Gold-Standard Products Get Updated For The 21st Century

What’s old is new again. Corduroy, fanny packs, and overalls are all the rage. Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Jumanji are at the top of the box office. Is it 1995 or 2018? Like so many of our favorite ’90s products, sales performance management (SPM) solutions are experiencing a major resurgence, made possible in part by advancements in automation and artificial intelligence.

Although SPM solutions have been around in some form or fashion for about 20 years, the category is now in the midst of an exciting renaissance. Advancements in software automation and cognitive computing have enabled SPM vendors to deliver exponentially more value to enterprise firms’ sales apparatuses. SPM functionalities are improving rapidly, not only in core areas of incentive compensation, territory, and quota planning and management but also in adjacent and complementary areas such as sales readiness, social engagement, and workforce and capacity planning.

As SPM vendors add new functionality to deliver more value to their customers, the pressure is mounting on sales leaders to deliver exciting and efficient growth. In a recent Forrester survey, 66% of B2B sales leaders stated that both revenue and profit goals increased in 2018 relative to 2017. As sales and other business leaders look to gain an edge from smart tooling, sales performance management solutions that can enable a 5%–10% productivity lift post-rollout will experience a resurgence. Our research confirms this trend, as 6% of B2B sales leaders implemented an SPM solution in the past 12 months, and 29% are implementing or plan to implement one in the next 12 to 18 months.

What’s more, with new and expanded capabilities that directly benefit sellers and other stakeholders such as HR and finance, getting buy-in is now easier than ever. And there are costs to not implementing an SPM solution. The 65% of B2B companies still utilizing manual or homegrown solutions for the business planning and execution process will face ballooning sales operations headcounts and long, inefficient quota- and territory-setting cycles. Companies without an automated SPM solution in place also risk overpayment leakage of up to 3% of annual compensation expenses; this alone can represent a multimillion-dollar issue for larger enterprises. If you are interested in learning more about SPM and the top vendors in the category, check out our “The Forrester Wave™: Sales Performance Management Solutions, Q1 2019” evaluation.

The SPM renaissance shows us that, in the words of my fellow Mainer @StephenKing, “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” Keep that in mind as you prepare for Disney’s upcoming The Lion King movie, costarring former Destiny’s Child frontwoman Beyoncé Knowles-Carter!

For more on the challenges of modern B2B selling, see my recent report, “B2B Consultant Sellers Reign In The 21st Century.”