Old Sepia Shot of Multiple Cyclists in an off-road Marathon

Innovation and Competition: SPM is Primed for Consumer Benefit

There has never been a better time to consider a Sales Performance Management (SPM) solution for your business. In recent years, the domain has experienced large amounts of growth, due to innovations and options available to consumers. Here are 3 reasons why now is the time to seriously consider an SPM solution:

  1. New Players, More Options

There has been an increase in the number of SPM vendors in recent years who are making good deals and breaking out into the space. The market is made up of two types of players. There are those who best cater to enterprise-level businesses and those who are primed to aid mid-market and SMB-level teams. Each of these vendors has different strengths that allow them to work best with different organizations, meaning there is a solution out there for any type of business.

2. Competition Breeding Innovation

The SPM space has seen several advancements in technology and offerings in recent years. Its common sales knowledge that competition is good for the consumer, and the SPM domain is no different. As vendors compete the leaders who innovate begin to pull ahead with breakthroughs in AI technology and usability, insights and control over territory and quota management, and others. Meaning that as vendors compete, the offerings for you get better and better.

3. It’s Still Growing

This growth and burst of innovation are not a one-off, but the emergence of a trend pointing towards a growing industry. Experts believe the global SPM market will reach $5.68 billion by the end of 2022 due to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.3%. The SPM market is expected to reach $10.47 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 16.5%. Meaning that this domain will continue to innovate, compete, and grow, increasing the potential rewards for your business if you make use of a system.

 

With all these offerings before you, it can seem daunting to cut through the chaos and not be deafened by all the competing offers. Which vendors are right for you? What offerings make sense for your objectives? In times of growth like these, it can be helpful to leverage the support of a consulting organization in the domain that can answer all these questions for you. Our industry experts with deep domain expertise can guide you in making the right choice for your needs.

To learn more about the SPM domain, its growth, and which solutions could be right for you, reach out to us.

 

Infographic Showing SPM Growth
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.

Glass Globe showing Inverted Image of a Tree in the Outdoors

3 Goals for Your Dashboards and Reports

While your Sales Performance Management (SPM) system is calculating and monitoring the performance of your employees, it provides you with Dashboards and Reports to show that performance. With them, you can track employee progress, and see areas that need improvement as well as areas of success. But how can you build out these dashboards and reports to be the most effective for your organization’s needs? There are three objectives to shoot for when designing your dashboards and reports, each will help bring clarity to your business and efficacy to your sales team.

  1. Providing Actionable and Relevant Insights

Don’t build your dashboards and reports to simply track everything. Instead, home in on the areas of your business that concern or excite you. If you are looking at everything that is happening all at once, the information you are looking for may get lost in the white noise. Instead, focus on what is relevant to your business. Identify your goals for your sales team, and track that which shows growth and areas that need improvement. Ensure that the insights provided are actionable, that something can be done about them when found

Before you design your dashboards and reports, you must first ask yourself what it is you are hoping to see. Ask the questions that you need answers for. If your dashboards and reports are giving you data that is irrelevant to the future of your company, or data that cannot be effectively acted upon, then you need to re-design them.

2. Are Intuitive and Visually Appealing

Your team is going to use these dashboards and reports every day, so it is integral that you design with user experience in mind. It is best to adhere to the “5-second rule,” which is, that it should take 5 seconds to understand the visual you are looking at. Ensure that they are intuitive and easy to read so that your insights can be more easily gleaned from them.

You can design your dashboards and reports to tell a story and also reflect company branding. These dashboards and reports are the stories of your employees’ progress towards goals and they should reflect that

3. Provide Transparency for Your Team

Just as you should receive accurate and actionable insights into your employee progress, so should they. By having access to their own progress, they will be better able to improve. They should also provide accurate information on sales incentives and payments for your team. It is important that your salespeople know what they are working towards.

By doing this, you foster greater trust in your organization. Your team will know what they need to do to grow, and they are clear on incentives and offers for them. Clarity is the best policy with sales teams, and with this clarity they will worry less about their current standing or the status of their comp plans, and do more of what they do best, sell.

