Building Trust and Transparency Between Sales Ops and Finance

Commissions: they’re critical to sellers, of course, but their calculation and disbursement can be a major migraine for sales managers – and even stymie company goals. Sellers need to understand and trust commission payout policies. But if their company is relying on Excel spreadsheets, they typically don’t find how much they made and why they made it until the end of the month or quarter. Even then, commission rationales can seem murky. That may lead to resentment, mistrust – and ultimately, lagging sales and revenues.  

A better path for incentive compensation

Working in tandem, Xactly, Customertimes, and Code Climate have identified a better path for incentivization and compensation. Xactly’s CRM Accelerator is a native Salesforce solution that forges a strong link between sales ops and finance, providing end-to-end transparency on all commission and payment information. Sellers can see how much they’re making, compare performance with peers, and review sales goals and commission policies. Managers can effortlessly track teams and targets, while executives can easily adjust incentives as company priorities evolve. 

Taylor Wilding, Xactly’s Regional Vice President of Sales, observes CRM Accelerator combines the specificity of Incent, the company’s long-established incentive compensation management software, with the reach and power of Salesforce.  

“It creates a stickiness with Salesforce that’s really profound,” said Wilding. “It allows you to put up that single sign within the Salesforce ecosystem that frees sellers from the necessity of going to all these disparate systems. It lets you easily connect the dots between compensable and transactional data, all within the Salesforce environment. It’s essentially revenue nirvana.”  

James Goldfinger, the Chief Customer Officer for Customertimes, said CRM Accelerator supports the proper goal for any technology: serving the user. 

“I’ve worked on CRM for four decades,” said Goldfinger. “You could even say I’m a one-trick pony. But I’ve observed a few things over the years, and one of the most important is the necessity of getting the system to work for the user rather than the other way around. CRM Accelerator is a prime example of the system benefiting the user by providing critical insights in a transparent and timely fashion. And to a real degree, that’s because it establishes that critical stickiness with a major investment – that is, Salesforce. It directly leverages Salesforce’s reporting engines, providing the kind of actionable insights that have dramatic and positive impacts.”  

Increasing business alignment

Along with streamlining and coordinating compensatory and transactional data, Goldfinger said CRM Accelerator effectively addresses another common challenge for businesses: alignment.  

“When you get it right, you have clear communication on goals and priorities from the top all the way down to the people in the trenches,” Goldfinger said. “I’ve been on projects where customers tried to set up Salesforce in a way that didn’t align with corporate goals and incentives. The results weren’t optimal. Anyone in the selling space knows that the best way to stay on track with the corporate mission is to align your incentives appropriately and make them as transparent as possible. CRM Accelerator does that.” 

Wilding agreed, noting that CRM Accelerator lets companies easily adjust their compensation plans to encourage desired seller activity. 

“If your comp plan is formulated properly, it’s going to drive the right behavior,” Wilding said. “That ability for quick compensation policy adjustment and communication has to be effectively implemented in your solution. It gives sellers the ability to act on an opportunity well before a deal closes – say they’ve done some recent discounting, or they’re crossing a tier within the compensation plan. Any information that surfaces can be quickly considered and acted on to optimize sales, their compensation, and company revenues.” 

The right solution, the right implementation

Andrew Sze, the Head of Sales Operations for Code Climate, a firm that specializes in engineering management products, said Xactly’s CRM Accelerator combined with Customertimes’ implementation expertise resulted in a solution that bodes immense benefits for his company.  

“We often describe ourselves as ‘Salesforce for engineers,’ ” said Sze. “We’re a Salesforce-focused company, and we need to make sure we are scalable for our growing sales team and growing revenue structure. Our buildout process has been very easy with CRM Accelerator, and now we’re ready to fully greenlight. Everyone in our company is deeply familiar with everything Salesforce, and since CRM Accelerator is living in Salesforce and integrated with Salesforce flows, onboarding has been virtually painless. It’s been a natural – even intuitive – transition.” 

Wilding echoed Sze’s point on the importance of scalability in a rev ops solution, noting that a rules-based engine such as CRM Accelerator invariably trumped a formula-based approach. 

“With formulas, you often find yourself reinventing the wheel,” Wilding said, “But with a rules-based engine, you’re able to replicate those rules, make tweaks to them as needed, copy them, and apply different plan participants. All that allows for much easier scaling.” 

Building trust with CRM Accelerator

Supporting Goldfinger’s point on the value of trust, Sze lauded CRM Accelerator’s transparency. 

“People need to trust their revenue and finance operations,” he said. “Without that, everything suffers. And with CRM Accelerator and CT’s implementation and support, there’s no question about that. Not only can our sellers back-in to their numbers and know that their commission checks are accurate, but they can also gamify and understand options. Like, ‘Hey, if I take this or that action on discounting and bundling, my check will look like this – and if I don’t, it will look like that.’ And of course, they don’t have to rely on an Excel spreadsheet. And that’s huge. Because as we all know, if you screw up a function on an Excel spreadsheet, things just go down and down, getting worse at every level.” 

Wilding observed that the AI and machine learning components embedded in CRM Accelerator provide alerts that nudge sellers to modify their behavior, expediting the route to closing – a critical asset in today’s hypercompetitive business environment. 

“It allows you to minimize risk by determining if a deal has been sitting at a certain stage too long,” Wilding said. “You can evaluate historical data and what’s in the pipeline, calculate the odds of closing and the likely commission – and then act expeditiously.”  

Increasing Salesforce adoption, driving revenue

In the end, emphasized Goldfinger, it all gets back to qui bono: who benefits from the technology?  An effective incentive and compensation tool must serve the needs of both sellers and the company. Without that alignment, serious imbalances may develop that destroy both trust and messaging, leading to revenue erosion.  

“CRM Accelerator is a success for Code Climate for three reasons,” said Goldfinger. “First, it’s Salesforce native – and really, anything that increases Salesforce adoption should be viewed as a universal good, given the power and reach it encompasses. Second – and I have to toot CT’s horn a bit here – it benefits from the implementation and support that only a top SI can provide.” 

 And finally, concluded Goldfinger, “The architecture of our relationship was critical.  Xactly, Code Climate, and Customertimes operated as true partners and collaborators from start to finish. We were able to implement a superior tool that engendered trust and transparency, that aligned all interests. And we were able to do that because we trusted each other.” 


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