A lack of transparency was killing morale. No one had a clue how commissions were being calculated much less how to maximize take-home pay. Managers didn’t know how compensation would fall from one quarter to the next, and sales reps were in open rebellion. A third of the team left the company last year, and needless to say, sales dropped for a sixth consecutive quarter.
There was an obvious need to provide everyone visibility into commissions, and, being the industrious manager that you are, you did some research, asked around and procured a Sales Performance Management (SPM) solution for your organization.
Virtually overnight, compensation analysts gained the ability to automate commission calculation, ensuring that everyone was getting paid what they expected. Sales reps were able to view detailed dashboards of their commissions in real time, and managers could use continually-updated data to tweak compensation packages on the fly to influence sales behavior.
Problem solved. Everyone wins. Right?
Well, not so fast. Implementing an SPM solution is the easy part. Getting people to change their behavior, embrace new processes and use the new technology how it is intended is more difficult. It’s very easy for people to slide back into old habits of using spreadsheets to calculate commissions and emails to collaborate and communicate. If not rolled out properly, all that work and money spent on automating SPM will be wasted and the sales organization will fall back into chaos.
Here are five steps toward making SPM stick in your organization:
Even before you begin implementation, it’s important to communicate with stakeholders about what you are doing. Remind them of the pain points they deal with every day and how the new SPM solution will resolve them. Focus on how you will be making their lives easier. Once you’re ready to migrate to the new platform, user buy-in will be much easier.
Everyone needs to know how to use the new SPM solution and what their role is in the new system—whether it’s the person pushing buttons on commission calculation, a sales manager, the CFO or the sales team. Conduct training sessions. Again, focus on how the software will be easing their day to day and how it provides value to the business through automation and streamlined business processes.
It’s important that administrators know the system inside and out and can troubleshoot any issues quickly. You don’t want to have to rely on an IT integrator forever, so taking ownership is key. Be involved from the very beginning and follow through every step of the implementation process from planning to deployment to eventually roll out. So when it’s time to hand the keys over, you’ll know what you are doing.
Nothing sticks if the C-Suite isn’t on board. Executive buy-in can apply pressure from the top—ensuring users take new processes and their role in it seriously. Show executives how they can use the insights derived from SPM data and dashboards to set policies to amend compensation programs and plan product rollouts, special deals, and discounts.
Any implementation partner is going to hand off important documentation about how the solution is designed and engineered. However, make sure they also help you create how-to documentation that helps users learn the new system. This will be useful when first implemented as well as when new employees are on-boarded. Stickiness, however, depends on how easy it is for users to come back and reference procedures. Instead of forcing someone to search through a 10-page document to find out how to do one task, create interactive cheat sheets for the most common features. You’ll find that the more these quick hitters are used, users will be more likely to use the software more deeply.
Implementing an SPM solution is a great first step in automating and streamlining sales compensation. But it needs to stick. It’s important that you educate users on what you are doing, train them properly, take ownership of the project, get executive buy-in and create documentation for easy reference. Otherwise, you’ll find that you just spent a large sum of money and months of your life for naught as the sales organization descends back into spreadsheet chaos.
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By – A5