You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Sales Operations’ tag.
Businesses aim to make their sales function as productive as possible, but they don’t always support that goal with investment in technology. I recently wrote about sales needing a swift technology kick. Sales application vendor Xactly provides a boot with the release of Xactly Incent 8 and will make parts of the application suite available from the Apple App Store for the iPad in the coming weeks.
According to our benchmark research on sales applications, 40 percent of sales organizations plan to deploy tablets initially or deploy them further. Since sales is already one of the largest adopters of tablets and smartphones, vendors that provide relevant applications will have a ready market. On the iPad, Xactly is providing sales analytics, easy access to quota and commission metrics and specifics of compensation plan performance by product and customer. Users can quickly determine sales performance and interact with the analytics. In addition to the native iPad app, Xactly offers a browser-based version that can work across a variety of smartphones, including those running Android. These advancements in sales analytics are smart as sales is one of the fastest growing adopters of using mobile tablets and smartphones for getting to applications and information. The new Xactly Explorer provides drill down and ad-hoc analytics needed by a range of sales roles. But beyond analytics they now provide the ability to set objectives to address the larger scope of sales performance that can be monitored and scored for integrating into a sales review for providing any additional compensation.
Along with the advances in mobility, Incent 8 helps administrators and sales operations team communicate within the application through its announcements, which can provide immediate notification for reviewing plans or when payments are ready to be made.
I like Xactly’s eDocs and Approvals module, which automates workflow for compensation documents and plans and integrates them within the system. This saves time and hassle by bringing all the components of a compensation plan into one application. Another module, Xactly Territories, lets users manage and optimize territories and define crediting rules and assignments, which is an area where mistakes often occur in manual and spreadsheet-based approaches. Xactly Sandbox provides users with a copy of their production data they can use to experiment as they deal with the changes that are constant in sales and strive to achieve their goals.
Almost half (49%) of sales organizations in our research admitted that the use of spreadsheets impedes the management of sales. Xactly can integrate data from sources such as sales force automation (SFA) and accounting applications and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets with its enhanced data integration service Xactly Express Connect, which uses technology from Informatica Cloud. This helps organizations bring data into the application and send it out to payroll and other systems that need commission and quota information. This application is built using Force.com, so it already integrates with Salesforce.com’s SFA environment.
Incent 8 shows sales administrators the state of their data and documents. To expedite access to the many applications that sales people might need to sign in for, Xactly has added SAML integration for easier single sign-on across applications. This release provides all the core capabilities for compensation and planning and management of sales commission payments. If you need analytics, modeling, territories and other capabilities, you can upgrade to other packages, which Xactly facilitates through its support services.
Xactly provides its applications on demand via software as a service (SaaS), which has become the preferred choice of 41 percent of sales organizations. By operating in the cloud Xactly can provide benchmark metrics that aggregate above and across its customers, providing broad insights into sales operations.
In addition to Incent 8, there is a new version of Xactly Express for small and midsize businesses; it also includes a tablet-based application that helps users ascertain their teams’ reps performance toward quota, which tops the list of concerns in our sales analytics research. Express also empowers sales teams to review their progress at any time without resorting to spreadsheets. The new version provides the drill-down and ad-hoc analytics needed by a range of sales roles, but beyond analytics, Xactly can set objectives and so monitor and score the complete scope of sales performance as part of reviews and for compensation purposes.
Xactly has supercharged its applications with analytics, which our research has found is the number-one technology trend for sales organizations, and now offering internal communication within its products that will hopefully evolve to further collaboration which is the second most desired technology trend in sales. Xactly goes well beyond sales compensation to provide a suite of applications for the needs of sales operations and the overall sales organization. Xactly understands the role of sales operations in supporting both management and account representatives, which is a major reason its business continues to grow. With Incent 8 it offers more sophisticated mobile and sales analytics support while addressing many of the core sales process and efficiency needs of organizations. I expect Xactly to continue to expand and support more needs of sales teams and impact not just the pipeline and forecast, but commissions and incentives. Xactly has advanced significantly since my last written analysis and continues to deliver incremental value to its customers and the industry. If you have not looked at Xactly recently, now might be the time to learn about the latest version.
CEO & Chief Research Officer
Retaining talent and managing financials related to compensation should be a top priority for the HR and finance functions of companies, and many of them realize this. In our recent benchmark research in total compensation management, 72 percent of participants said it’s important or very important to have a compensation system aligned to their processes. One newer provider to the market, Excentive, started in 2002 in Europe and expanded globally in 2009. Its Excentive Compensation Cockpit supplies more than just a managerial view of compensation; it’s a total compensation management application that enables users to design and model compensation across an entire workforce or for the specific needs of the sales and service lines of business.
Excentive has customers that operate across multiple countries, such asVodafone, Mercedes-Benz and Stryker. Its software supports the strategy of using compensation to retain talent and not just an obligation. As many organizations seek simpler methods to deploy sales incentives for agents and dealers, Excentive has made its software easy to set up and deploy in distributed organizations. In addition, Excentive uses the performance benchmarks of its customers to develop a range of metrics concerning calculation, communication, reviews and disputes, comparing results before and after using its tools.
Its application has a range of functionality with a good level of usability and manageability. They make it easy to access and integrate transactions across existing systems to recognize deals and link to individual employee compensation plans. The software includes a managerial dashboard that provides access to detailed reporting that can be used to assess to a performance index. It addresses compensation auditing and governance, which has become a key priority to ensure that appropriate compensation is given. The auditing capabilities offer easy navigation to the rules underlying a bonus or incentive, which helps in resolving disputes that can affect an organization’s ability to address issues in a timely manner.
While the product name’s focus on a cockpit is not entirely descriptive of what it offers, it can provide a view of sophisticated compensation plans covering merit pay, variable compensation, incentives, stock options and other forms of compensation. The compensation modeling environment provides flexibility to handle the rules and workflow required to operate divisions and varying currencies. In addition it provides integration back into payroll systems that can be tracked through the system. Excentive also can help in bonus management, salary review and equity management, activities that are not always considered part of compensation management.
Our research indicates the importance of integrating compensation management into talent management; more than one-third of organizations indicated this is very important, and two-thirds ranked lack of integration as the top barrier impeding compensation planning. Excentive should work to provide integration points to such systems with its application, and maybe even partner with providers that need a more sophisticated approach to compensation, such as Cornerstone, Saba and Ultimate Software; some providers already have an integrated compensation management application. Excentive also should be considered in areas like sales compensation and incentives where companies have complex compensation models related to sales quotas and products across customers and territories. The sales compensation management market includes suppliers such as Callidus Software, Merced Systems, Varicent and Xactly, but Excentive is demonstrating that it can compete in what are now two different markets with only one product, which depending on the alignment of compensation and sales operations could give it an advantage in the next couple of years.
We could not include Excentive in the 2011 Value Index for Total Compensation Management because the company had fewer customers and company efforts operating in North America in 2010, but it will be part of our 2011 evaluation for publishing in 2012, after its large growth in this part of the world. Excentive has a good opportunity to shake things up in the compensation application market. Organizations should consider its application and the successes of its customers as part of their own research.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer