Sales Performance Management Ultimate Guide [2023 Data]
In today’s competitive business environment, Sales Performance Management (SPM) is not just an option; it’s a necessity. Sales performance management, a data-driven approach to managing and enhancing your sales team’s performance, offers a framework for transforming leads into sales and optimizing compensation plans.
Using SPM to analyze and improve your sales team’s performance creates massive value for your team and your organization. With so many companies investing in it in recent years, and many soon to come, the market size for sales performance management is growing fast. In 2023, it is estimated to be $6.58 billion by the Business Research Company, up from $5.64 billion in 2022. By 2028, it’s projected to expand to around $10.3 billion according to IMARC Group.
So, what is SPM, why is it worth investing in, and how can you start to implement it? Learn all that and more in this Ultimate Guide to Sales Performance Management.
Table of contents
- What is Sales Performance Management (SPM)?
- Why is Sales Performance Management Important?
- The Components of a Sales Performance Management Strategy
- The Benefits of Sales Performance Management Software
- Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) vs. Sales Performance Management (SPM)
- What to Look for in Sales Performance Management Software
What is Sales Performance Management (SPM)?
Sales Performance Management is the data-driven approach to guiding sales professionals to achieve organizational objectives by providing a framework for success, helping to convert leads into sales, and optimizing compensation management.
Over the last two decades, Sales Performance Management has evolved into a disciplined approach through the use of various tools and strategies.
Modern sales performance management involves training, developing, and monitoring individual sales reps and practices to ensure that employee behavior is aligned with business objectives. This can be achieved through performance reviews, skill development workshops, mentoring, sales performance intelligence tools, and qualitative feedback.
Why is Sales Performance Management Important?
Sales performance management (SPM) is critical as it ensures a better sales pipeline, improves forecasting, reduces turnover, and enhances sales rep performance.
Here are a few reasons why your sales organization needs to implement an SPM strategy:
• It builds a better sales pipeline – With the right strategy in place, you will have the framework needed to convert more leads into sales.
• It improves sales forecasting – A sales performance management system can provide valuable analytics, allowing your organization to predict future numbers better.
• It reduces turnover – The correct strategy aligned with the right incentive opportunities will better engage your sales team and increase retention.
• It improves sales rep performance – A performance management strategy keeps your sales reps motivated, helping them drive more revenue for the company.
• It makes compensation management easier – With an SPM system, your organization can better design, execute, and optimize your variable compensation plan.
To reap all the benefits of SPM, make sure to consider various components in your SPM strategy.
The Components of a Sales Performance Management Strategy
There are several components that make up every sales performance management strategy. How sales leaders approach each of these will define their plan for success in the market. Let’s take a closer look at the components of SPM.
1. Sales Planning
This is the foundation of any effective SPM strategy. It involves the strategic division of the market, team alignment, territory allocation, account segmentation, capacity planning, and quota setting.
Effective sales planning requires a solid understanding of historical sales data and the flexibility to adapt strategies to changes in the workforce or marketplace. This component ensures that sales efforts are aligned with broader business objectives and market opportunities.
When assigning quotas and territories, be sure to analyze past performance and market trends to identify high-potential areas and allocate resources more effectively.
2. Sales Incentives
Incentive programs are critical for motivating sales teams and driving desired behaviors. They typically include commission structures designed to align the interests of salespeople with those of the company.
Effective sales incentives not only maximize the earnings of sales reps but also advance the company’s strategic goals. That’s why 90% of the top-performing companies globally use incentive programs to reward their sales associates.
The integration of these incentives into sales compensation plans is a vital aspect of SPM, as it directly influences sales performance and motivation. Here is a step-by-step guide with examples of creating effective sales compensation plans.
3. Sales Intelligence
Sales intelligence, or sales performance intelligence, focuses on understanding the metrics and trends within the sales cycle to identify areas to optimize or expand. It enables sales leaders to make data-driven decisions based on sales performance, providing insights into the sales cycle, customer behavior, market trends, and the effectiveness of sales strategies.The best sales leaders have one thing in common: They excel at data-driven sales performance management. #sales #spm Click To Tweet
This area of SPM has experienced the most development in recent years, as advances in software and AI have allowed sales leaders to gather and understand data from throughout the organization in far more detail than ever before.
