Xactly What Sales Needs To Improve

In addressing the needs of their sales and operations teams to automate and improve performance, many organizations turn to providers of sales applications designed for specific activities. Many of these activities, including sales compensation, incentives, commissions, quotas, territories and others, Xactly has been delivering for years. This company is no newcomer to the market, with significant experience in meeting the needs of small to midsize sales organizations, and more recently addressing the needs of larger ones. 

We have been tracking Xactly for some time. At the beginning of this year we released our Value Index on Sales Performance Management, which we believe is the most comprehensive research on the vendors and products dedicated to optimizing sales processes and performance. In this research, we rated Xactly a Hot Vendor, the highest level of accomplishment in our in-depth research. Our analysis found that its application suite has a well-balanced approach to the key aspects of usability, manageability, reliability, adaptability and functionality and had made significant advancement since our previous analysis. Since then, Xactly has continued to advance its capabilities to further its growth in the market.  

Xactly offers a suite of modules tightly integrated with Xactly Incent, the company’s foundation application for sales. With the release of Xactly Incent 7.1, the applications are available on smartphones. In addition, for sales representatives on commission, the company has released  Plan Illustrator, which provides a visual map of a commission plan, tracks representatives’ progress to quota and estimates potential commissions. With Xactly Estimator sales can quickly calculate commissions within its application and also within salesforce and Oracle SFA. They also added expanded effective dating support for rate tables at assignment level along with related quotas. As well it has retrofitted the Xactly Territories applications’  data integration capabilities with order systems and other critical data. Flexibility of integrating data is important, as our benchmark research found difficulty in preparing data for analysis to be the largest source of dissatisfaction in sales analytics; sales organizations spend two-thirds of their time on data-related tasks rather than analytic ones.  

Xactly eDocs & Approvals can now dynamically route payments through sales and finance managers for approval – that is critical for improving clarity in payments. For improving manageability Xactly has added an administrative dashboard for sales operations it calls myHome, which helps staff members know what needs to be addressed across sales-related activities and processes. Xactly already had robust reporting and analytics, which has been one of its core differentiators in the market. I personally like how Xactly has made sales a contest for achievement that can be seen in its ranking pods that provides notification on achievement ranking for individuals and teams that can be easily access on smart phones like Apple and RIM Blackberry. The company also provides what it calls a sandbox – an isolated environment in which organizations can work with their applications safely and securely to test changes before placing them into production. 

I expect to see even more advances in Xactly’s application suite, along with more support for smartphones and tablets to enhance access to and mobility of the applications. Xactly is focused on advancing automation and improving the sales processes in order to increase the confidence and selling focus of sales organizations. It’s worth considering to help your organization become more effective across the range of activities in sales operations.  


Mark Smith 

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Gaining Sales Traction with Merced Systems

Looking to make your sales force more effective by automating its operations? Merced Systems can provide the traction your sales team needs. The company has been providing applications for more than a decade to customer service and more recently sales organizations, helping both measure and manage performance. Several years ago Merced Systems made a substantial investment to expand to the sales organization with new applications and now offers analytics and reporting, compensation and incentives, and coaching and talent development.  

These applications combine in what we call a sales performance management framework, which our benchmark research found to be a key tool for sales executives and sales operations teams; gaining these capabilities is the number-one driver for investment in new systems. This category also draws on investments in sales force automation (SFA) as one of many data sources.  

Merced Systems Sales Performance Management version 4.0, announced in May, and planned to be generally available in September, adds a range of capabilities to the core Merced Incentive Compensation Management and Sales Compensation Analytics applications. 

Incentive Compensation Management improves the user experience from the point of entry to the application through the communications made within it. Sales operations teams will find a significant advance in workflow and process design and control of sales incentives. Through a visual designer you lay out the workflow of activities with business rules and notifications to ensure tasks are done in the right order. Merced has added the ability to rapidly assembly forms that can be connected to points in the workflow, which helps ensure compliance with incentive policies and any SLAs, and enriches auditing. Communicating incentive plans clearly is critical to motivating sales personnel, and Merced has improved the software’s ability to provide notifications and access to plans. Sales operations teams will like the control they have in setting rules and archiving email communications. Merced also has made dispute management a simpler process from entry to routing and notification, and improved the design of and access to the compensation model for those who spend time establishing and reviewing calculations. This adds the capability most requested by sales operations teams in our benchmark research on sales – to accurately calculate sales commissions. Merced also has deepened its integration with salesforce.com applications, providing single sign-on linkage to allow access to information from within the SFA application. 

In sales compensation analytics, Merced now provides prebuilt analytics and metrics that you can rapidly access once your sales data is loaded into the system. This content can save time and help establish critical metrics for the sales organization. Using a range of visualizations, including speedometers, anyone in sales can quickly determine where they are in regard to quota and commission. Management can get a quick view of performance by geographic area and account and track the effectiveness of compensation plans to the larger sales plan. The system generates sales compensation reports quickly, including statements that are critical in communicating to sales reps. Sales staff can access the sales analytics via Apple’s iPhone and iPad mobile platforms. The design and deployment is simple, with analytics technology built on top of MicroStrategy, one of the leading technologies in the market. These critical advancements address many of the top needs of sales organizations, according to our sales analytics benchmark, among them having analytics to assess sales rep performance and being able to migrate away from the use of spreadsheets, which have issues with accuracy. Merced also improved the usability of its sales analytics, addressing the most important product consideration for 63 percent of sales organizations.  

Along with these and other areas of advancement, Merced is in transition to a platform that provides enterprise-class process and workflow support. As mentioned, it has begun to focus on providing analytics and reporting to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These factors, along with simpler access by sales executives, operations and account managers, have improved since my last review of the company as part of our annual Sales Performance Management Value Index and my last blog on it in 2010. Merced’s global presence in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific enables it to handle the challenges of currency and language support necessary to do business locally around the world.  

In an environment where revenue and sales are essential for business success, Merced Systems is helping raise the bar for supporting and managing sales teams. If you are looking for a mature approach to managing the performance of your sales talent, processes and the quality of information utilized, Merced Systems should be on your list of suppliers to evaluate.  


Mark Smith 

CEO & Chief Research Officer