re doing with Xactly Insights™ for Sales. We constantly hear that we’re in an age of information with more data at our fingertips than ever before. So why isn’t this translating to sales teams operating at historic levels of efficiency and performance?

Discover What to Do with All that Data

Well, the reality is that the challenge for most professionals isn’t necessarily accessing information, but rather figuring out what to do with the data in front of them. This paradox of choice can be such that the information, by itself, isn’t actually helpful. Leaders need tools that will help them sift through the noise to identify anomalies, outliers, or areas of concern across the business that they may not have otherwise flagged. Moreover, once these areas have been highlighted, they likely need help determining the best course of action to remedy a situation or, preferably, prevent a bad situation from happening in the first place. When you find a way to combine these disparate sources of information into a single, digestible platform, you’ve not only saved yourself and team a ton of time otherwise spent building custom, aggregated reports—you’ve changed the conversation. Rather than coming to cross-functional meetings with distinct reports, teams can now rally around a common core of actionable information. 

Use External Benchmarks to Stay Competitive

Despite it being common knowledge that aligning corporate objectives with performance-based incentives changes sales behavior, most organizations often do not ensure this spend is being distributed efficiently and effectively. One of the best ways to stay ahead of the competition is to look outside of your organization. Instead, businesses, unfortunately, tend to only look inward when it comes to the planning, designing, and monitoring of sales incentives. It usually looks something like this: a cross-functional team gets together towards the end of the year to run some historical analyses, which they then match against next year’s revenue targets—voila, there’s your comp plan! This is certainly important, but this process is also full of holes. How can you really know if you’re competitive in a vacuum? Even with a few small, performance-based adjustments, most comp plans won’t undergo any significant change or review.

Identify the Data that Matters Most

With endless information streaming in, we’re forced to confront, paradoxically, a larger number of unknowns in an increasingly competitive environment. These factors conspire to make it even more challenging to determine whether your business’ compensation is truly competitive. Is your OTE or OTI enough to compete for talent and drive performance? If so, how do you know you aren’t paying too much for results? Are your payouts appropriate for your market? Are your quotas motivating? What should pay mixes be? Are we normal? At Xactly, we know these questions may be keeping you up at night, which is what inspired us to extend our unique set of pay and performance data to our customers in the first place with Xactly Insights™ . If you’re like most organizations, the answer to the above questions is likely, “I’m not sure.” Yet, the reality is if any one of these factors is off, it can create big problems for retention, which hampers revenue generation. Simply put, it’s no longer enough to ensure success in a silo. Companies that only benchmark internally cannot compete as effectively for customers and talent.

Takeaways for Dreamforce

  1. As you finalize your Dreamforce preparations, remember that everything starts with sales and that the most impactful way you can communicate with your reps is through their comp plan. If they aren’t well designed, are misaligned with company strategy, or are non-competitive, you’re planning to fail.
  2. Too much money is spent on sales incentives and too much is at stake to stick with the status quo for simplicity’s sake. Using benchmarks to validate your strategy or make small tweaks to credits, payouts, pay mixes, etc. can have an outsized impact on results.
  3. Leverage predictive analytics to identify anomalies across your sales organization and prescriptive analytics to follow a suggested course of action.

Meet us at Dreamforce and see Xactly Insight for Sales in action!