Two Women Discussing Issues while Smiling

3 Ways Recognition can Reduce Turnover

Sales administrators are always maintaining a difficult balance. You must make your compensation plans desirable to keep your salespeople selling for you while still maintaining the company’s bottom line. So, what additional resources do you have at your disposal to motivate your sales reps? One of the strongest tools available to you is recognition, as salespeople tend to respond very positively to it. Here are 3 recognition-focused strategies to keep your employees motivated

  1. Highlighting Success

The average salesperson is not motivated by an intrinsic desire to simply succeed for your company. In the absence of recognition, they will not be properly motivated to sell for you. You must use recognition to draw out the true skills of your team, as when they feel recognized by the company, they feel like they are a greater part of it and will sell that much better for it. So, it is beneficial to highlight a rep’s success for the rest of the team. This both sets the standard for the rest of your team as well as give a great sense of accomplishment to the rep in question

2. Engage in Competition

It is also well known that salespeople love to compete. Selling as an occupation draws in competitive people who love to take life by the horns and see how well they can succeed. Make this success apparent for them by giving rewards and creating contests. Using a reps’ natural desire to compete against one another will drive them far and rewarding top sellers will push them to continue reaching the top. Those not in the lead will fight for it just as hard, and whether they reach it or not they are boosting your company’s sales. In this way, you can leverage a salesperson’s desire for recognition to support your business.

3. Recognition as its Own Reward

Its important to remember that recognition also must be its own reward sometimes. It is common management practice to start off constrictive criticism with praise before going into areas that need improvement, so employees don’t feel dejected. This can accidentally hamstring your efforts to recognize successes. Your team may not react to this praise as recognition, and they may feel you are only trying to soften the blow and not actually recognizing them. Call out success where you note it, don’t always save it to sweeten criticism.

Now, this might sound like just more work for the sales administrator. Not only do they have to be on top of their team but noticing every area of success and managing contests. With the aid of a Sales Performance Management (SPM) solution, tracking employee progress becomes easy. You can quickly review your employees’ successes and what they are doing well, allowing you to easily use that data to motivate.

 

To learn more about tactics to motivate your employees and how SPM can help with that, reach out to our experts at info@bluehorizonsgroup.com.


 

Rough Seas Against a Pier

Importance of Investing in Your Compensation Strategy During a Downturn

There has been a lot of speculation across headlines that a possible recession or an economic downturn is on the way. As 2022 continues, inflation and its effects across industries seem ever-present. For the sales departments, staff retention continues to be a cause for concern. As companies become less able to spend due to high prices, challenges in selling may lead to your sales force leaving for other industries or lines of work. One of the worst things that can happen to your business is to lose the sales team you have spent time and effort investing in. If your company is left high and dry, a recession will hit you that much harder. How do you retain your sales team during these hard times?

Here are 4 tips to strengthen your sales strategies and compensation plans, to keep your sales force happy and productive regardless of the economic climate.

  1. Quota Adjustments- what are you rewarding?

Traditionally, quotas are based on performance against sales targets. But during times of inflation, recession, and downturns this can become a pitfall. Your reps may have trouble closing deals, through no fault of their own, as your clients are skittish to purchase goods and balk at inflated prices. If no one is buying and sales reps can’t meet their quotas, they may feel pushed to look for other opportunities. To create engagement and a sense of accomplishment, consider rewarding milestones other than closed deals such as contacts or connections made, and initial meetings with potential clients. This incentivizes reps to still track down prospective clients and create relationships that could lead to potential sales in the future.

2. Timing of Payments- how often do you reward your team?

Traditionally, incentive compensation is paid out about twice a year. During recessions, your reps are being hit too, worrying about their bills as the cost of products rise. With compensation payouts so far apart, they may get anxious waiting until their next payment.  Consider breaking up this schedule during a downturn. This allows your team to know what they are being paid sooner, so it doesn’t feel far off.  If they feel payment is closer on the horizon, they will be incentivized to remain with your business and keep selling.

