In a breakout session at Dreamforce last month, Zuora’s CFO Tyler Sloat said they were up and running with Xactly Express within a few days, despite the fact that they implemented in the middle of the year. Why—and how—did they do that? Zuora’s sales force was expected to grow quickly, and they required a more flexible compensation solution to adapt to their changing needs as soon as possible. (See Xactly’s other post that details how Zuora and others use sales comp automation to lead the social enterprise movement.) Zuora’s situation is fairly common, and it also underscores a fairly common misconception about when it’s best to automate sales compensation. Though many companies want to implement sales comp automation at the beginning of the calendar year, that may be the worst time to do it because they are heads-down with forecast activities, pay plans, and SPIF programs.
This raises the question, when is best to begin with sales comp automation?The short answer is, the sooner the better. (Okay, so this is somewhat of a convenient answer for Xactly, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be the answer that also works best for you.) By adapting early, you can automate your current plans right away. Since you have set aside dedicated time to focus on the roll-out, new plans can be developed as the company becomes trained and accustomed to the new flexibility it provides. Early adapters also have the opportunity to fix existing data problems, which are considered one of the largest risk factors to a successful implementation. However, if you wait to implement automation, you might build a plan that is limited by your current functionality, instead of having a plan that truly fits your strategic needs. Inflexible tools like spreadsheets simply can’t give you the strategic advantage you need to harness the full capacity of your workforce. Truly, a company can implement sales comp automation at any time during the year. The key is simply to make sure you can focus on the roll-out and product adoption. Once you start, you will begin building your data set so that any new plan design can be easily tested in the Xactly modeling and sandbox modules. Analysts can run what-if scenarios to test impact of plans without the risk of real-world implementation. So what was the secret for Zuora, who proved an efficient implementation can provide benefits in just days? In my next post, I’ll share some tips for a successful CRM implementation. In the meantime, I’m curious: At what point in the sales cycle did your company implement sales comp automation?