To fully leverage your sales intelligence, invest in an SPM software, which has more advanced analytics and AI tools than a manual approach.
Best Practices to Implement Sales Performance Management
Sales performance management is more than ensuring your team meets its goals and objectives. It requires a holistic approach incorporating several best practices to build a system that works for you.
Let’s look at six best practices for implementing your sales performance management strategy.
1. Data-Driven Strategy
The marketplace is constantly evolving. Make strategic decisions based on data rather than gut feel, rigid frameworks, and competitor benchmarking.
2. Determine Clear Sales Goals & Expectations
Sales performance management requires effective communication from the sales leader about both individual expectations and group goals. Sales compensation dashboards are one way to provide this. Here’s our framework for creating a motivating sales comp dashboard.
3. Motivate the Sales Team
It’s critical to motivate your sales team toward the desired behaviors with an effective incentive program. Organizations with best-in-class sales compensation plans have more engaged and productive sales teams that produce better results and lower turnover. Are you motivating the right behaviors? Here are 5 Tips to Optimize Your Sales Compensation Plan.
4. Prioritize the Sales Process
Ensure you have a systematic approach to your sales process, such that each pipeline stage is given attention, including prospecting, lead generation, nurturing, and closing deals. For each rep, consider how many new leads they earn, their upsell and cross-sell rates, their sales cycle length, or their client acquisition rates.
Tip: The best way to do this is by building data models that allow you to identify better opportunities in the pipeline, customers that could be upsold, and even how many reps to commit to a new market when scaling.
5. Ask for Feedback
Clear and effective communication is the foundation of any good business process. The best sales performance management strategy incorporates both quantitative data and qualitative input from your sales team. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of management by objectives.
Developing a winning culture starts with understanding your people’s “why,” earning their trust and being transparent about your path and need for change. People will get in the boat with you when they feel included, and their feedback and input are heard. When they are part of the change, the likelihood they are bought in increases exponentially.Carson V. Heady, Author of Salesman on Fire.
6. Automate as many low-value tasks as possible
According to Gartner research, sales managers spend twice as much time on reporting as desired by leadership, and 58% of sales managers say they have difficulty completing their work tasks in the given time.
SPM software allows you to automate more tedious tasks and integrate your sales processes with valuable data to improve performance and efficiency in your organization.
The Benefits of Sales Performance Management Software
With accurate historical metrics and an AI-driven SPM platform, you can optimize the performance of your sales team at every step. SPM tools can help you incentivize your reps toward the right behaviors that drive revenue, accurately pay reps based on results, and track those results over time.
Here are some of the key benefits of sales performance management software:
1. Build a quality pipeline
Pipeline metrics give you a visual overview of how close opportunities are to closing. You’ll see which sales activities yield the best results and where deals are stalling.
2. Improve sales forecasting
For more insights on growth strategies for sales and RevOps teams, read “3 Ways RevOps Teams Can Drive Growth – Lessons from ZoomInfo & HubSpot.”
3. Increase retention and motivation by providing better incentives
SPM software allows you to gauge rep performance, provide better incentives, and reward reps appropriately. Providing teams with a robust sales compensation plan and real-time transparency motivates them to go above and beyond their quotas.
For a comprehensive guide to selecting sales compensation software, refer to our Sales Compensation Software: Enterprise Buyer’s Guide.
4. Provide better visibility into sales performance
When you can see how far a rep is from quota attainment, you can intervene and course correct or encourage them to keep the momentum up.
5. Make incentive compensation more efficient and effective
Between accurate historical metrics and predictive analytics, you can design, execute, and optimize the best variable compensation plan possible.
Learn more about a future-focused take on sales compensation in our detailed article “Sales Comp 2.0: The Future of Sales Compensation.”