3. Invest in Marketing- back up your sales team

Sellers need every advantage they can get the more difficult selling becomes. Marketing efforts can make a big difference here, creating brand recognition and equity. Getting your company’s foot in the door can be everything, ensuring that the first conversation goes smoothly will allow your sellers to have an easier time in meetings and build better rapport with prospective clients. The leads that marketing efforts can develop for your reps is crucial to provide enough meat for your sales teams to work with. It is critical that you build out a strong marketing effort before and during times of crisis

4. Where are you selling? Focus on key markets

Scouting beforehand on the business and industry can help you go from a shotgun to a sniper approach. Certain industries are hit harder by a recession, do you spend valuable time selling there where they may not bite? Do you focus on smaller companies that may be floundering or pay attention to more established ones more likely to weather the storm? Maximize your effort and productivity by not wasting time on prospects unlikely to result in a sale.  In times of difficulty direct sales reps to the most likely of deals.

                Making all these changes may seem daunting, especially in times when  you are already struggling. But these changes are necessary, you don’t want your team to leave you high and dry as selling becomes more difficult. History has shown that being able to pivot in periods of economic instability leads to success and supporting your organization with an SPM platform that allows you to pivot as needed. You gain increased flexibility in quotas and compensation plan management and are able to change them quickly and effectively. You gain visibility and accuracy in payments and can easily change their timings. You can act quickly on leads, using marketing analytics to determine plan changes and desired territories to target. It allows for fluid and intuitive target identification and rep management, allowing you to shift territories across your business.  Protect your sales team and business with the power and flexibility of an SPM solution during the next downturn or recession.

                To learn more about SPM and how it can be utilized to bolster sales efforts, reach out to our experts.

Team Putting Hands Together

System Adoption: The Criticality of Engaging Your Team

So you’ve made the smart decision to implement a new Sales Performance Management (SPM) solution, and now the time has come to introduce your employees to the system. Any new technology introduced into your company may experience some growing pains as your team adapts to it, and SPM may experience this as well. So how do you get your team to engage with the new software? After all, it’s one thing to acquire a solution, it’s one thing to implement, but if you can’t get your employees to use the solution, it will not be as impactful.

Sales reps love to sell, we all know this. When they clock in every day, that is what they are gunning for, what they want to do. They may not be as excited about all the administrative tasks that come with the job, and it may be difficult for them to pull their focus away from the goal of selling. So, when SPM solutions are implemented, it is not unheard of for reps to not want to take the time to learn how to use the new technology. They may worry about how much more work they must do. Because they are hesitant to learn it, they will be unable to effectively use it. This stems from a lack of understanding of the product and the benefits that it can bring them.

At the end of the day, an SPM solution is designed to help reps sell more and track those sales efficiently. What uninterested reps may not realize is that the solution is there for them and is designed to help them succeed. Engage your team with training sessions, work with them on how to use the system, and reward initiative that you see with those who use the system to its fullest. Show your team the benefits, how much time, effort, and energy SPM can save them. When you incentivize your team to work for themselves, they will achieve much greater results. System adoption is an important facet of an implementation, but by showing the benefits of an SPM solution, it can be much better addressed.

To learn more about SPM and system adoption, contact us today.

Employee being Evaluated

Looking Back at 2022: How SPM can Aid Your Review Process

At this point in the year, scrutinous companies review their sales performance against their targets and determine if any changes need to be made to their team if performance is lacking.  The challenge then becomes how do you perform these reviews? How do you identify areas of concern? These identified areas need to be properly understood first. What is causing these issues? How do you implement changes based on what you find? This half-year review can become a lengthy process and creates an unnecessary burden on administrators. One of the most efficient ways to review is by using a Sales Performance Management (SPM) solution.

To best review your business, you need a system that can effectively track the progress, successes, and shortcomings of your sales team.  You need to see the performance of your team against their sales targets, with tangible, visible, and measurable metrics that provide clarity on the areas that need improvement. An ideal system also must track your growth against company goals, allowing you to compare and see if you are on target with your growth plans. Once you have identified what needs to change, your system must allow you to quickly pivot to your new plan of action. It is also beneficial to insight into individual sales performance, allowing you to identify and reward your star performers and provide support for those who need the extra help.

An SPM solution can do all this and more. Your business will have these insights and be able to act upon them. You will know your sales team like the back of your hand, and all your processes will run smoother. Additionally, these reviews will take less time, allowing you to focus on other administrative tasks. To learn more about how SPM can help your track and assess your sales team performance, reach out to our experts.

