Progress with Limited Resources

A common challenge many organizations are facing this year is the reduction of budgets for programs that support operational aspects of their businesses. Even critical path programs like compensation, and more specifically, Sales Performance Management (SPM) are susceptible to a constriction in funding as we all aim to drive efficiencies and improvements, while managing to a tight top line.  

This likely means that as a leader of a core operational aspect of your organization that you are constantly being challenged to make progress with limited resources and technologies. As a partner who provides coaching and planning support for SPM, we engage to help clients discern their priorities and what will add the most value with the resources available.  

One of the first activities we might undertake with clients is to hold a series of stakeholder interviews to gather each group’s or team’s priorities surrounding their SPM program. These stakeholders often span groups like human resources, IT, legal, sales operations, sales leadership, and executive leadership teams. This undertaking is important to ensure that each group feels heard and represented, and to begin to identify where there may be overlapping needs or wants. Once the interviews are complete, we then work with our clients to quantify the impact. Impact can include things such as risk reduction, number of people benefiting (administrators, leaders, and salespeople), and anticipated costs savings over a set duration. Oftentimes, we distill this into a heatmap rating (green, yellow, red) to show more simply what needs immediate attention, and what can likely be deferred to a later date when additional resources may be available. The heatmap approach also has the added benefit of not singling out any specific group or team, but showing what will benefit the organization holistically. Based on the heatmap results, the different categories and items can then be translated into an prioritized roadmap of what can be completed along with target timeframes.  

While conducting a heatmap exercise might sound aspirational, it allows your organization to align on expectations with what can be changed, updated, and delivered with resources available; ultimately ensuring that each stakeholder group has clarity on when things that may be important to them can be tackled. 

If you don’t have the resources to complete a full inventory of stakeholder interviews and to develop a heatmap, then the need remains to create a prioritized roadmap to help set expectations across the various teams that interact with and support the SPM program. Without knowing specifics, we typically provide these parameters to help shape a roadmap: 

  1. First, focus on pay impacting elements; this is the foundation of your SPM program, and it is critical that pay is accurate, so anything that creates and guarantees accurate calculations should be the top priority. 
  2. Basic reporting is important for proper transparency and also allows those receiving variable pay to have visibility into how their payments are being calculated, creating confidence that they are compensated correctly. Ultimately this keeps sellers focused on selling, and has an added benefit of also reducing administrative time that was previously required to resolve questions or disputes about payments. 
  3. Next, focus on reducing administrative time so that administrators can focus on high level analysis and reporting requests. This means that setting up an application-based approach for managing workflows for inquiries and disputes will allow traceability to the questions being asked, and allow multiple administrators to provide support (which can reduce time to resolve).  
  4. Lastly, focus on administrative and leadership level reporting. While more senior leaders are likely quite eager to have transparency into performance of sales teams and compensation plans, the essential items must be in place to allow operational teams to answer these questions and provide this executive level analysis. If needed, you can start small with roll-up and stack ranking reports to provide basic insights before tackling in-depth performance analysis. 

Overall, it is important to set expectations internally on what aspects of the SPM program will be tackled, before jumping into action. Once there is alignment and awareness of what will be done, then the work can begin, following the organization’s heatmap and prioritized roadmap. 

Article written by: Anne Denney

OpenSymmetry Favicon

Stop searching. We have your answers.