All organizations, regardless of location, industry, or sector, have one thing in common. They rely on technology to stay in business. For smaller businesses, this might be a few core platforms or systems. For larger organizations, this number multiplies exponentially.
For the most part, the goal of these tools is to increase productivity in some way, shape, or form. They automate, process, expedite, organize, integrate, motivate, and more. But, what happens when your core business management software makes your life harder?
Today, we’re exploring a few ideas:
- The evolution of commission tracking software.
- The idea of true automation.
- And, how to identify when your tech is working against you.
The Evolution of the Telephone
Allow me to paint a picture for you using the evolution of the telephone as an example. In my lifetime, the first version of the telephone was the house phone. It was stationary, connected to the wall with a cord.
After that, the house phone became cordless and you could take phone calls from anywhere in the house.
Next came the very first cell phones. Remember when everyone had that same old, clunky Nokia? You know, the one that had the game “snake” on it and was impossible to break? During this era, texting was a foreign concept and camera phones weren’t yet invented.
A few years later came the rise of flip phones. Cue flashbacks of Paris Hilton’s pink Motorola Razr. These early flip phones were responsible for popularizing the use of text messaging. Except texting a friend wasn’t quite as simple as it is today. To send a single text, we used a function called t9 text.
For the younger readers, t9 text was a system where three to four letters all shared a single key. So to text the letter C, you had to click the #1 key three times to cycle through A and then B and then C. Efficient right? You may laugh, but at the time, t9 text was cutting-edge technology.
At some point, t9 text disappeared and new cell phones came equipped with full keyboards.
Although each version of the cell phone was an improvement upon the last, they were all still cell phones. That is until the launch of the smartphone.
The smartphone equipped everyone with a powerful, pocket-sized computer. With the invention of the smartphone, the world as we knew it fundamentally changed.
Need directions? Pull out your smartphone. Need to Google something? Smartphone. Can’t find your friends in a crowded place? Smartphone. Today, there’s very little a smartphone can’t do.
The Evolution of Commission Management Solutions
Like the telephone, commission management solutions have undergone a similar transformation.
Long before Excel spreadsheets and computers, we tracked commission pay through manual bookkeeping. In this comparison, think of pen and paper bookkeeping like the house phone. They both serve a purpose but there are many limitations that come with each. Manual bookkeeping is prone to human error, miscalculations, misplaced information, and more.
Once computers became commonplace and Excel spreadsheets were born, commission management changed.
From there, we saw the first-ever commission management solutions start popping up. These tools promised to track, manage, and report on commission pay. They appeared to be a huge game-changer in the world of commission calculation.
In hindsight, it’s clear flip phones and these early commission platforms have one thing in common. In the same way we realized flip phones were a sleek repackaging of the same technology used by older cell phone models, most commission platforms are simply spreadsheets, repackaged and polished.
These platforms promise to transform commission management. And, yet they still rely on manual inputs, they don’t update in real-time, and are a nightmare to scale and change.
So, this extended metaphor leads us to one question. Where is the smartphone of commission management? Simply put, the answer is automation.
Defining Automation When it Comes to Commission Management Solutions
Here’s where things get tricky. Most commission tools pretend to be automation when in reality, they’re glorified spreadsheets. They don’t actually automate much of anything. They use the same formulas, manual inputs, and tedious grunt work that spreadsheets require.
And, on top of that, they’re almost never self-service and need the help of an account manager to make simple changes. Ask yourself this: Is it really automation if you have to wait weeks to see the output of changes to your sales teams or commission structures?
So, before we jump into the benefits of true commission automation, let’s define exactly what we mean. To be genuine automation, software should do these five things:
- Increase productivity. Does the software save you time or make a critical process easier?
- Improve transparency. Does the software provide widespread access to data and reporting? Is it easy for key stakeholders to find and understand the information that’s important to them?
- Boost performance. Is your business seeing results because of the software? Is your business seeing results as a secondary benefit of the software?
- Simplify critical processes. Is the software easy to use? Does it integrate with other systems? Does your team want to use it?
