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The four pillars of talent management systems: A solid HR foundation

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Sales compensation management system boosts visibility at prosthetics supplier

Salespeople at a California prosthetic supplier get paid faster, work smarter with sales compensation management system software.

Cascade Orthopedic Supply moves dozens of arms and legs each day. But its sales team felt disconnected from the rewards of their work because of the company's patchwork system that tracked commissions.

Eight sales representatives sell prosthetic limbs, back and knee braces and other patient aids to orthopedic and prosthetic providers across North America. But representatives never saw which transactions they got credit for until pay day because Cascade didn't have a sales performance tool.

Cascade finally got balanced about a year ago when the Chico, Calif.-based company integrated a sales compensation management system into its Salesforce.com CRM platform. Salespeople now receive up-to-the-minute updates on their quotas and goals, improving sales performance, according to the company.

"We do a lot of repeat business," said James Mayfield, Cascade's business analyst. "We only sell to about 2,000 unique [customers] -- a limited number of certified providers. We had a lot of repeat business and had such a high transaction volume, but we didn't have a good visual of those sales."

Cascade recognized the need for change  in 2009, when it acquired another supply company and doubled its sales force to the eight representatives. Around that time, Cascade also took on Salesforce.com as its CRM provider, and it made sense to improve the tracking of sales, Mayfield said.

Until then, Cascade had used a legacy compensation process: Each fiscal quarter, the company president ran a SQL report, transferred the results to Excel spreadsheets and then spent hours calculating commissions.

This meant sales reps didn't have a full understanding of sales performance, of where they stood on quotas. They'd see a roundup of their sales only on commission checks. With a sales rep handling as many as 600 accounts, this was an inefficient way to conduct business and gave the staff little reason to improve performance, Mayfield said.

Cascade's Salesforce.com representative told the company about Xactly, an on-demand sales compensation management provider based in San Jose, Calif. Cascade went with Xactly Express, a software program for small businesses, last year.

The immediate benefit of Express is sales representatives don't have to wait until they're paid to see what they've earned and how they earned it. They can check their numbers daily with reports and dashboards, Mayfield said. And they get paid sooner; Cascade now cuts checks monthly.

The transparency of an on-demand sales system allows the sales staff to see which customer accounts need attention and plan long term, Mayfield said. The staff has a strategic perspective of the 300 vendors and suppliers that Cascade represents and can better align product needs to customers, he said.

And having a current view of whether they're above or below goals gives the staff the motivation to adjust sales performance. Real-time numbers permits reps to set their own annual quotas, and sales have improved, he said.

Xactly Express integrated nicely with Salesforce.com's CRM platform, which is connected to Cascade's ERP system, Mayfield said.

There were hiccups, though. There was a problem integrating data that wasn't in Salesforce's system, and it took time to determine how to assign sales territories in Express, he said. 

Additionally, Express doesn't provide an easy way to delete old sales deals, Mayfield said. With a high transaction volume running through Salesforce.com, Cascade had to buy additional data storage. Xactly is working on a button-click solution to delete those records, he said.

A company looking to modernize its sales compensation and management system should first have an understanding of its compensation strategy, Mayfield recommended. Have an implementation specialist assigned to your account, and make sure that person understands your organization and data structure, he said.

Cascade believes it made the right choice with Express, Mayfield said.

"Xactly is a great fit for Salesforce.com users," he said. "If your data is in (Salesforce.com) Xactly can calculate a commission on it.  The flexibility … has helped grow our business without taking up additional resources."

Next Steps

Should you consider sales performance management software?

Revising sales roles with CRM, sales tools

This was first published in October 2012

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