Tool Do Homework Before Shopping for Sales Incentive Software

By Michelle Rafter

Mar. 6, 2008

There’s more to buying a sales incentive management solution than writing a check. Before committing the time and money, consider your company’s needs and which product will come closest to meeting them, say industry analysts and compensation executives who have been there and done that—like Gary Lawrence, senior manager of sales compensation at Waste Management. Other advice:

    Know what you’re after. Do you want a stand-alone sales incentive management program or a complete sales performance management solution? There are different vendors for each, so it pays to know what you’re looking for from the outset.

Review existing processes and correct what’s broken. Switching from a spreadsheet to a sales incentive management solution won’t fix glitches in how you calculate commissions or other errors in the plan. Failing to address such problems beforehand will only add to implementation time because you’ll have to stop and deal with them along the way, Lawrence says.

Understand how a sales incentive solution will fit into existing HR systems. If you’re upgrading existing core HR software, consider waiting until that is up and running before adding a sales incentive management program. That way you avoid double trouble should the larger implementation hit a snag.

    Consider available IT resources. Does your company have the servers and personnel to commit to an on-premises solution? The answer will determine whether you license on-site software or use a hosted or software-as-a-service solution.

    Hire a consulting firm. At Waste Management, Lawrence hired a consultant to draw up a request for proposals and evaluate vendors. “It was such a large purchase we wanted to dot all our i’s and cross our t’s before we asked senior leadership for funding,” Lawrence says.

    Ask for demos. Ask vendors to demonstrate how they would handle a few of your current incentive plans to see if what they provide matches or bests your present program. Other things to look at: the level of detail in reports, and how flexible programs are, in case you want to customize something.

Demand support. If you’re spending big bucks on a solution for thousands of users, make sure you’ve got adequate vendor backup. At Waste Management, Lawrence’s project team has a standing Tuesday morning conference call with their counterparts at Varicent to discuss strategies and problems.

Michelle Rafter is a Workforce contributing editor.

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