When sales compensation software solutions don’t work “out of the box”

December 05, 2019

Oftentimes, at the end of conference season, sales operations professionals come back to their companies with armfuls of brochures for sales compensation software tools that promise to cure all commissions processing woes and complete plan changes in the blink of an eye. Automation and efficiency seem just an implementation away.

However, many companies often underestimate the challenge of implementing and supporting a new technology, missing out on the key details that would ensure success after the purchase. They find it a surprise later on that the “out of the box” technology they purchased is not so “out of the box” after all, and it’s definitely not a magic pill that cures all sales compensation woes – in fact, it may create more problems. In addition to that, after three demos, all the vendors begin to look the same – what then?

Questions to ask during the technology evaluation

To avoid such a scenario, companies evaluating sales compensation technologies and vendors should consider the following questions:

  1. Does the technology do what you need it to and how does it do it?
  2. What are the limitations of the technology to meet the business needs?
  3. Does the technology integrate with your existing system? If not, what will it take to do so?
  4. Is the sales compensation data set up in a way that can be configured into the new technology?
  5. Do you have the resources to support and maintain the technology?
  6. What is the plan to communicate how to use the new technology?

When a new technology is selected, it is important to consider your company’s ability to embrace the new system, which involves considering the people, process, and technology network in place in the incentive compensation management (ICM) process. Any structured system makes it harder to do things unless you have good processes in place – your processes may not be up to speed to have an ICM system. This isn’t easy – it takes commitment.

Tips for considering life after implementation

Investing in a sales compensation software tool takes a lot of planning - companies often find themselves disappointed within the first few years after implementation if clear strategic guidelines are not set in place from the beginning. Here are some tips to consider while evaluating new sales compensation technologies:

  1. Assess the degree of change – Understand the impact on the direction of the business and how much internal change is required for the sales organization, sales operations group, and the technology support team when the new technology will be introduced.
  2. Consider the resources needed – This includes the level of the organization’s experience of successful change management and communications capability. Technology implementation projects often fail when there is no strategy for people management before, during, and after the implementation.
  3. Have a support plan post-implementation – Assess the ability to support the technology after the go-live. If needed, consider using outsourced, short-term support while internal resources are being trained on the new system.

Successful change management means connecting all the pieces that touch the new sales compensation technology. Sales organizations need an approach that effectively evaluates both individual and business level concerns and capabilities.

Considering a new sales compensation technology but have challenges regarding implementation readiness and strategy? Contact us for a free consultation to discuss options, challenges, and other questions you may have.

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