Woman Depressed Over Inflation

How to Combat Inflation in the Sales Environment

Inflation is on the rise in the US, and we are all seeing the price of goods and services increase. During inflation, your costs are going up, and naturally, you will have to offset increased costs with increased price of your own products and services. This may negatively influence your customer base. At this time, it would be critical to retain and better compensate your sales reps in an inflated economy.  So how do you protect your bottom line? Some ideas that can work are as follows:

  1. Basing comp plans on margins versus revenue

In times of inflation, your sales reps may be forced to offer discounts in order to get the sale across the finish line. If you pay your salespeople on the margins, they will work harder to keep that margin and will drive investment in your business. Giving them this greater transparency into what your margins are will create greater trust for your organization.

2. Bonus structure and other incentives

Salespeople love recognition, competition, and being paid for performance. They engage with contests and awards, and it gets them invested in your company. In this volatile market, it is critical to invest in your people. Consider non-cash incentives, rewards, and recognition when adjusting your comp plans.

3. Utilizing an agile sales comp management system

Having a system ready from the start that is flexible for changes will allow you to pivot to protect your business needs in changing times. Legacy homegrown systems are rigid and require a lot of time and effort to implement change. Instead of being held hostage by your system in times of crisis, invest in a modern, flexible solution that can change with your needs.

Smart organizations use all the help they can get in being prepared to navigate uncertain times. They find strategies to pivot and adapt that not only help them survive but also thrive in such times. A sales performance management (SPM) system can provide a holistic and cohesive solution to develop and manage these strategies for change.

Multiple Hands Together

Fostering an Engaged and Productive Sales Team

The modern business environment is rapidly changing, and the relationship between sellers and sales administrators is shifting with it. The growing uncertainty about the future following the pandemic as well as the shift to a remote work culture has drastically reduced seller engagement. How can we increase seller motivation and productivity in these unprecedented times?

Providing lucrative incentives can seem like the logical solution. But oftentimes throwing money at a problem is simply not enough. Incentives that are personal, trackable, and realistic will help your sellers sell more. Setting tangible daily, monthly, and yearly goals that your sellers perceive as achievable will fosters a sense of accomplishment thereby increasing engagement. This can be further enhanced by providing recognition for hitting incremental targets as they progress towards their goals. Designing and streamlining territory and quota plans specifically for each seller, can make them feel valued and give them a sense of ownership of the business.
Using only monetary incentives runs the risk of feeling transactional. However, by using other more holistic strategies to appeal to personal direction, a sense of accomplishment, ownership, and recognition, you can start to create an engaged and productive sales force.

For a sales leader, this creates an additional burden to design and execute a holistic strategy to nurture their sales teams. This burden can be alleviated with a Sales Performance Management (SPM) solution that is aligned with these strategic goals. In addition to housing enticing and flexible compensation plans, an SPM solution provides effective territory and quota management tools enabling you to align your sales talent to territories effectively. They provide the much-needed insight to track goals, targets, and other measurable achievements. This insight can help you reward and showcase your people appropriately.
Your sales team is your most valuable resource and by leveraging SPM solutions you can make them feel valued and encouraged to show up as their best, most productive self every day.

To learn more about SPM solutions and how they can help to engage your sales team, reach out to our experts.

Man in a Prayer Pose Contemplating

Leveraging SPM to enable Sales Force Retention Strategies

Recently one of the top concerns for sales leaders and executives has been the phenomenon of the great resignation. Between April-June 2021, a staggering 11.5 million American workers left their jobs. And according to Gallup polls, 48% of America’s working population are actively looking for new job opportunities. The sales department within organizations is no stranger to feeling this pinch proportional to these overall numbers and this is often the result of sales representatives losing trust in their organizations and feeling less valued. At this delicate time, how can you retain a loyal, motivated, and engaged sales force?  

The biggest piece of this puzzle is trust. Consistently inaccurate payouts, with little or no insight into the payout transaction details, will result in suspicion and bad blood between the employees and their leadership. Accuracy in compensation plan payout is critical as is providing easily accessible insights into their compensation details. In addition, creating a nurturing environment that offers support and guidance as and when needed can go a long way in creating a healthy employee culture aiding retention. 

