Navigating the Challenges of Sales Performance Management Systems with Unique Data Sets

Navigating the Challenges of Performance Management System with Unique Data Set

“Customers and employees will always be the two most important elements of a business and its how brands can make both their lives easiest. Empowering sales teams to thrive with the correct technology and tools at their disposal should be step number one,” says Jamie Anderson, Chief Sales Officer, Xactly, in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO.

TCMO Bureau: What are the struggles brands are facing with the current revenue performance management systems?

Jamie Anderson: The key thing to note is that the market for revenue management systems is still forming at the moment; information continues to live in different systems, dispersed around an organization.

Now the issue with the fragmented data sets that brands have to work with is that it’s difficult to truly understand where the opportunities and challenges lie for the business as an entire entity.

Siloed teams and departments are unnecessary obstacles in the way of a holistic view of business performance. Managing your data so that it works across the business is no easy feat but this is where revenue performance management comes into play.

Historically, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems created for sales teams were built offering a ‘singular customer view’ – that is nothing further from the truth.

The CRM system is simply a salesperson’s belief of the prospect with built-in projections on the potential for the deal and untold amounts of intuition bias towards what they think they can sell to the customer. The data input element of CRM is vital but will always remain inherently obstructed by bias.

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TCMO Bureau: How can brands achieve their sales objectives in a distributed remote work environment?

Jamie Anderson: In today’s world of business, if brands think about objectives in the right way, it shouldn’t matter where their workforce is located. The hallmark of a successful sales team should focus on the salespeople within the team, not only the outcomes. The issue here is highlighted by a recent research report conducted by Xactly, where 58% of sales decision-makers said salespeople chose to depart their teams at higher rates than normal in the last 12 months.

There have and always will be different types of sellers; from personal sellers who often work to bring in bigger accounts but therefore have much longer sales cycles, to sellers who operate on smaller cycles but bring in a huge amount more deals. There is no one size fit for all to manage a sales team.

In a remote working environment, there is also nothing to say that your sales objectives and how you achieve them have to change. Of course, the previous methods of territory management and quota planning may shift, but the strategy should always be designed around the people in your sales team, not their location.

There is no doubt that it will have been difficult for sellers who traditionally operate in teams and in-person environments to adapt to the new world of selling, but culturally it’s about how the organization responds to that.

Customers and employees will always be the two most important elements of a business and its how brands can make both their lives the easiest. Empowering sales teams to thrive with the correct technology and tools at their disposal should be step number one.

TCMO Bureau: How can brands leverage a unique data set for making informed decisions?

Jamie Anderson: Rule number one is that brands need to understand the different types of data available to them. In the first instance, there lie two key data sets; structured data (CRM, ERP) and unstructured data (Intent, Context). The difference between these data types is usually unexplored, with many focusing on structured data that is often not only quantifiable but far easier to access.

Brands need to start thinking about revenue intelligence rather than just raw revenue. Combining both structured and unstructured data helps build a big picture, holistic view of the sales pipeline, drawing in insights from across the business to assess the health of the pipeline.

While structured data lies intangible outputs of the CRM or ERP systems, there is an untold value from unstructured data that isn’t so easy to categorize. For example, inputs from a marketing campaign will include interest in the content, how well the audience is engaging with the message, how far they are digging in further through clicks and purchase intent.

Pulling together performance data over long periods can help highlight the signs to look for when bottlenecks in the pipeline appear. As a business, if brands can conduct accurate forecasting, by using a platform to pull all their data together, then they can, in turn, design the incentives to drive the business toward the right outcomes.  

Also Read: Developing a Marketing Strategy to Navigate the Challenges of an Economic Downturn

TCMO Bureau: What trends do you think will transform sales performance management in the foreseeable future?

Jamie Anderson: As I mentioned earlier, the data market has been fragmented for years. Sales Performance Management (SPM) is essentially a category that has served its purpose; enhancing sales performance. What businesses are beginning to realize is that simply focusing on sales is an unhealthy mind-set and one that is required to be re-focused to look at revenue performance and the optimization of that as a whole.

Revenue Intelligence looks at the whole scope of where the revenue is, what’s driving it and how they manage it effectively. SPM was inherently about incentives and compensation for sales teams – now the conversation is about pipeline management, intelligent revenue, and using data to create a healthy long-term vision of revenue.

Having a revenue intelligence platform then takes that data-driven insight, alongside the seller’s insight, to play to its strengths, avoid weaknesses and drive the right level of incentivization as the final outcome.

It is now about turning revenue into smart, intelligent revenue. Businesses must continually assess whether everything is operational. The pandemic has given the marketing world an important lesson that this has to be a constant and agile process, whereas previously, optimization was a once-a-year job.

To achieve this, embedding holistic platforms that manage the data set as a whole will be key. Optimization is where staying agile and adaptable really show their benefits. Using future-gazing technology, built to see trends the human eye can’t see such as Artificial Intelligence, will be the goldmine for revenue forecasting and management.

Jamie Anderson is chief sales officer at Xactly, where he leads Xactly’s global efforts to grow sales, increase profitability and enhance operating efficiency for the world’s top sales organizations. He is a proven tech executive with a reputation for building and scaling global sales and go-to-market organizations. Prior to joining Xactly, Jamie held senior executive roles with Adobe, Marketo and SAP