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Sales Compensation Software: Enterprise Buyer’s Guide

The sales compensation software you choose can make or break your sales team’s performance. And with so many options, trying to settle on the right one for your organization can be overwhelming.

A well-designed compensation system motivates sales teams to achieve business goals and drives revenue growth. However, it comes with a ton of moving parts, making calculating and administering commissions a tricky and time-consuming task. That’s where choosing the right sales compensation software comes in.

By the end of this buyer’s guide, you’ll have the confidence to choose the ideal sales compensation software for your organization so you can finally craft the perfect incentive plan that boosts profits and automates commission management.

The Complete Guide to Sales Compensation in 2023

What Is Sales Compensation Software?

Sales compensation software enables you to design and manage your organization’s compensation plan efficiently. The platform streamlines all the tedious administrative tasks of compensation management, like building incentive plans or tracking and administering commissions. 

Several departments can benefit from integrating sales compensation software into their tech stacks, such as Sales Ops and Finance teams. Also, salespeople can easily keep track of their commissions and see their potential earnings.

How Sales Compensation Software Helps You Make Better Business Decisions

To make decisions that directly result in revenue, you need key insights into your organization’s performance, such as your sales team’s activity and productivity metrics.

Sales leaders can use the reporting capabilities within incentive management software to make better strategic decisions. This increased level of visibility gives you a real-time look at your sales team’s performance, helping you identify areas of your compensation plan that need improvement. In addition, executives use these insights to optimize their go-to-market strategy and increase revenue.

Why Is an Effective Compensation System So Crucial?

Your compensation plan can make or break your go-to-market strategy, so building one that empowers your sales team to reach their goals is vital. Here are some ways that an effective sales compensation strategy impacts organizations:

  • Boosts individual sales rep performance – The most effective incentive plans give salespeople a sense of purpose and direction—increasing overall productivity.
  • Aligns sales efforts with business objectives – Your sellers can focus on relevant targets like hitting quota, which contributes to your organization’s long-term strategic goals.
  • Attract and retain top sales talent – An incentive plan that shows your sales reps exactly how they get paid builds visibility and trust within your organization.

Benefits of Implementing Sales Compensation Software in Large Enterprises

Incentive plans are often complex at the enterprise level. Still, many large organizations still rely on spreadsheets or legacy ICM software to manage employee commissions (and are stuck with the limitations, too). 

Implementing sales compensation software puts you light years ahead of your competitors, who are still catching up.

Remaining agile is one of the main advantages of incentive management software. Tweaking a complex compensation plan the old way takes weeks and usually requires manually changing the basic formula of your compensation plan.

With user-friendly insights into your sales organization, you can now build and improve incentive plans that empower your salespeople to reach objectives—without complicated spreadsheets.

Most importantly, sales compensation software reduces incentive disputes to virtually zero by automating commission management. This lets salespeople spend more time closing leads and less time chasing down the finance team.

How Does Sales Compensation Software Impact Overall Sales Performance and Revenue?

Sales compensation has one primary goal: to boost team performance. A platform that allows you to design, test, and manage compensation plans takes away the  guesswork in rewarding your sales team.

Incentive compensation management software offers the agility you need to create comp plans that motivate sales reps and increase productivity. You can even tailor plans to each individual salesperson and provide them with an incentive plan that truly empowers them to hit business goals.

Enterprise businesses’ growth strategy is a constant balancing act, and a compensation plan that offers both visibility and transparency gives you a critical lever to strike that balance. When reps clearly understand how they get paid, they take ownership of their efforts, boosting overall team performance and revenue.

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The Top Sales Compensation Software Providers

Choosing the proper sales compensation software can put you years ahead in growth by freeing you from tedious, error-laden compensation management tasks like calculating commissions, administering payouts, and manually altering sales comp plans.

Here’s a look at the best incentive compensation management platforms for enterprises, SMBs, and micro-businesses:

Best Incentive Compensation Management Software for Large Enterprises

As your organization scales, your tech stack needs to meet ever-increasing demands, like the need for scalability and better data management. That’s why sales compensation vendors gear their products toward enterprise businesses, simplifying the process of managing and optimizing large sales teams’ sales compensation plans.

Here are three sales compensation solutions that suit large enterprises:

Forma.ai

Forma.ai built its platform to rescue a Fortune 500 company from a legacy ICM software implementation that ended in disaster.

Their AI-powered platform enables organizations to architect comp plans and completely automate the tedious administrative tasks that come with incentive management.

Forma.ai gives you the ability to simulate different compensation plan scenarios for your specific organization. That means you can make data-driven decisions when creating and tweaking your incentive plans—a feature only the leading commission management platforms offer.

Additionally, Forma.ai provides your sales team with intuitive dashboards that give reps the clarity and motivation needed to hit revenue targets. This transparency aligns your sales team’s efforts with your organization’s objectives.

Xactly

Xactly is a cloud-based incentive management software that helps you create and manage incentive plans. It automates incentive and bonus calculations, freeing up the time spent on payout administration.