This is where a good Sales Performance Management system can help create high value. A platform that automates compensation plan calculations with high accuracy develops trust where it matters. An intuitive user interface that provides consumable insights into payment transactions will eliminate the need for shadow accounting allowing more time for your sales representatives to do what they do best – sell. A well-designed and effective dashboard and reporting solution will allow your team to track their progress against their objectives fostering engagement and motivation. In turn, your sales leadership team will have insight into the progress of your team, so that they can identify where additional training and guidance may be needed, create, and execute actions to support their sales force, and track their improvement.  

SPM platforms have the potential to be excellent tools that enable organizations to reduce sales employee turnover. The key is to optimize the platform implementation to your team engagement business objectives. Your technology implementation partners should work with you to understand your business goals and implement a solution that helps you achieve them.  

To learn more about how you can leverage an SPM tool to create a loyal, engaged, and motivated sales force, contact us

Crumped Blue Paper over Sketch of Lightbulb

Is your SPM solution helping you drive a successful sales organization? 

Business leaders know that improving top-line revenue is hard.  After all, business is competitive and you will need all the help you can get. There are many software platforms out there that ‘claim’ to help you manage your organization’s sales performance. But oftentimes they just end up being yet another administrative or business process management tool that misses the mark on enabling you to achieve your strategic business objectives.  

One of the key benefits of an effective Sales Performance Management (SPM) solution is providing data-driven insights that enable Sales Executives and Business Decision Makers to make informed decisions for their sales and compensation strategies. An SPM solution should add value to the decision-making process for any organization that has implemented one.  If it does not, it may not be the lack of capabilities in your system but key factors missing from its implementation.   

A productive system will allow business decision-makers to determine if the sales of the company are aligning with company goals. This may include exporting data from the system and into a Business Performance Management or Financial Performance Management system to see how it relates to the health and viability of the organization. It should also provide the data these business decision-makers need to understand and make decisions to ensure: 

  1. Compensation plans are attracting and retain quality sales resources.  

  1. Compensation plans are incenting company growth in a manner that is a value add to all parties, including the shareholders. 

  1. Compensation plans are aligned with the business goals. 

  1. Sales efforts are focused on areas where there is the greatest need.  

  1. Sales executives are focusing their time where it’s needed most:  product marketing, sales support, etc. 

Additionally, a good SPM solution should allow for the auditability and traceability of data, so that existing trends can be tracked from a historical perspective and new trends can be identified.  Just because a compensation plan worked 20 years ago, does not mean that it will appeal to or work within the current market.  Just because a compensation plan worked a quarter ago, does not mean it will work today.  Society changes based on cultural impacts, including things like the recent Covid-19 pandemic.  Priorities change in response to economic shifts.  Staying on top of decision-making data is critical to making sound business decisions.   

A successful system should also provide sales managers the ability to review sales resources’ progress and identify which resources may need additional training or guidance. Keep in mind the success of the sale is not always about the numbers, but about retaining your customers and the ability to train and retain key sales resources.  Executive attention into your sales resource’s progress matters.   

If you are not utilizing your system to its full potential, then you are missing a large piece of the value of this system.  What do you need to be able to utilize your system to start aiding in these key decision areas and even beyond?  When we consider the decisions that a sales organization is driven by, then we must consider the viability of the system and the organization.  It is critical to define what the Executive team and business decision-makers need to fully utilize a system. This goes beyond understanding only the compensation portion, and into the decision-making process.   

Often times new systems are implemented to recreate the current state of your business processes. This approach causes the loss of the true value and potential of what a new and better system could provide.  An out-of-the-box system will not meet every business requirement. Therefore, it is critical your implementation partners understand your goals, objectives, and most importantly your business. Your implementation partners should collaborate with you to optimize the solution within your business framework and processes to derive the best value from your flexible solution aligning it with your short-term and long-term company goals.  

The goal of any SPM system implementation is to not only provide compensation of sales resources, transparency of plans, and payout information but also to enable strategic decision-making. As a business decision-maker or sales executive, are you getting all you need from your Incentive Compensation Management system?  If not, maybe it is time to assess the gaps and take the next steps to close them.

