Filling the Gap Between Sales Performance Management and Customer Experience

What does a sales incentive compensation system have to do with creating a better customer experience? Probably a lot more than you think. And it’s probably a lot more crucial than you think.

Filling the Gap Between Sales Performance Management and Customer Experience

A commissions system that isn’t part of a framework that aligns with a larger customer experience (CX) initiative is a system that will fail to meet corporate objectives. Grasping the essential elements of a successful customer experience strategy ahead of deployment will mitigate oversights and long-term mistakes.

So how do you connect the dots between commissions and CX, removing fatal gaps that can sink strategic revenue goals?

Understand the radically changed B2B selling environment

First off, you have to realize what a completely different B2B selling environment modern sellers now face. Buyers want speed, accuracy, product transparency, and the best possible pricing. Yes, buyers expect the experience of Amazon and eBay, and other consumer sites, but they want even more.

In the context of the B2B world, sales reps need to be able to deeply understand the customer to build loyalty and earn business. For sales management, that requires a system that prevents sales rep churn while providing sales teams what they need to sell and forge relationships.

Recognize that unconnected calculation engines are not enough

The first generation of incentive compensation tools automated the process of plan design, execution of commission calculations, and provided a means to pay sales reps. So far, so good; it was significantly better than spreadsheets.

But automation alone is not enough. Compensation systems have to be scalable to provide the necessary level of complexity required for enterprise organizations and complex compensation plans. They also need to be “agile” by enabling business users to make changes and adjust plans without waiting for a service bureau from a third party.

Aside from being agile, your commission systems need to be connected on a framework that natively shares data and is easily expandable. A sales incentive compensation system that is a standalone silo will not be sufficient.

Making the connection a reality

So you have a commissions system that theoretically can be connected to other sales automation and customer experience applications... but is it really connected? For example, can your commissions estimate be surfaced in your customer quoting and configuration system in real time?

Connecting compensation to maximize business outcomes provides sales with the right incentive to drive corporate objectives and increase deal size. The same goes with integration into your CRM system. To make the connection a reality, look for pre-built connections as much as possible to increase time-to-value while maintaining agility.

Go with proven sales-focused applications

Sales automation tools need to align with revenue plans and results need to be monitored for what effect they are having and what behaviors they are promoting. But these insights can’t be a dry academic exercise in accounting and planning; they need to get into the psyche of the sales rep and actually work to drive up revenue, excitement, and loyalty. They need to align with how sales reps actually operate.

Modern businesses need a system that communicates plans efficiently, handles disputes effectively, and provides clear dashboards and reports for sales ops and sales managers. This helps keep reps happy, preventing churn, and giving clear direction at every step.

Look for a connected sales performance management suite

A connected suite with links between various sales tools is the best way to ensure you have a platform to deliver operational excellence, providing a clear picture of both the sales rep’s activity and the customer’s engagement. To deliver an end-to-end experience, these systems also need to be connected to back-end systems for planning, provisioning, and support.

For example, if you have a good commissions tool, and a great quoting tool, but your customer ordered a product that cannot be delivered for three months because of supply-chain issues, then you have a problem. This critical information needs to be provided to sales in advance to avoid a terrible customer experience. Look for a suite that connects to supply chain management, billing, and other systems.

Want to learn more about how to connect the gap between sales performance management and customer experience? See this webinar: “The CX Gap: the Existential Threat B2B Sales Forces Don’t See Coming.”

By Grant Smith | December 4th, 2018 | Commissions

About the Author: Grant Smith

Grant Smith

Grant Smith is a business-minded technology enthusiast and product-marketing expert specializing in customer-experience technology. At SAP, his role centers around sales performance management, thought leadership, and CX market analysis. When he isn’t glued to a computer screen, he spends time finding new adventures and places to explore with his daughters.