IT Science Case Study: Sales Performance Management the New-Gen Way

eWEEK IT SCIENCE: To stay ahead of the pack, sales leaders need data to be more knowledgeable about their customers and teams. They also need also the technology to automate core processes, like territory planning and commissions to ensure efficient growth and error-free payouts.

Here is the latest article in an eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Today’s Topic: How to Do Sales Performance Management the New-Gen Way

Name the problem to be solved: Sales performance management is one of the biggest challenges for organizations today. To stay ahead of the pack, sales leaders need data to be more knowledgeable about their customers and teams. They also need also the technology to automate core processes, like territory planning and commissions to ensure efficient growth and error-free payouts.

Employing more than 30,000 people in more than 100 countries and powering $46 billion in transactions annually, Manheim, the U.S. Inventory Solutions division of Cox Automotive, needed to reinvent its sales compensation program. With a U.S. sales force of more than 1,000 employees and nearly 450 people on variable compensation plans, the company didn’t have the right processes in place to ensure the company was growing efficiently and sustainably. At a high level, Cox Automotive was suffering from:

  • a lack of integration between database sources, leading to confusion about discrepancies, time consuming manual data uploads and reconciliation efforts;
  • the inability to glean analytics due to poor rules-based configurations that  prevented transparency; and
  • underutilized analytics reporting, commission estimation capability and other functionalities were guesswork. Cox Automotive was not using its data insights strategically.

Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: To overcome these challenges, Cox recognized the value that could come from having external ICM solutions to provide best practice insights on how to optimize and leverage technology to achieve their future goals. It partnered with Xactly Strategic Services and OpenSymmetry, a leading implementation and managed services partner.

List the key components in the solution:

  1. Xactly Connect: Gives companies the ability to automate and streamline the flow of data across the entire sales performance management (SPM) suite with an open, standards-based data integration platform.
  2. Xactly Incent: Ensures error-free compensation payments, increases operational efficiencies, and drives productivity with on-demand visibility into commission data.

Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took, and if it came off as planned: The project had high visibility across the Cox Automotive organization. The company worked closely with OpenSymmetry consultants and Xactly to ensure best practices, top initiatives, and internal efforts were kept in mind throughout the project. Zeroing in on the desired future state over the course of the entire process—from conception to implementation—was key. To keep the project on track, OpenSymmetry organized all-hands meetings with Cox executives and the ICM project management team as well as all of Cox’s relevant software partners.

Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project:

  • Data Integration: Successful data integration led to improved visibility, faster commission processing time, 50+ hours saved per pay period on administration time, and easily self-auditable plan progress.
  • Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) Analytics: Analytics dashboards and business intelligence capabilities were incorporated into the monthly ICM analysis. It’s been invaluable to the organization, offering metrics that optimize performance management and drive plan design strategies. It’s saved Cox Automotive more than 70 hours of administration time per pay period, eliminating delayed and manual reporting creation.
  • Optimization: The company was able to eliminate more than 25 hours per pay period of administrative work related to compiling, tracking, and auditing sales document. Up-to-date sales documentation coupled with structured workflow approval processes increase transparency and communication. It also put an end to manual document tracking and dispute resolutions.

Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, and staff time savings, if any: Overall, Cox was able to free up more than 170 hours of administrative time per pay period, resulting in $2.1 million in total savings. The company is using that time to build out new strategic initiatives that open up new revenue streams. What’s more, the improved user experience has led to higher sales rep engagement.

On the sales forecasting side, the company’s attainment was 99 percent last year where most companies that do not use SPMs solutions average about 53 percent, according to CSO Insights. The technology that Cox has implemented is powering extreme accuracy across the sales organization.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...