The New Year always brings new hope, and with new hope, new initiatives and new incentives, especially for sales teams.
It’s a bold time of year, for sure. But what a lot of sales operations managers seem to forget is what they learned from the previous year and carry that over as a foundation BEFORE they get into the new stuff.
So quickly, let’s review what we learned in 2017 about driving sales behavior:
- Speed: 2017 was the year for speed. You learned that without quick compensation reports, payouts, and analysis, you won’t learn anything, and you will see high turnover from your reps, and you’ll never improve.
- Scalability: There’s nothing like getting just the right incentive compensation management system going, only to have it flop in the face of precisely the sales team growth it spawned. In 2017 you learned that you need a system that’s easily and affordably scalable, so that you don’t have to go back to square one.
- Simplicity: The average business user needs to be able to use your incentive compensation management system intuitively, or it’s not worth it. In 2017, you learned the relationship between simplicity and ramping up sales.
- Integration: 2017 was the year of integration and partnerships between software platforms, especially SaaS platforms. Your incentive compensation management system need to easily integrate with other popular tools and platforms, or you will not be getting the most value possible from it.
Now for 2018. Arguably, the trends we’re looking at in 2018 are a bit scarier and more, let’s say, long-term. They are:
Incentive compensation plans are seeming to become only more complex and intricate as they try to drive behavior at a more granular level. This means you will need your incentive compensation management system to be extremely flexible to reward your sales teams correctly and accurately and establish a culture of engagement and motivation.
Wide adoption and use
Incentive compensation management systems used to be the exclusive domain of sales managers and sales ops leaders. Now, they are accessed and used almost year-round for strategic purposes by up-line/downline managers, finance personnel, and HR practitioners. This again means you need your system to be easy to use and easy to integrate with other core operational systems.
Of course, globalization itself has been going on for decades. But 2018 is going to see more workforce distribution than ever before as our technologies allow us to be connected anywhere and at all times. This means your incentive compensation management system must adhere to the ways pay practices differ around the world, and strategies must be in place to easily adapt and translate your system to new environments and to local languages and currencies.
As artificial intelligence and machine learning come into their own, 2018 will bring new powers and possibilities in the realm of sales reporting and predictions. Sales ops leaders will be able to forecast total compensation costs based on different “what if” scenarios and do year-round data analysis and change course mid-cycle if needed, maybe even numerous times.
The staples of a great incentive compensation management system have always been security, comprehensiveness, easy integration, speed, scalability, and flexibility. If you have all that already, you should be more than ready to handle the four above-mentioned trends coming in 2018. But if you’re not sure what you have, the best place to start to see how your incentive compensation management system stacks up to the leaders in the market.