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Advanced Selling Strategies

By Denis Pombriant
Feb 17, 2018 11:00 AM PT

One of CRM's overlooked benefits, accrued over many years, is its influence on business processes. Twenty or so years ago, front-office business processes were simplistic, due in part to the lack of technology support.

For example, business leaders might have wanted to peer into a sales process or develop detailed compensation plans to better incentivize sales reps, but because those jobs required a lot of data and data reduction, they rarely were pursued.

This isn't about complex regression analysis that can predict actions or advise about next best steps. Just being able to manage a lot of data (OK, big data) about the sales or compensation process could light up a business like never before.

SPM Rising

Vendors like Xactly were instrumental at capturing and managing that data, and that has resulted in new and better business processes.

For instance, and forgive me if you've heard this before, in the last 15 years compensation management has gone from a process done quarterly to one that can be done daily. At the same time, it has moved from the back office to the front.

With data, comp vendors like Xactly can give vendors the ability to run incentives that match the company's plan for individual products and territories without breaking a sweat. They also can recommend which deals look most promising when there's less than 30 days left in the quarter. That's no small thing.

All that is retrospective, though, and as valuable as it is, leaders also need radar for the quarter ahead.

Earlier this week, Xactly announced its acquisition of Obero, a sales performance management (SPM) company with credibility in new revenue recognition regulations -- ASC 606 in the U.S. and IFRS 15 in Europe -- that have a direct impact on how reps are paid.

Adding this capability to Xactly's set of incentive compensation technologies seems like a good fit. It's also timely.

SPM seems to be in the news lately, and it makes sense. For instance, Adaptive Insights just announced its business planning for sales product.

In many markets, especially tech, the easy days of greenfields and sporadic competition have been over for some time, and sales leaders find themselves in need of greater sales insight and discipline to bring in increasing quotas.

My Two Cents

Compensation and planning tools have become indispensable in sales, and the market is responding with good, credible solutions. Using them effectively will take some new understanding, as well as the thing that sales people dislike more than death and taxes -- change.

Most of the industry is comfortable with SFA tools today, though there are still vendors whose claims to legitimacy include telling customers that CRM is bad or difficult to use, or that reps won't use it. But that train has left the station.

CRM is no longer optional for most companies, and facility with these tools is required for most job seekers. Planning and compensation management are taking their places in the expanded definition of CRM, simply because we can't live without them any longer.

Announcements like this week's from Adaptive Insights and Xactly accurately reflect the state of the marketplace, and we ignore them at some risk.

Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can't Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. Email Denis.

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Self-driving vehicles should be banned -- one death is one too many.
Autonomous vehicles could save thousands of lives -- the tests should continue.
Companies with bad safety records should have to stop testing.
Accidents happen -- we should investigate and learn from them.
The tests are pointless -- most people will never trust software and sensors.
Most injuries and fatalities in self-driving auto tests are due to human error.