By Susan Major, Senior Consultant, BHG.

Pencil Sketch of People Over Integrated Box Chart

Who on the Sales Team Deserves the Biggest Piece of the Pie?

When you have a well oiled-sales team, it can be difficult to determine who deserves the most reward when a deal is completed. If everyone is performing their function to the letter, who should receive the most compensation? Should it be spread evenly across different roles? To make matters worse, different markets and businesses conduct sales differently and have unique jobs and goals. This all muddles the decision, do you reward the initial rep, the manager who oversaw the process, or the sales tech who made the deal possible?

Obviously, all these roles deserve some amount of compensation, but where you give the most compensation reveals where you see the most influence in your sales team. Is your team a group of equals, or does it contain standout workers who make the whole process possible? The goal here is obviously to reward effort, as no matter what the goal is always to hit sales targets. Balance is key, if you reward managers too heavily, sales reps will feel snubbed. Focusing entirely on the sales team may not properly motivate your managers. The more complex your business will only add to these levels of strain. Any given business may contain groups who make initial calls, service agents, writing agents, salesmen, and executives. Which is more valuable, the member who started the deal or the one who closed it? You want to give the biggest piece of the pie to your members with the most influence, but defining those workers is never easy.

The greatest solution to this conundrum is to maintain flexibility over your compensation plans. You must be able to identify any number of aspects that are affecting your team’s performance. Identifying standout actors, as well as reviewing your sales process, and finding the points of greatest impact. Moreover, this cannot exist in a state where your compensation plans are up in the air, you must have exact knowledge of who is getting what, and why. Performance tracking and compensation knowledge are all possible with the aid of an ICM solution, and these are only a small portion of the benefits one may bring. At the end of the day, there is no better way to manage your team than by knowing them inside and out and having a critical understanding of why your business works.

Team Meeting in Conference Room

ICM and Employee Loyalty: HR Benefits and Incentives

One of the most interesting aspects of working with customers and business partners in the domain of Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) and Sales Performance Management (SPM) is identifying who actually owns this function within an organization. Often it is either Sales Operations or Finance, occasionally it is the IT organization. Oddly enough, given the ties this domain has to the topics of compensation, job roles, employee satisfaction, etc., it is rarely the Human Resources group who owns ICM or SPM functions.

Perhaps it is because the most immediate benefits of an ICM solution wouldn’t seem to lend themselves to a Human Resources environment. However, upon closer inspection many reveal themselves. Using an SPM solution allows sales representatives to gain increased visibility into their sales plans and incentives. It becomes a very simple task to understand what compensation is owed to the rep, as well as track their performance. This increased visibility not only makes business run smoother but creates trust and improves job satisfaction. With this level of clarity, reps will know exactly what to expect and be more motivated to fulfill quotas. When a clear goal is in sight, it becomes easier to visualize and reach for. This increased loyalty will strengthen the bond between salespeople and their parent company, as neither side will have to worry about the logistics of compensation, it’s all taken care of. With this out of the way, sales can become the sole focus of employees.

SPM solutions also increase accuracy and reduce payout times. Those who use ICM are able to reduce their payout process time by up to 65 percent and increase the accuracy of payments by up to 75 percent. It may sound simple, but attending to your employees in this manner is greatly beneficial. Why not make them happy? Why not remove the obstacles in their path? This is efficiency, the removal of barriers, and the streamlining of your process. Employees who are getting paid appropriately, quickly, and understand how and why they have received this payment, will be effective. They will stay with you and aspire to improve. Business 101 is making your employees feel appreciated, and why not do so by barely lifting a finger?

These processes will ease the strain on any Human Resources department, by improving the lives of the employees. Less time spent on payouts is time effectively spent elsewhere. Loyal employees work with HR, a well-oiled machine rather than taking up their time. These solutions have also been shown to reduce both the time and costs of training, saving you more time and energy. SPM and ICM solutions do not just help you track your sales team, but they facilitate inclusion and efficiency wherever they are found. Strengthening company bonds and easing the strain on seemingly unconnected departments are just another of the many impacts of a properly delivered Incentive Compensation Management solution.