Now that you have implemented your sales incentive program, it is time to evaluate your software’s performance. For many manufacturers, they have come to accept some limitations or reporting inaccuracies in their incentive programs due to either paper-based systems or outdated software. But these issues with sales compensation programs can be pre-emptively avoided in the planning stage. For instance, according to the 2012 Sales Performance and Technology Survey conducted in a joint effort by WorldatWork and OpenSymmetry, 80 percent of respondents claimed that their issues were directly related to inadequate preparation in the project planning phase.
With the benefit of hindsight, it may be time for you to consider employing new sales compensation software into your program.
What your sales compensation management software needs
Establish measurable criteria upfront
First and foremost, it is important that retailers, sales reps and the manufacturer are all on the same page regarding the sales compensation criteria to be measured in the program. In short, program managers need to ensure that everyone involved is clear on the program’s offer and goals. This was a pain point for 20 percent of respondents of the 2012 Sales Performance and Technology Survey who stated that they wished they had a clearer set of measurable compensation criteria prior to implementing the incentive program. That level of visibility ensures sales representatives and retailers will understand the program, have reasonable expectations and be more motivated to promote a manufacturer’s products.
Plan the program to have several different options
Sales incentive programs should be managed so that they can be flexible and customizable to meet the needs of the retailer and the manufacturer in a sales channel. This is where spreadsheets and outdated tracking systems can cause information silos that result in several errors and issues – most notably, delays in sales compensation payments.
Plan user experience upfront
Software that allows for flexibility in the program is crucial because it needs to meet retailers’ local market needs to prove its value proposition. Align your goals with those of your channel partners, and consider their experience as a program participant at each phase of the claim entry and redemption process.
Align program practices to the goal
At the end of the program rollout phase, the software solution to track sales compensation should be able to provide instant measurables. The system should have 100 percent auditing to validate each claim prior to payment. The software solution should also be able to mirror the structure of your sales channel so that detailed reporting is available right down to the sales associate level. This program should ultimately increase sales, reduce costs, boost efficiency for both retailer and manufacturer and improve the overall sales channel partner relationship. Therefore, the measurable data should enable a manufacturer to continuously adjust the program to meet its business goals.
“Measurable data should enable a manufacturer to meet business goals.”
The 360 difference
Our sales compensation management software is able to provide these functions to your program. A prime example of the value of 360’s software solutions came recently when we were contacted by a major appliance brand.
The premium kitchen and laundry appliance giant reached out to 360 because it had concerns with visibility in its program. Specifically, the company was concerned about sales attribution, which resulted in fraudulent and invalid payouts. It was aware of exactly how much it paid out, but with a lack of through-channel visibility in its sales compensation solution, it had no way to tell where the money ended up. After due diligence from the senior sales manager in Canada, the company decided 360 would be a perfect fit to solve these problems.
The first order of business was to provide the client with internal and control risk audits, a function its previous solution vendor could not offer. We then set measurable criteria upfront with the launch of SPIFF programs in its southeast region of Canada in the second quarter of the year. With the business goals, user experience expectations and program flexibility we promised upfront all coming to fruition, they decided to launch the SPIFF programs nationwide by the end of the third quarter.
As a result of the growth opportunities generated from these SPIFF programs in Canada and the internal and control risks audits we conducted, the client allowed us to launch co-op and STA programs within 18 months. These programs were all launched on the 360 platform, which gave the company the benefits of flexibility in the types of sales compensation programs offered under a single online dashboard.
These are just some of the more important aspects of a high-performance sales compensation program management solution. But if there is any doubt over where your spend ends up in your sales compensation program, it is time to consider overhauling the system altogether.
We can work with you directly to navigate you through the planning and implementation phases of the program to ensure a smooth transition. Visit our product page for more information on the 360 solution.