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How to Choose The Right Sales Incentive Compensation Management Software

Sameer Sinha
CEO & Co-Founder At Visdum
Published On:
April 3, 2024

A well-designed sales incentive plan is crucial for driving revenue growth and keeping your sales team motivated. But as your business scales, managing those incentives can become a major headache.

If you're still relying on spreadsheets to calculate and distribute commissions, you've likely felt the pain:

  • Errors creep in as formulas get more complex, leading to costly mistakes and disputes with reps
  • The process is time-consuming and cumbersome, taking valuable resources away from strategic priorities
  • There's a lack of transparency, leaving reps uncertain about their earnings and eroding trust

In fact, Gartner found that only 24% of sellers really understand how their incentives are calculated when using manual methods. That's a huge problem when you consider that your comp plan should be a key lever for shaping seller behavior.

The good news is that sales incentive compensation management (ICM) software can completely transform this process, empowering you to:

  • Dramatically improve operational efficiency, reducing errors by up to 90% and slashing dispute resolution times by over 40%
  • Unlock significant cost savings, with some companies cutting the time spent managing comp by 50%
  • Gain a powerful lever for motivating sellers and driving better sales outcomes

And the impact can be game-changing. McKinsey found that optimizing incentive plans can turbocharge sales by 50% more than even marketing investments.

But with so many ICM solutions on the market, how do you cut through the noise and choose the right one for your business?

In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential features to look for and a step-by-step process to evaluate your options. You'll go back with a clear roadmap to select the best sales incentive compensation management software to propel your business forward.

Top-Tier Incentive Compensation Management Software: 7 Must-Have Features

According to Gartner, incentive compensation management (ICM) software should be able to:

  • Handle the complexities of compensation rules and crediting
  • Process large amounts of data quickly
  • Manage and administer compensation plans, quotas, crediting, and adjustments
  • Process commissionable transactions
  • Generate transaction registers and commission statements 

To meet these requirements, look for these seven essential capabilities when evaluating ICM platforms:

Robust Rule Engine

A powerful rules engine that can easily configure and manage complex compensation plans, including those with multiple variables and conditions, is essential. This engine should allow for the creation of rules without extensive coding knowledge.

Look for:

  • A no-code or low-code interface that empowers admins to create and modify rules without IT assistance
  • Pre-built templates and rule libraries to streamline plan setup
  • The ability to handle a wide variety of incentive types (commissions, bonuses, SPIFFs, etc.) and payout frequencies

Flexibility in Crediting 

The software should support various crediting rules, including split commissions, overrides, and team-based incentives, ensuring that the right people are credited accurately for their contributions. 

Key capabilities include:

  • Support for split crediting, overlay assignments, and adjustments
  • The ability to credit multiple roles (e.g., rep, manager, overlay) on a single transaction
  • Flexible rollup and rolldown hierarchies to handle changes in territory assignments

Scalability

As businesses grow, their compensation plans become more complex. Good ICM software must scale without significant performance degradation, handling an increasing volume of transactions and data. 

Ensure your solution offers:

  • Superior performance to handle large volumes of data and users
  • Automated data processing to reduce manual effort
  • The ability to easily add new reps, plans, and incentive types over time


Integration Capabilities 

Effective ICM solutions should integrate seamlessly with other business systems, such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), Billing Systems (like Stripe, PayPal, QuickBooks, etc.) and HRIS (Human Resource Information System), to leverage data across the organization for accurate compensation calculation.

Look for an ICM platform that provides:

  • Bi-directional data syncing to eliminate manual uploads and exports
  • Pre-built connectors for popular CRM, ERP, HCM, and billing systems
  • Flexible API and web services for custom integrations

Transparency and Reporting 

Providing clear, accessible reports and dashboards for both administrators and compensation recipients helps in understanding how incentives are calculated, fostering trust and enabling better decision-making.

Key features to look for include:

  • Real-time dashboards and reports
  • Drill-down capabilities to view transaction-level details
  • Self-service access for reps to view their progress and payouts
  • Flexible reporting tools for admins to monitor and analyze plan effectiveness

Compliance and Audit Trails 

The software should include features for monitoring compliance with internal policies and external regulations, along with comprehensive audit trails for all calculations and payouts. 

