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What’s In It for Everybody? Managing Buy-in for an SPM System from Influencers Outside of Sales

October 01, 2018

Investing in a sales performance management (SPM) solution is not something a business does casually. Depending on what definition of SPM that’s in use, this decision involves an assortment of applications: compensation management, on-boarding and coaching, analytics, sales enablement, or any mixture of these (and perhaps others).

At first blush, this may seem like a decision that’s squarely in the sales department. Heck, the word “sales” is right in the acronym! But when you dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that the decision to implement SPM is a move that can change things for multiple parts of the business, and change brings uncertainty. With the trend toward more decision makers involved in every buying decision (an average of eight per deal, according to an oft-repeated stat from IDC), it’s only obvious that there are many concerns to meet for companies looking to add SPM functionality. IDC also helpfully points out that these IT decision makers also work with an average of 5.8 functions or titles (5.2 at SMBs, 6.4 at enterprise-level companies). That’s a lot of people who could have input into an SPM decision.

So, people not in sales could have a significant influence on the choice of SPM applications, or on whether an SPM solution is selected at all. But SPM has advantages across the entire business, and they can be compelling for these influencers – if the case for SPM is made addressing its advantages to them. Let’s look at some of these roles and what they stand to gain from the use of SPM:

IT: Because SPM connects to so many software systems within a company, IT has to be a committed partner to any project. The worry CIOs may have is that all those connections may represent a significant amount of work that may tax the IT assets of the company. A commitment of assets is certainly needed – but having an SPM solution in place makes IT a more complete strategic partner in the business. When a connected solution from one vendor is selected, it can also lessen the burden on IT; a set of SPM applications from a single company should have built-in integrations that make IT’s life a lot simpler than having to integrate separate applications piecemeal over time, or needing to rescue a motley collection of cloud-based point solutions implemented without IT’s input. Limiting the number of vendors involved also makes IT’s ability to support the solution easier over time, since there will be fewer points of contact and less chances that updates will break links within the SPM solution.

Finance: SPM has a direct impact on finance’s efficiency, productivity and accuracy. Compensation management improves payment speed and accuracy, of course, but it also generates data for analysis, meaning more accurate data-driven forecasting, better collaboration with sales ops on future commissions plans to keep sales compensation expenses in check, and fewer conflicts with the sales department over slow payments or mistakes.

HR: Hiring and retaining top sales talent today is not easy. According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, 83 percent of recruiters say that talent is the No. 1 priority at their company, and the No. 1 role they’ll be recruiting for is sales. This means two things: one, hanging on to your great sales talent is harder than ever, and two, bringing in great sales talent is also harder than ever. There are a lot of reasons top talent leaves – and many of those reasons revolve around the management and payout of commissions. Errors, delays and unexplained changes erode a salesperson’s faith in the company they sell for and can make him or her open to outside influence. Another area of failure: skills development. Too many organizations stop training and coaching salespeople effectively once they’ve started to produce. That makes salespeople feel like cogs in the machine and leads them to look for new opportunities where they’ll receive more investment in their skills. Other SPM functionality – including sales enablement and analytics – can help the sales team sell more efficiently and place them in a better position to make their numbers and bring home bigger checks. Creating a great place for salespeople to work and giving them the tools they need to succeed makes a sales organization more attractive to new talent and keeps existing talent happy.

Marketing: According to some estimates, almost $1 billion a year is wasted on content that is never used or is ineffective. It’s not that the content isn’t well-written or useful – it’s often a situation where, lacking a structure, it simply fades from view and is never employed. Salespeople can’t be expected to know everything in the content library from memory; you need a sales enablement component to you sales performance stack. Understanding what works and what doesn’t – not to mention where it is, how to get it, and which potential customers it would have the greatest effect with – means that marketing writes less but has greater impact on revenue. And with revenue numbers increasingly being used as a way to measure marketing effectiveness, sales enablement is a great way to cause marketing impact to balloon while reducing costs, making it a critical tool for demonstrating marketing’s contribution.

SPM’s impact extends far beyond the sales department. As it expands sales’ abilities and grows revenues, it also helps generate new data for financial analysis, helps make customers and employees more satisfied, and unlocks the hidden value in marketing assets. It’s a winning formula for everyone in the business, no matter what title’s printed on their business cards.

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