- Build trust. Is the software reliable? Do you trust the reports and data generated by the software?
If a tool or piece of software doesn’t do these five things, ask yourself, is it helping you work smarter? Or, is it simply making you work harder?
Not sure? Here are six tell-tale signs your commission management solution is working against you:
Your sales team spends more time tracking commissions than they spend selling.
Did you know the average sales rep spends only one-third of their time actually selling? They spend the rest of their time, 66% of it, on administrative tasks and other non-selling activities (source).
Working with an unreliable commission management system means your reps are wasting time. Whether triple-checking their paychecks or chasing down errors, inefficient commission processes are a time-suck.
With the right tool, your reps can actually get time back in their day to do what they do best, selling!
Your finance team spends unnecessary time rectifying commission errors.
On the other side of the coin is the finance team. Commission management and payroll are only a fraction of what they’re meant to be doing on a daily basis. A team that spends more time hunting down commission errors than anything else, is wasting time.
The right commission management solution prevents these errors from the beginning. But, if errors do occur, tools like Spiff allow for complete traceability. So if something looks off, your finance team can identify where and why the error occurred in a few clicks. Then, they can fix it and rest assured it won’t happen again next month.
Your sales leaders field an inordinate number of questions each day.
Questions are normal, especially when rolling out new systems or onboarding new employees. But, if your sales leaders see the same questions again and again, your system is failing you.
Where do I go to find my statements? How much more do I need to close to reach a certain sales accelerator? Why is my paycheck this amount when I expected to earn this amount? Questions like these, especially from seasoned reps, indicate a transparency problem. Your team doesn’t have the information they need. Or, your system doesn’t communicate that information in an understandable fashion. As a result, the humans on your team have to step in and fill in the gaps where your so-called automation is failing.
True commission automation means your team knows how to find what they’re looking for and where to find it. And, allows them to do so in less than a minute or two.
You’re struggling to hit your sales numbers and revenue targets as an organization.
You’ve implemented all the right training programs. You’ve structured your teams perfectly. Enablement has never been stronger. And yet, you’re still somehow missing your revenue targets. Of course, any number of shortcomings can lead to this. But, if you’re struggling to pinpoint the cause, there’s a good chance it’s your commission management software.
It might be, the lack of transparency is translating to a lack of motivation. How can your team hit targets when there’s no clear way to see where they stand in relation to those targets?
Or, it might mean your team is wasting too much time keeping track of their own commissions.
Or, your team could be feeling disenchanted with sales after another miscalculated paycheck.
Or, maybe, it’s all the above.
With the right commission management solution, you can motivate your reps. You can keep them happy, and productive. Thus, making them more likely to hit their targets and as a result, more likely to hit your revenue goals.
Commission management is a headache, no matter who you ask.
Finance dreads payday. They don’t want to deal with a barrage of unhappy reps who, once again, feel like they’re not being paid what they’re owed. Sales leadership dreads making structural changes to commission plans because they’re a hassle to implement. Your reps hate commissions because your systems are unreliable or confusing.
If no one in your organization has a positive thing to say about commissions, there’s a good chance you’re not using the right tool.
The right tool makes commission management easier, not harder. Whether restructuring your commission system, revamping your sales organization, or reporting on an individual rep’s pay, commissions shouldn’t be a headache
Individual members of your sales team have their own systems for tracking commissions to make sure they’re paid the right amount.
If each of your reps has their own commission spreadsheet where they meticulously track their closed deals and their commission percentages, that means whatever tool you’re using for commission management isn’t reliable or accessible.
This means, your reps have been burned too many times with inaccuracies or errors, or they simply want to see what they’ll be paid before it hits their bank account. Both issues can be easily solved with the right commission management solution.
Commission Management Solutions
Now that we’ve helped you identify what bad looks like, let us show you what great automation can do for you.
Spiff is a leading sales compensation platform that automates commission calculations and motivates teams to drive top-line growth. With a combination of intuitive UI, real-time visibility, and seamless integrations into current systems, Spiff is the first choice among high-growth businesses.