Your ICM platform should provide:

  • Automated tracking of all data changes and calculations
  • Comprehensive audit trails to demonstrate compliance
  • Built-in workflows for approval and sign-off processes
  • Secure data storage and access controls


User-Friendly Interface

A user-friendly interface is crucial for administrators who set up and manage compensation plans, as well as for employees who want to track their performance and earnings.

Look for an ICM platform with:

  • An intuitive, easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Guided workflows and in-app help for common tasks
  • Mobile access for reps to view their performance on the go
  • Minimal training required for administrators and reps to get up and running

These seven features align with Gartner's recommendations for ICM software capabilities. 

By prioritizing them in your evaluation process, you can be confident you're selecting a best-in-class platform that will meet your needs today and scale with you into the future. 

Choosing the Right ICM Software: A Step-by-Step Guide

With so many ICM platforms in the market, selecting the right one for your business can seem daunting. Let’s explore how to map these capabilities to your specific business requirements to choose the right software for your organization.

Follow these eight steps to make an informed decision:

1. Assess Your Business Needs

Start by clearly defining your business objectives and the challenges you face with your current compensation management processes. 

For example, as yourself:

  • Do you have a dedicated Sales Comp Analyst? If not then, you may need a software that is self-served and business user friendly. It should be intuitive with a good UX.
  • Do you face a lot of enquiries / disputes from your payees? If so, you may need a software that automates this workflow as it would avoid a lot of back and forth.
  • Do you have a tiered commission structure that has commission rates based on sales performance tiers? Would the commission tool allow for easy creation and modification of this structure while maintaining past history?

Consider your company size, industry, sales cycle complexity, and the specific goals you aim to achieve with ICM software.

2. Research and Shortlist ICM Vendors

Conduct thorough research to identify software vendors that specialize in your industry and have a proven track record of success. Look for reviews, case studies, and testimonials to shortlist potential vendors.

Does the software:

  • Use predefined rules and formulas to calculate sales commission payouts based on your criteria and plan logic? 
  • Integrate with customer relationship management and/or billing systems and pull sales activity and customer transaction data to calculate commissions automatically?
  • Provide automation that saves time and reduces errors and discrepancies in commission payouts.

3. Evaluate ICM Software Features

Match your business needs with the features offered by each vendor. Prioritize software that offers the flexibility to create diverse compensation plans, robust reporting and analytics, and integrates seamlessly with your existing tools. Use the list of features mentioned in the section above.

Assess their ability to:

  • Handle complex plan designs and crediting rules
  • Scale with your business over time
  • Integrate with your existing systems
  • Provide transparency and auditability
  • Support compliance requirements
  • Offer a user-friendly interface

4. Consider Implementation and Support

Evaluate the vendor's support services, including implementation assistance, training resources, and customer support availability. A vendor that offers comprehensive support will ensure a smoother transition and help you maximize the value of your investment.

Look for:

  • A proven implementation methodology and timeline
  • Dedicated project management and training resources
  • Ongoing technical support and customer success services
  • Regular software updates and enhancements

5. Request Custom Demos, Trials or POCs

Before making a final decision, request live demonstrations and, if possible, a trial period to test the software in your environment. This will give you a hands-on understanding of how well the software meets your needs and how intuitive it is for your team.

During these, assess:

  • Ease of use and intuitiveness of the interface
  • Ability to handle your specific use cases and scenarios
  • Performance and speed of calculations
  • Quality and relevance of reporting and analytics

6. Analyze Total Cost of Ownership

Consider not just the upfront cost but also the total cost of ownership, including implementation, training, support, and any additional fees for updates or add-ons. Opt for a solution that offers transparent pricing and aligns with your budget.

Factor in:

  • Implementation and integration costs
  • Training and change management efforts
  • Ongoing support and maintenance fees
  • Hardware or infrastructure upgrades
  • Opportunity costs of not having the right system in place

7. Get Feedback from Your Sales Team

Involving your sales team in the selection process can provide valuable insights into the features and usability that will best support their work. Their feedback can be instrumental in choosing a software that they will readily adopt and benefit from.

Solicit their input on:

  • The most critical pain points to address
  • The usability and relevance of each platform
  • The feasibility of implementation and adoption
  • The alignment with long-term business goals

8. Make an Informed Decision

Finally, combine your research, hands-on experiences, feedback from your team, and cost analyses to make a well-informed decision. Choose the software that best meets your business needs, supports your sales team, and offers the best value for your investment.

