What is Sales Performance Management (SPM)?

Nov 12, 2020
3 min read
Sales Performance Management (SPM) is a data-informed approach to plan, manage, and analyze sales performance. Discover why it’s a critical tool for today’s enterprises to improve decision making and sales agility.

If there’s one thing we’ve all learned this year, it’s that adaptability is key. It’s not the largest companies that survive in times of uncertainty, but rather, it’s the ones who are best equipped to adapt with minimal disruption to their operations. As a result, the need for digital transformation is accelerating as more businesses look for ways to improve agility, optimize planning, and increase revenue.

The latest Dell Technologies’ Digital Transformation Index found that “80 percent of organizations globally have fast-tracked some digital transformation programs” in response to the changes this year. For many businesses, there was no choice but to rapidly ramp up technology adoption and streamline three-year plans into a few months. McKinsey & Co. data estimates that the U.S. e-commerce industry saw ten years’ worth of growth in just three months. 

However, Dell Technologies also reports that more than half of companies already in the midst of a digital transformation fear they’re not moving fast enough. So what can businesses do to help accelerate their adoption, or for those that haven’t yet started, where do they begin?

Sales Performance Management (SPM) is a data-informed approach to plan, manage, and analyze sales performance at scale, drive revenue, and sustain an enterprise’s leadership position in its industry. And it’s becoming a necessary tool for organizations to achieve agile operations in today’s fast-paced markets.

Understanding the Sales Ecosystem

Before we can dive into the nitty-gritty of Sales Performance Management, it’s important to understand that your planning and strategies affect more than just your sales team. In fact, you can consider your entire company as a sales ecosystem, composed of the people, processes, and technology responsible for revenue generation.

A healthy sales ecosystem is nimble, makes data-driven decisions, and is aligned on all strategies working towards larger business goals. To achieve this, you need a single source of truth, where all stakeholders can access the same data and use those insights to collaborate, forecast, model scenarios, and plan accurately. 

Enter Sales Performance Management.

What is Sales Performance Management, and How Does it Help?

Sales Performance Management has had a few different meanings in the past, often being used interchangeably with Incentive Compensation Management (ICM. However, it’s important to note that these two are not the same. ICM enables you to automate and improve incentive compensation management and processes. It is a core component of the wider concept of Sales Performance Management, which uses data to optimize planning, improve processes, and align stakeholders across all of your sales functions (e.g., capacity planning, territory mapping incentive design, forecasting, etc.).

Sales Performance Management (SPM) software comprises of tools and process functions that automate and unite back-office sales processes. It is implemented to improve sales execution and operational efficiency.


Today, Sales Performance Management is evolving to empower enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and address quickly changing market conditions and economic shifts. So how does it do this? It fuels operational sales management (OSM), which ultimately means you’re able to design and manage quotas, territories, and incentives efficiently, and you can use strategic insights to guide that planning across your entire tech stack.

SPM Graph

Sales Performance Management solutions create an agile sales ecosystem by providing a holistic view of your processes and performance. This gives leadership more transparency and a structured look into the health of your selling teams. And ultimately, it empowers you to do five key things: Plan, Manage, Incent, Analyze, and Forecast.

SPM Chart

Finding the right Sales Performance Management software is critical to achieving operational sales management. With the right solution, you’ll be able to make decisions and design plans confidently by ensuring your processes are: 

  • Automated and seamless across all of your systems
  • Collaborative and aligned with every stakeholder team
  • Data-informed with insights for strategic decision making
  • Continuous and allowing for course correction in real-time

Digital Transformation is the Future of Sales

Today’s markets are moving faster than ever, and the way we sell has changed forever. In the face of global disruption—like the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic uncertainty—it’s clear that planning once per year is no longer a viable strategy. Rather, continuous, always-on planning is necessary to adapt plans as business markets and industries change. 

Unfortunately, that’s not something you can do manually and without data and digital technology. And the longer you wait, the further behind you become. Sales Performance Management is more than just automating processes. It’s a digital transformation acceleration tool that empowers you to turn data into strategic insights, so you can make the best decisions for your organization and continuously drive growth.

To learn more about digital transformation and how Sales Performance Management empowers it, download our Enterprise Leader’s Guide to Success in the New Sales Era.

  • Incentive Compensation
  • Sales Performance Management
  • Sales Planning
Karrie Lucero
Karrie Lucero
Creative Strategist

Karrie Lucero is a Creative Strategist at Xactly Corp. She earned Journalism and Marketing degrees from New Mexico State University and has experience in the tech and SaaS industries, content strategy and creation, video production, and brand storytelling.