Organizations generally perform a periodic assessment of their incentive plan design using several qualitative and quantitative metrics to ensure that plan is fair and continues to pay for performance. However, it is also important to review the overall quality of ongoing sales incentive operations to ensure that certain safety and hygiene essentials are in place for timely and accurate incentives.
At the strategic level, you need to ensure that an effective program governance framework (Safety Guidelines) is in place that takes into account various elements of successful operations:
- Comprehensive plan design documents that summarize a variety of business scenarios for salespeople and ensure complete transparency across all stakeholders.
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) that act as a “How-To-Guide” to run sales incentive operations at the desired frequency. This document should have all the required steps including quality checks, sign-offs, and approvals.
- Quality checklists/processes should enable the high accuracy of calculated sales incentives by incorporating manual and automated checks at the input as well as output level.
- Communication protocol to account for different touch points within the end-to-end processes regarding data discrepancies, quality issues, payout disputes, approvals, changes, etc.
- Compliance guidelines should be in place to audit process runs, changes, adjustments, approvals, etc.
Similarly, at the tactical level, there are additional essentials (Hygiene Factors) that should be put in place to improve the overall effectiveness of the administration of your sales incentive operations:
- Ingestion of as-is raw input files without any need to do manual data changes or transformations
- Input and output file movement should be automated to avoid wrong data processing
- Parameters should be in place to manage frequent changes and plan exceptions
- Detailed calculation reports should be in place for validations and dispute management
- Analytics and visualizations for quick decision making
- Plan modeling capabilities to do quick what-if analysis for desired plan changes
- Access to key plan health parameters to evaluate the quality of design on an ongoing basis.
Sales Incentive Operations are generally not given the importance they deserve. Some of these safety and hygiene elements may look trivial but play a significant role in the overall impact of the program and its ability to meet desired strategic business objectives. Actions on these essentials not only help in better alignment but can also help in improving the overall engagement of the sales force, optimizing the sales incentive operations. Improvements on these fronts can result in reduced operating expenses and increased net selling time which boosts top-line revenue.