Outperformers make data and analytics a strategic asset and invest heavily in building foundational skills. The results: 72 percent of the fastest-growing B2Bs say their analytics are effective in helping them with sales planning, compared to 50 percent of the slowest-growers.McKinsey & Company
Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) vs. Sales Performance Management (SPM)
Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) and Sales Performance Management (SPM) are often used interchangeably since both are concerned with aligning sales rep behavior with business goals. However, there is a significant difference between the two.
Sales Performance Management is an umbrella term for any management of the sales process and team. That means day-to-day hiring, training, and development of the sales team, sales ops, sales performance intelligence and analytics, and sales comp planning and management. Several SPM software solutions have tacked-on functionality that allows for calculating and communicating ICM.
Incentive compensation is a subset of SPM that focuses on the reporting and administration of incentive compensation, which usually focuses on sales compensation, but could also include compensation for other teams like Customer Success. ICM solutions primarily deal with the operational aspects of calculating sales representatives’ pay, including commission calculations and crediting rules. These solutions occasionally include quota setting and territory planning functionality as well.
All ICM solutions are a specific type of SPM solution. But not all SPM software can do Incentive Compensation Management.
What to Look for in Sales Performance Management Software
Selecting the right SPM software is crucial for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales team. When choosing between sales performance management tools, look for these key features and capabilities:
Comprehensive Performance Analytics
The core of any SPM software is its ability to track and analyze sales performance. So how, specifically, can you measure sales performance? Make sure your SPM solution provides insights into these key performance metrics:
- Sales Productivity:
- Meetings held / demos booked
- Sales cycle duration
- Time to productivity
- Lead Response Time
- Average Deal Size
- Win Rate and its contributing factors:
- Lead volume
- Seasonality (Timing)
- Quota Attainment
Measuring performance on your SPM software with real-time data visualization is essential for quick and informed decision-making.
Robust Forecasting Tools
Getting your sales forecasts right is crucial for strategic planning. Opt for software that comes with advanced predictive analytics. It should be able to take in various data points and produce forecasts you can count on, helping you set realistic goals and align your sales approach with current market trends.
Incentive Compensation Management
Motivation is key in sales. Ensure the software includes a comprehensive incentive compensation management system. It should be capable of handling complex commission structures, bonus schemes, and other reward programs, automating calculations, and reducing payout errors.
Any SPM software you’re considering should seamlessly integrate with your existing CRM, ERP, and other business systems. Seamless integration means you get a complete picture of customer interactions and sales processes, boosting efficiency and minimizing data silos.
User-Friendly Interface and Accessibility
Ease of use is huge – you want a user-friendly interface that your team can navigate without a headache. Cloud-based solutions offer the added benefit of accessibility from anywhere, a helpful plus for remote or field sales teams.
Customization and Scalability
One size doesn’t fit all. Your next SPM solution should be customizable to fit your business’s unique needs and grow right alongside your company.
Training and Support
Getting up to speed with the software is crucial. Look for vendors who don’t just hand over the software but also offer thorough training and are there when you need support.
Compliance and Security
Last but not least, make sure the software complies with data protection regulations and has security measures that safeguard sensitive sales data.
By keeping these key features in mind, you’re on your way to selecting an SPM solution that not only ramps up your sales performance but also aligns perfectly with your long-term business objectives, paving the way for a smooth and successful sales operation.
Optimize Your Sales Strategy with Sales Performance Management
Think of SPM as how you optimize your sales team’s efforts by blending strategic planning, solid incentives, and insightful data. Ideally, this would be powered by software that’s easy to use and aligns seamlessly with your business goals, providing a clear view of your sales performance, accurate forecasting, and an interface that doesn’t require a tech specialist to understand.
Now that you know the basics of SPM, keep in mind that mastering SPM is a gradual process and any SPM strategy must be constantly refined. Effective SPM is about fostering a culture where your sales team feels motivated and valued, and you see a real impact on your sales figures. It’s about creating an environment where growth and success are part of the daily rhythm.
And that’s where Forma.ai comes in. We’re here to help simplify and enhance your SPM journey by optimizing your incentive compensation management. Reach out to us to make sales performance management more effective by optimizing every dollar spent on sales comp.