December 9, 2011

New 2012 Sales Performance Management research report from Aberdeen

Peter Ostrow of AberdeenGroup does a nice job again this year with his annual SPM research. (click here to read the research -

The survey results show how the market is progressing and the report provides some good advice for guiding SPM initiatives.  I wanted to call out one thing in particular.  The survey shows that the goals, in priority order, that organizations have for their SPM implementations are:
  1. Higher Sales Margins
  2. Increase Management Visibility into sales force and channel performance
  3. Better sales hiring process
  4. Universal rep understanding of compensation or performance plans
  5. Balance territories to maximize revenue
  6. Reduce administrative time for sales compensation or territory management
  7. Reduce sales turnover

Higher Sales Margins was viewed by practitioners as the most important. It is interesting to see the quantification of a trend that we have been noticing for some time now.  That is, it’s not just the desire to grow top-line revenue, but profitable revenue that drives a lot of sales performance and sales compensation initiatives.

Higher margin business often comprises of selling back to customers, bundling products, cross-selling, multi-year and multi-product sales and/or some combination of the above.  Motivating your sales force to sell high-margin business is a challenge for most organizations. There is the obvious first problem of trying to collect and process the data in order to calculate margin by customer, product and channel so there is visibility into what is high-margin business.

Secondly, if we assume that sales people are motivated by their commission plan, then the idea would be to introduce new components to their plan that rewards this type of selling.   According to Gartner, nearly 90% of organizations are using spreadsheets and home-grown solutions to manage the sales commissions processing.  Without some SPM technology in place Commissions teams today are already hard-pressed to meet demanding deadlines, reduce errors and try and find efficiencies with today’s plans.  Adding requirements to drive Margin-based plans, versus Revenue-based plans is a daunting task.   This should not be undertaken without a review of existing processes, data flows and technology.

Lastly, there is a concern is that adding new compensation plan components that reward these higher margin activities can result in making the plans too complex and disenfranchising the sales team.  Note that the fourth priority on the list was Universal Rep Understanding of Compensation or Performance Plans.

There is a lot of data out there that suggests that sales plans are already far too complex and many sales people do not understand their current plans.  Adding more complexity can exacerbate this problem.  If you are moving to margin based plans, it must be done by considering wholesale changes to the commission plans, and specifically considering what components could come out when these new ones are introduced.

For clarification, the survey was partially underwritten by Varicent, Xactly and Callidus, but the survey itself, and the interpretation of the results were all done by AberdeenGroup.

1 comment:

sales training melbourne said...

This sales performance management research report is very useful for business owners and sales persons. They can know about the sales performance management by reading this report. Thanks for providing this report.