The Software Pendulum: SPMs Should Swing Towards Connectivity

Oct 30, 2017
4 min read
Access to data improves strategic planning. Discover how sales performance management (SPM) solutions increase connectivity for data-driven decision making.

There is a pendulum that swings in software, including CRMs and sales performance management (SPM) solutions. On one side is the suite play—you buy every application from the same vendor, believing in the promise of a single neck to throttle when things do not work as planned. The risk, of course, is that you are stuck with high switching costs that keep you from changing providers when a better solution arises.

Even worse, you may get offered a “suite deal” from a vendor whose various applications are second-tier and poorly connected, if integrated at all. The other side of the pendulum’s swing is when buyers can license best-of-breed solutions for each use case, easily integrate data flows, and gain other critical connectivity as needed.

Continuing to Improve Functionality

This is why we continue to improve upon the functionality of Xactly Connect™. We know our users prefer Xactly's SPM software, but they need to plug into other systems (and they don’t want to have to use our services team to do it). To make that work, however, requires a different mindset in software design AND software partnering. To be successful, you need:

  • a master data model that is powerful and flexible but can also handle the needs of vastly different customer types across industries
  • the right APIs to ensure communication is seamless and secure
  • a user interface that makes it easy for various users to switch between applications without having to re-orient themselves to a new piece of software
  • a partner ecosystem, where engineers, professional services teams, and UI experts can share notes to build a better solution for the market

Seeing Results with Xactly Incent™

I use Xactly Incent to highlight this software design need when I deliver a guest lecture at the university level. Xactly Incent has helped thousands of sales reps get paid the right amount, on time, every time, for years.

The power of our system has been proven over and over again by handling sales compensation plans for everything from luxury retailers to automotive dealers, to financial services providers, medical device companies, and every flavor of technology firm in between.

However, none of this would be possible if we had not built both an enterprise-strength calculation engine and an interface that allows for many different functions to access the value of the software.

SPM for Sales Teams

Single sign-on access to Xactly Incent is available from various CRM tools, making it easy for reps to log in and check their incentive statement, see what they need to do to earn the next payout, and ensure that they have received credit for all of their deals.

The ability to run a personal earnings forecast model that checks against a deal, or even a bundle of deals (answering questions such as “how much will I make if I close all of my deals that I have above 80%”) keeps reps coming back to the CRM to update their opportunity information.

Reps can also download a native application for iOS or Android that lets them keep an eye on their commissions from their favorite device. 

SPM for Marketing

The ability to easily support contests and product launches with SPIFs, makes the marketing team’s world much more efficient. Incent means that when Marketing comes up with another way to get the sales team’s attention at the last minute, it can be done without too much difficulty. They can also see reports showing the effectiveness of the contest vs comparison periods and later run a complete incentive ROI analysis.

SPM for Finance

The Finance team benefits through more accurate data, which they can leverage in ensuring compliance with ASC 606 and IFRS 15.

The new guidelines for the capitalization and amortization of expenses require that master data models wring out every last detail of commission expenses at the customer, industry, and product line level, depending on the approach of the user (and the concurrence of the auditors).

Incent can generate the needed data for any model, manage any necessary prior period processing, and ensure that auditors are kept informed and happy (as happy as auditors get that is).

SPM for Compensation Administrators

These unsung back-office heroes of well-performing sales performance management systems want something that works, is well supported, and that they can run themselves. Our users (and often prospective users) are the best sources of ideas for changes to the user interface, overall product improvements, and expanded software functionality for Incent.

Combining the Power of Incent and Salesforce

This is the power of Incent. Earlier I mentioned the need for a strong partner ecosystem. With Salesforce’s Dreamforce fast approaching, I have found myself focused on how Incent and Salesforce work together. I recently joined the Salesforce CPQ team in San Francisco for a joint webinar to talk about how our systems work together, taking the value of Incent and Salesforce to a more specific level of detail:

  • Sales: The Xactly Incent Estimator works within Salesforce CRM, and it also works with Salesforce CPQ. A sales rep can update the quote and then quickly see how that changes their potential commissions–all with just one button.
  • Finance: In the same way a sales rep can estimate their potential commissions, Finance can estimate the total potential commission expense exposure based on current pipeline opportunities. Different models can be compared so that accruals are more accurate, and models can be updated as needed. These forecasting models look at actual closed business plus potential deal flow to model out the commissions that would be paid across the enterprise, allowing for a detailed line-item expense forecast model to accompany the revenue forecast.
  • Analytics and Technology
  • Sales Performance Management
Erik Charles
Erik W. Charles
VP, Solutions Evangelist

Erik W. Charles is an accomplished professional with more than two decades of experience in Marketing, Consulting, and Product Evangelization.