By Daniel Hunter

OpenSymmetry, a global sales performance management (SPM) consulting firm, have announced the results of its 2013 Sales Performance and Technology Survey.

The research reveals the need for greater accuracy and speed in sales compensation administration, as well as the need to maximise technology investments through improved data quality, reporting, analytics and the vendor selection process.

The annual survey received responses from participants in a range of industries about the processes, approaches and technologies they use to design and administer incentive compensation programmes.

Across all of the areas surveyed — plan design, programme administration, technology, reporting and analytics, and technology investments — organisations expressed the desire to develop formal, repeatable and well-documented processes.

However, despite the need for increased process automation and accuracy, Microsoft Excel remains the tool of choice in many areas, such as compensation management (72.7 percent), annual planning (80.8 percent), sales compensation reporting (72.3 percent), and sales compensation analytics (84 percent).

The biggest challenges discovered in administering sales compensation plans are frequent manual adjustments; a high degree of complexity of the sales compensation program; poor data quality; and inflexible technology. Nearly a quarter (23.8 percent) of respondents said they could not calculate the ROI for their technology solutions, and indicated the need to clearly define business requirements before choosing a software vendor. Other key findings include:

· Reporting and analytics: A large percentage of companies (39.4 percent) are providing one to two reports to each plan participant. Reports are usually provided on a monthly or quarterly basis. The challenge in providing timely performance reports is primarily caused by the time to generate reports and data quality issues.

· New technology investments: More than 25 percent of respondents reported that they had not invested in a sales compensation infrastructure in the past 24 months.

· Programme administration: Only 18.5 percent of respondents reported accuracy over 99 percent, and only 53.4 percent reported accuracy between 95 and 99 percent. Respondents who measure the effectiveness of the sales compensation administration process are gauging their effectiveness based on incentive payouts to budget and accuracy rate.

“As these results show, sales organisations continue to be challenged by insufficient reporting, unreliable data and time-consuming manual processes,” said Iffat Mushtaq, senior director of Global Strategy Services at OpenSymmetry.

“With 2014 sales planning on the horizon, our survey findings suggest organisations should invest in infrastructure assessment now, and make critical adjustments to ensure their sales compensation strategy delivers the intelligence needed to achieve sales goals and maintain their market leadership.”

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