Their platform also features an extensive suite of sales performance management tools. 

Varicent

Varcient‘s incentive compensation management automates manual processes such as data collection and tracking commissions. The program is flexible enough to build complex compensation plans, making it an enterprise-grade solution with sufficient scalability.

They’ve implemented AI-powered insights into their program, helping teams make better decisions that improve sales team performance.

Anaplan

Anaplan offers an incentive compensation management platform as part of its extensive collection of business solutions. It lets you easily create and optimize incentive plans, aligning them with your business’s long-term objectives and increasing revenue.

If your organization already uses Anaplan’s platform, their sales compensation solution may be the right option.

Oracle 

Oracle Incentive Management is an application in Oracle’s sales and sales application ecosystem.

This is an ideal solution for existing Oracle customers because you can calculate commissions based on existing data in their Oracle database. This helps you save time on the setup process. Compensation plans are run by calculations of SQL data, and experienced SQL coders should be able to integrate data not stored on Oracle.

SAP (Callidus)

Formerly known as CallidusCloud Commissions, this enterprise-grade sales compensation software was acquired by SAP.

It offers a high level of reconfigurability and allows organizations to manage complex incentive compensation plans.

Like Oracle, this can be an excellent option if your organization already uses the SAP ecosystem and if you have the internal resources to set up and manage their software.

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Best Sales Compensation Software Vendors for Small to Medium Businesses

Many sales compensation software vendors tailor their solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. Here are some of the most popular SMB incentive management solutions:

Spiff

For those who favor modern design, Spiff offers a user-friendly layout for sales and finance teams. Sales reps enjoy transparency in their commissions and performance with an intuitive dashboard—a critical factor in motivating salespeople.

Also, compensation professionals can reduce the time needed to build incentive plans with Spiff’s pre-built templates.

However, many users report a learning curve when building plans and a limitation in plan complexity, especially when using advanced logic like multi-layered rules.

CaptivateIQ

CaptivateIQ offers an automated approach to sales compensation for small and medium-sized businesses; their platform gives extensive flexibility in managing incentives.

Their compensation plan builder gives you a structured, step-based approach similar to Excel. CaptivateIQ’s user-friendly platform makes it an ideal option for smaller teams looking to transition from spreadsheets.

QuotaPath

QuotaPath positions itself as ‘the sales compensation software built by salespeople for salespeople.’

With QuotaPath, you can build compensation plans using ‘paths’ instead of classic formulas, hence the name. You can create complex incentive plans by creating multi-layered paths—a feature that reduces the learning curve for teams transitioning to sales compensation software.

Many users praise QuotaPathfor its ease of use and the transparency it brings to organizations.

Optymyze

Optymyze is a sales performance management solution that offers a no-code builder—a feature that makes it easy to create and adjust compensation plans. Their platform’s reporting capability gives you clear insights into your sales team, helping you design and optimize incentive plans.

However, some users report a complicated user experience and difficulties with the initial setup.

Performio

Performio‘s incentive compensation management allows you to design complex compensation plans, helping you improve key areas of your go-to-market strategy.

Their commission management platform automates payout administration; fewer manual tasks allow you to focus on optimizing comp plans, whether for an upcoming product launch or adapting to market shifts.

Everstage

Everstage offers a user-friendly sales commission platform for fast-growing companies that need visibility into their sales organization.

Their platform provides your sales team with a commission calculator and intuitive performance data and dashboards: motivating them and aligning their efforts with your business’s long-term goals.

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While most sales compensation software vendors strive to meet the more complex needs of SMBs and enterprise companies, smaller teams can still use traditional spreadsheets (and usually avoid the problems and limitations they pose for larger organizations).

Excel

Excel is still commonly used for commission management, even in enterprises and SMBs. However, it lacks automation and reporting capabilities, leaving you limited in designing complex sales compensation plans.

Tweaking and optimizing your sales compensation plan in Excel is also challenging because modifying one area alters the fundamental calculations of your entire sales compensation plan.

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Important Features to Consider When Selecting Sales Compensation Software

As an enterprise organization, your sales compensation software must offer the flexibility that complex incentive plans require.

Here are a few essential features to look for in sales compensation software:

1. Ensuring data compliance and auditability

The tech stacks that enterprises draw data from must pass specific requirements and compliance audits.

These include standard regulations such as CPPA or GDPR. Enterprise-scale incentive commission management software needs to meet these regulations to be used by large organizations.

2. On-premise vs. Cloud-based solutions

All software can be managed in two ways: on-premise or in the cloud.

The main difference between these two solutions is where the data is stored:

  • On-premise solutions are installed on your organization’s computers and servers (locally).
  • Cloud-based solutions are hosted on your software vendor’s servers and accessed via a web browser.

Cloud-based software has massively risen in popularity over the last few years because it offers many benefits over traditional on-premise solutions.

