CallidusCloud’s big event drew to a close roughly a week ago, which has given me a little time to reflect on some of the things I heard from customers while I was there. Since I come from, a journalism background rather than a marketing background, I was looking for great stories, not just great stories about my company (much to my CMO’s chagrin). There were stories there in abundance – all you had to do was to talk to people.
I had the added bonus of being able to moderate panels on CPQ and Commissions, which gave me a deeper view of some of these stories.
The Commissions panel had a late cancellation, which allowed us to sneak Walt Brubaker on the panel. Walt, a big gregarious guy who looks like a mashup of George Peppard and Forrest Tucker, is a C3 veteran, a frequent CallidusCloud Community contributor, and long-time compensation consultant who provided a great balance to the customers on the panel (more about one of them in a minute). The panel’s overarching theme was the idea of changing sales behaviors with commissions, and Walt told a story about a major office supply company he’d worked with in the past to implement a commissions plan not for field sales or inside sales, but for everyone in the company. “That’s why, when you walk in the store, everybody’s eager to help you find what you’re looking for,” he said. The incentives for doing this weren’t enormous – 25 cents here, 50 cents there – and they were predicated on the entire store team reaching a goal. Walt, who was used to corporate sales compensation, was skeptical. What value was there in behavior that could be changed two bits at a time?
The company had done its research and it had an answer. The CEO told Walt that these small incentives, spread around the entire workforce, would add eight percent to revenues and three percent to profits. “Now, go do it!” was the order, and that’s what the company achieved.
Anthony Denmeade, senior vice president, director of sales ops at Dreyfus Corporation, was on the same panel. His story was all about what goes on behind the scenes in a company growing by acquisition. As BNY Mellon, Dreyfus’ parent, acquired more boutique investment advisory companies, he faced a potentially unmanageable situation, with multiple comp plans managed in multiple ways. With executive buy-in, he’s in the middle of rationalizing these plans on a common platform – but he’s doing not by chucking everything all at once but instead doing it in a deliberate, cautious way that takes into account the conservative nature of the sales teams of these businesses. An edict from on high decreeing a move to a common platform and a common approach would have been difficult to execute and would have led to unrest within the sales force. Just as you’d manage your investment portfolio, Anthony said, establish objectives, be deliberate, and realize that you’re in it for the long haul.
On the CPQ panel, Joyous Chiu-Rothell, the director, global sales operations at EFI (Electronics for Imaging – think of breakthrough technologies for printing) cut right past the traditional benefits of CPQ. Productivity and customer experience are enormously important to EFI, of course, but EFI’s surprise benefit was the discipline that CPQ enforced on a company that had never really needed it for its product cataloging and descriptions. The end of the quarter resulted in a lot of deals that used customized bundles, new configurations and other uses of sales’ creativity that were great for getting deals done but which left lots of holes in the spreadsheet-based product catalog and pricing systems EFI used, with partial data a frequent problem that meant these new products and combinations of products could not be sold again without being re-created on the spreadsheets. CPQ forced a degree of data discipline on the process – it simply doesn’t work unless new products and bundles are defined properly. It might seem like a hassle to the sales team at first until salespeople realize they can create quotes far faster when they don’t have to re-invent the wheel – at which point, the purpose of that data discipline becomes obvious.
These are just three of the many stories I heard. There were hundreds of these kinds of stories at C3, and hopefully we can flesh out more of them in this post-event period. They’re great stories not because they’re about software – they’re great stories because they’re about people. There’s no date set yet for the next C3, but when we have one for you do yourself a favor and start thinking about your own story, and more important, about your own problems, and come to the show looking for a story that will help your company live happily ever after.