A few years back I was interviewing for a Sales role. During the interview I was asked, “Why are you in Sales?” My answer. “The money”
To me, the only reason why you should be in Sales is for the money. But it’s not the money itself, it’s what the money means. The WHY behind the money. Maybe you are paying off debt. Buying a new home for your family. Saving for your child’s education. The WHY is what drives us in Sales.
For me it’s my family. Everything I do is for them. So when I rely on my commission cheque to provide for my family, it better be accurate and on time.
The pressure for Finance & Accounting, knowing this is all at stake, is high. And not having a sales commissions tool only further increases the stress. Ensuring not only the data (aka money) is accurate, but also on time.
Whether IT or Finance is driving this decision…The best advice I can give companies looking for a tool is to consider who it affects.
When analyzing a tool to calculate sales commissions are you thinking about it in perspective of the people who will actually use it? Commissions software should do more than just streamline the process of calculating payouts and ensuring data accuracy and integrity. It should also allow your Sales Team the ability to leverage historical data to improve sales results.
But how do we get there…
Start at the beginning. In order to truly understand what your organization needs you must first understand what you currently have.
Evaluate Your Current Process
What systems are you currently using to complete this process? Most companies I speak with are typically calculating sales commissions manually in spreadsheets. Meaning, they are manually pulling data from multiple systems such as; GL/ERP, CRM, Payroll and HRIS. Think about what data you need from these systems? How you are pulling the data? Who is pulling the data? How many different departments are involved?
Make a list of every system and every person/department involved in calculating commissions. Note the areas that are causing the biggest bottlenecks. Chances are this is a very complicated process with many people involved. So make sure you know where a new commission tool will help.
At the bare minimum a commissions tool should be able to connect to multiple data sources. The connection should be automated.
Once you’ve mapped out your current process, think about your sales compensation structure across multiple team members How do you maintain and update your plans? How complicated is it? How many tiers are there? Are there splits? What happens when you hire a new Sales employee?
Again - I’m sure this is very involved process. With many people involved. Communication is needed to execute this properly. Maintaining the plans throughout the year is one of the largest challenges for organizations. Make sure your new system is easy to update, maintain, and coordinate with multiple departments if needed.
Now that you’ve mapped out your process and understand the areas to streamline… talk to Sales. Go find out what information would help them do their job better. What will help them drive more revenue for the organization. What would they want to see in a system, as a user?
Remember, a commissions tool should always streamline your process, and create efficiencies allowing Finance & Accounting more time to focus on high value items. But a tool should also help drive business.