How To Unite Sales Performance Management With HR To Accelerate Growth

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By Maryann Abbajay, Chief Revenue Officer, SAP SuccessFactors

Performance management, for most sales organizations, is increasingly challenging – but not from a lack of effort to improve it. Sales leaders have enlisted the help of their HR departments to replace the unpopular “forced curve” rank-choice system with compensation models that boost motivation while improving efficiency and business outcomes. Yet rapid shifts in how people want to work and how customers prefer to be engaged continue to evolve everything from skill development to commissions and quotas.

While talent management remains a moving target, poor compensation visibility and incomplete employee data only worsen matters. Sales leaders struggle to identify pervasive issues and spot outliers that may indicate mistreatment or favoritism that counter sales KPIs and talent retention goals, leading to an organizational culture of mistrust and disengagement.

The solution to this sales performance management issue may be hidden in plain sight: fairness in employee evaluations, rewards, and investments. Practicing fair play is a business imperative that applies to everyone. This means implementing market-based target compensation that is internally equitable​​ to the transparency of pay ranges and criteria for compensation decisions while aligning to the impact on business results. By uniting performance management and HR best practices, businesses can create a sales culture of transparency, trust, and advocacy that forms superior employee experiences and drives revenue growth.

Driving success through a partnership of equity

Sales performance management includes three fundamentals: planning, execution, and analytics. All three pillars must be applied to sales teams as well as organizations across all revenue-generating areas, including inside and solutions sales, sales engineering, sales enablement, business development, service management, and customer support.

But how can sales organizations account for every role contributing to revenue growth in territory and quota planning? How can they assign tasks that help ensure they divide responsibilities reasonably across those roles and measure outcomes with relevance, purpose, and clarity? Better yet, how can they help ensure employee are compensated and incentivized in ways that are equitable to their influence and contribution to the bottom line?

The key to answering all these questions is tapping into to employees in revenue-generating areas to the same degree the company connects with its customers – no matter their location, position, and seniority. By partnering with HR, sales leadership can deliver fantastic work experiences that reflect core business values and appeal to a desire for trust, diversity, and inclusion.

Take, for example, Maui Jim Inc., the world’s largest independently owned sunglasses brand. After establishing a digital-commerce presence to deliver amazing buying experiences to customers worldwide, the company helped ensure revenue generating teams were supported and treated well by modernizing its sales commission system. Why? Because the company knows organizational readiness is equally important to deliver a customer experience that is effective and beneficial – for everyone.

Maui Jim’s sales reps can now see stock availability in real time on their mobile phones and place orders on the spot when they visit accounts. But perhaps more exciting for the 300-person sales team is the ability to receive compelling incentive plans in under a week, without IT intervention, to respond to changing business conditions.

Equipped with a simplified, streamlined, and empowering sales process, revenue-generating teams, as well as retailers and partners, are increasing their productivity and forging stronger relationships with the Maui Jim brand and customers. Even customers are more delighted – not only with the sunglasses they buy but also with their entire experience, including smoother purchase and repair processes.

Aligning sales performance and employee experience

Maui Jim’s experience demonstrates that embracing employees’ expectations, needs, well-being, aspirations, and goals plays a significant role in sales performance. This is the case whether the organization is planning and assigning territories, managing quotas, augmenting the customer experience, or orchestrating changes in business models.

However, sales administrators can spend excessive time turning data from back-office functions into meaningful experiences. They need to collate additional information from HR and finance and undergo a continuous exercise of deriving insights, making connections, validating current policies and processes, and formulating new strategies.

What’s missing in most sales organizations is a digital environment that integrates sales performance management and HR data. This gives administrators and decision-makers a unified, real-time, and more accurate view of that intelligence in the right business context. For example, a business moving from perpetual licensing to subscription-based consumption can confidently discuss opportunities and risks for customer lifetime value, revenue generation, and quota and incentive achievements.

As a result, sales leaders can better understand how existing and new revenue models, processes, or customer experiences impact profitability and sales success. Leadership can assign job roles, prospect assignments, and quota levels more strategically. And most important, revenue-generating organizations can help ensure their financial spending delivers the most-optimized business outcomes while reducing surprises and improving transparency.

Find out how your business can benefit from integrating sales performance management with HR processes and best practices. Watch the on-demand Webcast, “Sales Performance Management + HR = Strategic Outcomes.”

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