One of the main benefits of cloud-based software is the ability to access it from anywhere and anytime—making it available across an entire organization. In the case of sales compensation software, that means you’ll get real-time insights into the sales organization’s performance. Cloud-based solutions also offer high data security out of reach for most businesses, making your data safer in the cloud than on your own servers.

3. Integrations with sales productivity tools and data sources

Your sales compensation software must integrate with the tools in your existing tech stack.

Integrating sales compensation automation with all data sources improves data integrity—making your organization’s entire data stack more valuable. Clean data allows your team to track performance confidently, increasing motivation. 

Audit trails and compliance become straightforward when data integrity is on autopilot, giving you the peace of mind you need to focus on improving team performance.

4. Support and training for your sales compensation team

Support and training are especially important during the initial setup stage. These resources help sales compensation professionals design and implement compensation plans. Training this is essential for reducing the learning curve with new software.

Some enterprise-level solutions, such as Forma.ai, offer a streamlined ticket support system. Their team then implements any changes you wish to make to your incentive plans.

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How Much Does Sales Compensation Software Cost?

Organizations underestimate the actual cost of sales compensation software. As a buyer, always be aware of the extra costs that come with each solution.

The Three Costs of Sales Compensation Software

Besides the annual subscription fee, two additional costs come with implementing and using sales compensation software, especially at the enterprise level:

  • First, consider the initial implementation fees. These costs could include licensing fees, initial setup and onboarding, and any third-party support you require for integration.
  • Second, ownership costs. Most vendors provide annual prices as standard. As your enterprise grows, additional fees such as add-ons or access to premium customer support may incur.
  • Finally, poor planning during implementation often leads to hidden software fees. Things like inefficiency or missed opportunities increase these costs and can be challenging to quantify.

How to Calculate the Total Cost of Sales Compensation Software

To calculate the true cost of sales compensation software, start by asking for subscription fees and estimates from potential sales compensation software vendors. However, don’t solely rely on their answers, as these can often be misleading. Initial setup fees often turn out to be much higher than the original price due to insufficient foresight.

These additional setup costs usually result from underestimating the true complexity of the integration, where you have to consider areas like the complexity of your compensation plan, your data integration process, and the training programs needed to ensure successful adoption.

The most accurate way to determine the actual cost of owning sales comp software is to ask existing customers how their initial setup was. Ask where  they experienced any problems or setbacks.

How to Avoid Hidden Costs

Avoiding the hidden costs of incentive management software comes down to choosing the solution with the level of customization and configuration needed to support the complexity of your comp plan and avoid poor execution. This level of clarity is crucial for large enterprises, where efficiency and optimization significantly impact revenue.

Before choosing your sales compensation software vendor, align your team in a few key areas by asking these questions:

  • What level of flexibility do you need?
  • How complex does your compensation structure need to be?
  • What kind of compensation team do you want to build?

Working together to ensure alignment helps avoid common headaches during and after implementation.

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Sales Compensation Software Implementation: Tips for a Smooth Transition

Incentive compensation management becomes a revenue-generating tool only when you correctly implement the software. Here are some ways to ensure a smooth setup:

Common Challenges During Implementation

Setting a solid foundation is the most effective way to avoid issues while implementing sales compensation software. Preventing critical mistakes before setup is essential.

Here are two foundational steps before implementation:

  • Align your organization’s leaders and ensure everyone appreciates the need for agility. When adjusting your sales comp plan, your software must allow you to adapt and administer sales compensation quickly.
  • Define the desired outcome you want to achieve with your sales compensation plan and the current problems you wish to overcome. You can improve your organization’s commission processes by determining what result you want to achieve.

Agility is crucial for enterprise companies that employ complex incentive plans that use hierarchies, product lines, and splits.

How to Ensure Successful Implementation

Successful implementation, again, comes down to asking the right questions, and knowing your organization’s needs.

Most sales compensation software vendors will help set up your compensation plan’s logic for the first year. However, you’ll have to periodically adjust your plan to optimize it.

Ask potential vendors to demonstrate the steps needed to adjust your comp plan’s logic or introduce one-time bonuses. This level of transparency helps you to avoid investing in a solution that doesn’t have the functionality needed to meet your needs.

By understanding your software’s capabilities beforehand, you can ensure that it aligns with your organization’s objectives and requirements, which sets the foundation for the implementation process.

Additionally, poor data management can result in setbacks, lost opportunities, and increased costs. You must import reliable, real-time data to implement your end-to-end sales compensation software successfully.

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Your Decision

The sales compensation software you choose can make or break your sales team’s performance.

Incentive plans motivate sales teams to achieve their targets and increase revenue. Although calculating and administering commissions can be difficult and time-consuming, sales compensation software helps automate commission management.

Sales compensation tools, like Forma.ai, increase profits by streamlining your sales commission processes with real-time compensation plan management, creating a payout experience that attracts top sales talent and drives team performance.

Are you ready to unlock the science of human motivation to deliver truly unbeatable incentive compensation programs? Find out how Forma.ai can help!

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