There is only so much one can achieve in a 40 hour week. Deadlines, critical projects and an increasing list of priorities make it difficult for individuals and teams to complete planned activities. Effecting changes add additional complexity to the existing challenges and the lack of processes and agility in incumbent solutions can lead to stakeholders shying away from making changes even though the business demands it.
Change Management inherently involves implementing processes, workflows, automating manual tasks, reporting and integrating disparate elements within the impacted ecosystem. Almost 70% of change initiatives fail and less than 1/3rd achieve clear success. The high rates of failure can be attributed to stakeholder resistance. If a handful of stakeholders resist, there is an issue with them; however, if the broader organization shows resistance, it may be a result of painful past experiences from the inflexibility of systems to adapt well to change. Change management failures also result in the introduction of parallel tools to implement the same process that usually prove to be a major overhead for these stakeholders and the organization in general.
However, the current situation has practically proved that “change is the only constant” in today’s world. We are going through a period of constant change and almost all organizations are experiencing the need of revamping their IC ecosystem as it directly impacts the behavior of their salesforce. While this need is inevitable, changing unfriendly systems can not only lead to stakeholder resentment but may also result in reduced productivity and high turnover.
Incentive plan design and associated elements in its realm, like accelerators, compelling payout curves, quotas, territory alignments, and contests, still remain the most important aspect to create an immediate positive impact on sales reps behaviour. However, the big question is how do we accomplish this change. Consider the below steps while working through a change in your IC ecosystem:
Identify what needs to change
Organizations can be too rigid or too fluid. They may extrapolate current situations too much into the future, anticipate needs and revise their plans to avoid changes later. This approach can also be attributed to the pain associated with making changes to incumbent solutions. At the other end of the spectrum, organizations start changes late, do not read the situation in its entirety and make half-baked changes. This results in a demotivated salesforce which warrants the need for further updates to the plan and IC solution. Instead, organizations should follow an iterative process and answer a series of questions ranging from
– need for changes to the existing set of metrics
– introduction of newer metrics
– field challenges to achieve them
– operational challenges to collate, compute and report them
– exception handling in the overall process and impact on other systems.
Communicate the change
Another problem organizations face their inability to communicate changes and their impact reliably with sales/finance/hr leadership before putting them in effect. The key to success is achieving these stakeholders’ buy-in quickly and efficiently. If your IC solution is capable of modelling and simulating the changes efficiently and reporting the impact of these changes to the stakeholders, the resistance to change can be broken down. This also helps sales leadership communicate to the field and mentor as to how the change will impact their inline reps and managers.
Build self-sufficient parameter driven system
With the introduction of newer metrics & evolving selling models, the ability to swiftly adapt to constant changes easily is a key requirement of any incentive compensation solution. Traditional solutions struggle with this aspect due to their custom code nature that can only be modified by their in-house teams. Dependency on vendors, availability of their resources and complex resourcing arrangements prove to be a bane resulting in slower timelines and costlier changes. A parameter-driven no-code solution would significantly reduce the time to make changes and removes technical resource requirements, and siloed implementation knowledge and would truly prove to be effective change management. Armed with intuitive interfaces to update parameters, audit tracking to identify change personnel and configuration-driven rules to expedite changes allowing organizations to maintain implementation integrity.
Automate key processes using out-of-the-box solutions
As organizations evolve, so do IC plans. This, in turn leads to the introduction of several manual processes reducing the solution to be a mere IC calculation engine. Organizations usually introduce manual processes to avoid making changes to the IC solution since traditionally, it has been a very tedious task. This increases the risk of inaccurate and delayed IC processing and makes it a labor-intensive process over time. Ideally, every time something changes in the IC plan or any related processes that impact IC, change management should kick in to account for how those processes can be mapped out and can be automated. Traditional systems fail at it and as a result, over time, IC stakeholders become more reluctant to effect change management in their systems. New age solutions with out-of-the-box, no-code automation features, however inculcate trust in stakeholders and embolden them to automate manual tasks as they are introduced into the process. This expedites the overall sales compensation process and also realigns human effort to more value-added activities like sales force effectiveness and performance analytics.
An incentive compensation plan is key to an engaged and motivated salesforce. However, it needs to be aligned with organizational objectives and at the same time it needs to be compelling enough to positively influence sales reps behaviour and in turn performance. This needs to start from the top and trickle down the hierarchy through a streamlined and well-thought-out process, ensuring your salesforce understands the impact. However, an incentive plan will only be effective on paper unless it is backed with an agile and out of the box solution that helps your commercial excellence/sales operations team. Such a solution becomes an effective partner to the sales operations team since it can adapt rapidly to ever-changing needs and automate new processes that are introduced over time.