Imagine how the third Monday in next January looks to leaders in the sales department. That’s the first day of the annual sales kickoff and the excitement level won’t get any higher. New products and services are in the works, lucrative customer contracts are up for renewal, alliance partners are in the house, and qualified opportunities are already flowing through your pipeline. The executive team is expecting big things from sales in the new year and has approved hiring additional people to address opportunities that otherwise would be neglected. But despite all this activity, the organization faces two big problems in hiring and integrating new sales staff.
One is that the market has been changing with as the economy improves. The pendulum has swung, from employers having the upper hand on hiring to employees being more in control of their careers. That includes outstanding salespeople. The most productive ones have usually been able to write their own tickets, but they, too, have become increasingly selective about where to work. They won’t consider working for companies with inefficient and dysfunctional sales operations. Moreover, experienced salespeople know that the excitement of an annual kickoff doesn’t last far beyond the trip back to the airport on the final day of the event. The fading of that excitement may expose inadequate weekly sales calls, revenue-oblivious marketing and a general lack of appropriate field coaching, education and support.
It’s here that the second problem comes into focus: the widespread belief that confining onboarding to three days of immersion in discussion of corporate practices, products and partner relationships will prepare people to deliver performance results at least matching, if not exceeding, expectations. In fact, onboarding of new sales reps successfully requires ongoing departmental initiatives that enable a company to ramp up new reps, align them with goals and incentives and provide personalized training and education. It also demands technology tools that facilitate all of these processes and make the sales job easier, not harder. In this competitive employment environment, many outstanding potential sales force candidates won’t settle for less than this level of technology support when they sign on.
Companies struggling to recruit and empower sales talent must address the issue of ineffective technology systems. Our benchmark research on sales compensation identifies several issues that motivate organizations to consider new technology investment, most commonly inconsistent execution in sales (cited by 61%), ineffectiveness of sales (48%) and lack of alignment of sales and strategy (45%). These impediments make it difficult to readily onboard new salespeople, let alone attract industry-leading candidates.
Xactly is one software vendor that addresses these issues. It provides a suite of sales performance management applications, delivered as software as a service (SaaS), that support the sales function. Now the company has added Inspire to its portfolio of products. Xactly Inspire supports the sales onboarding process where companies and their sales departments need it the most – immediately after the annual kickoff. Inspire provides tools for individual rep coaching, performance measurement, continual assessment and suggestions for corrective action. It helps sales managers work individually with their team members to produce revenue-generating results. Inspire has the potential to shorten the ramp times for January’s new hires and ensure that all reps are aligned with organizational goals by matching coaching, training and educational activities to sales incentives.
Xactly continues to expand its offerings in areas of sales performance management. With the debut of Inspire, it announced enhancements to Insights its sales compensation planning application, which increase the range of data available compare and benchmark sales compensation. Customers can use the data to compare their performance to that of their peers across dozens of sales and financial measures.
Xactly Insights won Ventana Research’s 2015 Technology Innovation Award for sales excellence. Inspire adds to the breadth of its offering. We recommend that organizations consider Xactly’s products to help them attract and support sales talent.
Vice President and Research Director, Sales and Marketing