Automating sales compensation is a big deal. Whether you’re transitioning from a manual commission management process or a spreadsheet-based legacy system, there are a lot of time and resources on the line.
But, you already know the payoff of automation– efficiency, visibility, and accuracy baked right into your sales engine. What you’re probably less clear on is the timing. When should your organization pull the trigger and commit to commission automation?
Unfortunately, a common misconception we see is the idea that an organization has to be ready for automation. Most organizations hold the belief that their data must be clean and accurate. Their commission plans must be perfectly constructed and finalized. And, they must have a dedicated resource to handle the process.
This line of thinking, while understandable, is harmful and misguided. The problem with this approach is that it assumes automated comp processes require a faultless set of conditions— like a high maintenance houseplant that will wither and die without precisely the right temperature, humidity levels, and sunlight.
It’s true that manual sales compensation processes will falter from even the smallest environmental disturbances. But their automated counterparts were designed for agility and adaptability— even if you haven’t yet figured out your ERP, or your commission data is still a disaster.
The fact is, if you’re considering automated sales comp, you’re probably way more ready than you realize. Here are four reasons why:
Waiting on your CRM or ERP will cause more issues down the line.
One of the biggest barriers to a fully automated sales engine is other systems competing for your attention. Working through issues with your CRM or ERP can make it tempting to put your commission process on the back burner.
Waiting on your CRM and ERP can create more work down the road. When it comes time to automate commission management you’ll need to revisit both systems.
“Automating sales comp is a relatively low lift, and can actually help inform other business processes you’re implementing,” says Max Sadler, Senior Solutions Architect at Spiff. “When you’re trying to solve a CRM or ERP, you don’t know what you don’t know. Automating your sales comp will help give you some key insights into how you should run other parts of your business, to make sure your commission software can function properly and pay people correctly.”
It’s critical to think holistically about your CRM, ERP, and commission process. “When you’re working in parallel, your systems will be in alignment the entire time,” says Scott DeHerrera, Director of Expert Services at Spiff.
This is especially true of your CRM. “Without a crystal ball, you don’t know what the end state of your CRM needs to be,” says DeHerrera. “Automating your comp processes first can help guide your CRM, so you don’t end up with more on the table than you really need.”
“There’s no better way to enforce data entry quality than by linking that practice to someone’s comp,” says Sadler. Since truly automated comp solutions leverage live integrations and connectors to pull in real-time CRM data, reps won’t get paid if data is inaccurate.
You don’t have to automate all your comp plans at once.
Another faulty assumption is that automation has to happen all at once, leading teams to postpone their transition until the next comp planning cycle.
“It’s too late to wait until the next time you’re planning compensation. You want a seamless transition,” says Sadler. “Additionally, you start now, you’ll have a chance to run the two in parallel, just to give full confidence that everything is accurate.”
It’s also important to remember that comp automation isn’t all or nothing— you can transition in stages. Start with plans that haven’t yet been rolled out, or are causing you the most problems. “If one plan is fine, continue to operate it manually for now,” says Sadler. “If another plan is a big pain, tackle that first, even if it’s already been implemented.”
Manual comp management requires more resources than automation.
It’s easy to feel trapped when you’re looking to move from a manual comp process to an automated one.
You don’t have time to implement an automated comp solution, because you’re spending so much time maintaining a manual commission cycle. But the reason you’re stuck with a manual process in the first place is because you haven’t yet switched to an automated alternative.
So what are you supposed to do?
The thing is, not all commission management software is created equal. Your trepidation is valid if we’re talking about an older or more complex legacy system, since those can take a notoriously long time to implement. But modern low code or no code platforms are actually a lot faster.
Besides, if you already have a team in place that’s doing everything manually, then you have enough resources to move to an automated system.
The right vendor will serve as a partner through digital transformation.
Only one thing in sales is guaranteed– and that’s change. Your plans will change, your sales team will change, your formulas and commission spreadsheets will change. This fact alone makes it clear that no one is truly ready to automate their manual commission process. The cold hard truth is that conditions will never be perfect.
That leaves organizations with two choices. The first option is to stick with manual processes and endure hours spent tracking down formulas and constantly starting from scratch any time an error or change occurs. In this scenario, sales commission is solely your responsibility and there’s no one to call if you encounter issues.
In the second scenario- you automate sales commission and partner with a trusted vendor. This vendor serves as a partner throughout implementation, onboarding, and for the remainder of your contract. Change still occurs but you’re no longer the only one responsible for getting your reps paid. In this scenario there’s someone to call and lean on if something breaks or changes.
With a partner or vendor, your team is required to do less and your vendor shoulders more of the burden. Change also becomes easier to facilitate because an automated system is innately more flexible than a manual process. An automated commission process is an agile commission process.
The right time to automate sales comp is now.
Change is inevitable, regardless of whether you feel ready to automate your sales comp. Your organization, sales team, even your comp plans won’t look the same this time next year— or maybe even next quarter.
The time is going to pass anyway, and the longer you wait to automate your sales comp, the harder it will be to do so. It’s a compounding problem— every day using a manual process results in disconnected data, causes more frustration, and wastes even more time.
The right vendor won’t just help you implement automation, but facilitate digital transformation across your entire sales ops ecosystem. All you need to do is get started.
Spiff is a new class of commission software that improves trust across organizations by automating commission calculations and motivating teams to drive top-line growth. With an intuitive UI, real-time visibility, and seamless integrations with the systems you already use, Spiff is the first choice among high-growth businesses.