SPM solutions already bring efficiency, acuity, and transparency to your sales organization, but with dashboards and reports you can bring these aspects to greater heights. Ensuring that your dashboards and reports provide you with pertinent information, are easy to read and understand, and provide greater transparency into your organization, will lead to a more effective sales team.

To learn more about how to design your dashboards and reports to bring out the best in your SPM system, reach out to us.

Team Member Working on Kanban Board

4 Major Considerations for Driving SPM Requirements

The requirements development stage of implementation is the stage where a business defines what they need their new Sales Performance Management (SPM) system to do. Requirements not only define what the new system will be but also your business will be supported by the technology in the future moving forward. It is essentially creating a blueprint for your implementation team to follow as they build, configure, or install your new system.  There are 4 key considerations that should be kept in mind for this critical stage.

  1. Clearly defined end goals

There are two main directions to take your business when discussing requirements which are ‘lift and shift’ or ‘future state implementation’. Both directions help structure the direction of your requirements.

 ‘Lift and shift’ is simply put, doing your current system but better. Regardless of how your system is currently running, if there are processes you want to keep, your system can be upgraded or enhanced while adhering to current business processes.

If you are looking for an entirely new system based on the future state of the company, there is another suite of questions that must be asked. What changes are coming down the company pipeline? What new frameworks will be required? These goals must be defined in no uncertain terms, so your implementation can provide you a system that meets your end business goals.

2. A robust and field-tested requirements development process.

It is extremely important to have a comprehensive and proven process for developing requirements. This must include upfront planning and analysis. There should be standardized processes for documenting, reviewing, refining, and verification of the requirements. This standardized approach ensures the requirements team is on track for the quality and time required at this stage.

3. Availability of all critical information and data.

Your implementation needs to comprehensively understand your current compensation business area. What processes are manual? Which are off the books? Which sets of users interact with the system? How do they use it? Make this information readily available to them to help you define the future system. Ensure you have accurate, up-to-date, and complete compensation plan data the new system can support your specific business needs.

4. Stakeholder engagement through the entire process.

The people who are using the system have an in-depth understanding of what is needed from the new system. They understand what currently works best, what needs improvement, and the gaps that exist. It is critical to have subject matter experts and your main system stakeholders engaged at every step of the requirements defining process. As a result, the new system would be more effective in meeting your key business objectives. Additionally, it will be more easily adopted by your sales and incentive compensation management team.

                To learn more about implementations and how to prepare for the requirements stage, reach out and speak to our industry 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.

Team Meeting utilizing Graphs on a Laptop

Implementation: How to Prepare

After making the important step of deciding to implement an Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) system, what comes next? How best can you prepare your business, and what do you need to know to transition smoothly? There are three key areas that are focused on during an implementation, each with its own objectives.

Data

Your compensation data is the first step in preparing an ICM system. All the transactional data you have across spreadsheets, files, and the minds of your employees must be transferred to the new system. This first step often sees many hiccups, as data is altered off the books or in processes, and administrators may miss key data points. To ensure your data is correct before implementation, ensure that you speak to your employees and have a comprehensive understanding of how your data works.

Requirements

What will your system require? How will it help you achieve your business objectives? What expectations do your employees have of the system? Answer these questions to determine what your system will really need to accomplish. Know your teams activities and processes, and defining your requirements becomes simple. Also, how will your business change 5 years from now? Requirements should also consider the future state of your company. While written plans encompass the how to pay, it often misses the process that the team goes through.  Don’t just rely on written documentation, talk to your team and understand what they really do. 

Testing

The final stage is where it all comes together. Here you will test your system to see if it is returning on the requirements you set in the previous step. User experience testing is the best form of this, as the employees who will use the system most often will spend time with it, getting to know how it works and how it will help them. It is best to test in a realistic environment.. Instead of using parallel testing as UAT, use a controlled set of data and expectations to see how your employees engage with the system, and how it can increase their productivity. Parallel testing serves it purpose, but can make actual UAT testing to cumbersome to manage. 

An ICM implementation may seem daunting, but with the help of an expert consulting organization like the Blue Horizons Group, it becomes much more manageable. With our years of ICM experience, we can easily guide you through these three steps and help you see tangible results with your team.

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.

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.