5 Reasons Growing Businesses Need to Let Go of Spreadsheets to Improve Sales Performance

As a growing business, you realize sales are the key difference between thriving and failure. No matter how innovative your products and services are, without sales you simply will not survive. The stronger the sales, the more your ability to expand, attract new talent and serve customers.

So why is it so rare that when it comes to investing in technology to support the business, sales systems rarely rise to the top? In fact, according to a Salesforce 2016 Connected Small Business Report, less than half of company owners surveyed use any type of business process automation. Instead, they trust their most critical business success factor to spreadsheets. In its 2017 “Sales Analytics Benchmark Research,” Ventana Research reported that spreadsheets are  used more often by smaller organizations – adding that they are “ineffective and can be problematic” when it comes to managing sales. This has been especially true in managing sales compensation programs – the number one weapon any company has to align, drive and motivate sales performance.

In large part, this has been because the cost and complexity of implementing new sales incentive compensation management has limited adoption for growing businesses. However, the power of the cloud has significantly lowered the barriers to entry, providing growing companies with enterprise-class functionality and without the enterprise price tag. Moreover, many of these solutions can be implemented and managed without any technical know-how needed and offer the familiar look and feel of a spreadsheet, providing all the advantages of a modern, intelligent, automated solution.

The long and the short, there is no reason to leave something as important as sales performance to spreadsheets – the risk is too high. Here are five reasons you should automate your sales compensation approach to:

 1.     Motivate your sales team: By giving your employees transparency into their incentive compensation data, you drive higher performance and build trust. When sales personal can easily visualize where they are in terms of meeting their goals and quotas, they are proven to demonstrate peak performance. Spreadsheets create a scenario where sales might be able to see “the stick” – but can’t visualize that carrot they are trying to reach to maximize their earnings potential and that of your business. Moreover, they will be spending valuable time manually tracking their own potential commission (shadow accounting), taking time away from what they should be focused on – selling.

2.     Enhance sales intelligence: You may be thinking at this point, “I can track commissions just fine on spreadsheets.” But what data are you really getting out of them beyond a payment number? Are you able to connect your post and pre-sales data to better understand your customers? Are you able to analyze what’s driving sales, and where? Automated compensation systems enable you to run advanced analytics to gain better intelligence into how your sales are working and what changes need to be made to optimize potential. Moreover, they can provide collective insight into everything from the best payment mix to what special incentives (SPIFs) work best to drive performance and retain top-performing sales reps.

3.     Optimize your potential: Having a strong sales compensation plan in place is key to growth. However, when managed in spreadsheets, plans often have to be so dulled down that they don’t align with your corporate objectives. Moreover, they are too complex to change in real-time and therefore cannot move with the changing dynamics of your business. As such, you are not directing your sales teams and driving behaviors that fuel top line growth – limiting your potential and leaving money on the table.  

4.     Eliminate HR and payment nightmares: Depending on your sales plan structure, some payment schemes can be tough to mange from a sales perspective, such as when multiple parties are credited for a deal. For example, outside sales and customer support. Running these calculations on spreadsheets leave a lot of room for error and incorrect payments, which can also lead to unneeded clawbacks, disputes and mis-trust from your sales team.

5.     Reduce risk: Using spreadsheets are like driving at night in dark tinted sunglasses. You have a little visibility, but not enough to be safe. Automated systems provide the predictability, accuracy and auditability you need to not only better track commissions, but ensure you are doing it within the confines of required regulations. Not to mention you gain the ability to forecast more acutely, leaving no surprises at the end of the quarter.With fewer resources and manpower, growing businesses are often challenged in expanding sales, but by leveraging new sales technologies, such as incentive compensation management, you have the power to re-think how you manage and motivate your sales team to increase sales efficiencies, scale faster and accelerate performance.

Whether you have one sales rep or twenty-five, there is no reason you and your sales team should not reap the benefit of enterprise-grade technology to level the playing field with the gorillas in your space. Can you really afford not to?

If you want more tips, tricks and resources on how your growing business can optimize sales performance, visit: https://www.xactlycorp.com/simplycomp/

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