By following these steps, you can confidently navigate the ICM software landscape and choose a platform that will help you maximize the performance and impact of your incentive compensation programs.

Top 5 Best Incentive Management software

After thorough research and analysis of user reviews, here are our top 5 picks for the best sales incentive management software in 2024:

Visdum 

Visdum has gained popularity among SaaS companies for its deep CRM integration, accurate and transparent commission calculations, and user-friendly interface. 

Users appreciate the ability to easily integrate, choose fields, set filter criteria, and sync schedules. The platform offers IC dashboards that offer a quick snapshot of achievements and earnings and helps sales-reps stay motivated.

Pros of Visdum:

1. Seamless integration with existing systems streamlines sales compensation management.

2. Intuitive design and navigation enhance efficiency.

3. Versatile handling of diverse sales compensation plans.

Cons of Visdum:

1. Initial plan setup may be time-consuming, despite swift change request handling.

CaptivateIQ 

CaptivateIQ is praised for its intuitive design, automated commission calculations, and excellent customer service. 

The platform's flexibility in managing complex commission structures and clear visual representation of calculations have impressed users. Its integration with CRM and accounting software has greatly improved sales operations effectiveness.

Pros of CaptivateIQ:

1. Robust analytics provide insightful sales performance data.

2. Efficient CRM integration ensures seamless data synchronization.

3. User-friendly interface enhances overall experience.

Cons of CaptivateIQ:

1. Learning curve may require initial training for full feature utilization.

2. Extensive customization options may be complex for non-technical users, affecting ease of use.

QuotaPath 

QuotaPath offers a simple, intuitive dashboard for tracking goal attainment and performance. 

Users appreciate the ability to quickly see attainment broken down by deal. The platform's seamless Salesforce integration and responsive customer support are also highly valued. However, some users feel the dashboard could be more rep-friendly.

Pros of QuotaPath

1. Introduces transparency and accountability into the commission process, reducing repetitive queries from sales reps.

2. Streamlines commission calculations for the sales team, providing real-time earnings visibility.

Cons of QuotaPath

1. Challenges in allowing sales managers or ops to build team comp plans without external support.

2. Inability to connect to custom objects in Salesforce and occasional clunky views.

Spiff 

Spiff is known for its exceptional customer service, with a knowledgeable team that provides personalized solutions for complex compensation programs. 

Users find the platform easy to navigate and appreciate the real-time commission tracking. However, some have expressed a desire for more advanced filtering and analytics features.

Pros of SPIFF:

1. Intuitive user interface fosters a friendly environment.

2. Offers excellent visibility for reps regarding commissions.

Cons of SPIFF:

1. Optimization for individual requests poses challenges, potentially consuming time or incurring expenses.

2. Slow and cumbersome onboarding experience leads to significant deployment delays.

Performio 

Performio enables businesses to accurately calculate and promptly pay commissions while ensuring transparency.

Users like the platform's flexible data ingestion, intuitive business rules, and sophisticated reporting. However, some have reported challenges with deriving data across different dimensions and expressed a need for more granular access controls.

Pros of Performio:

1. Straightforward platform with simple navigation.

2. Enables users to download Excel files for personal sales tracking.

Cons of Performio:

1. Some users struggle with its intuitiveness, particularly in locating past deals and filtering data.

2. Users request a more detailed month-to-month breakdown and notifications for updates.

Want to dive deeper into the pros, cons, and key features of these top sales incentive management platforms? 

Check out our blog post, "10 Best Sales Compensation Software in 2024 to Supercharge Your Revenue Goals".

Get the insights you need to make an informed decision and choose the right solution to streamline your incentive compensation process, motivate your sales team, and drive revenue growth in 2024 and beyond.

Conclusion

The journey to selecting the right incentive compensation management software is crucial for enhancing your sales team's performance and aligning with your strategic goals. 

By focusing on software that offers comprehensive incentive compensation management features and aligns with your business requirements, you can build a foundation for sustained sales success and growth.

Visdum: The Leading Sales Compensation Solution for SaaS Companies

Are you a SaaS business looking to optimize your sales incentive compensation process? Look no further than Visdum.

With its deep CRM integration, accurate and transparent commission calculations, and user-friendly interface, Visdum has become the go-to choice for SaaS companies seeking to motivate their sales teams and drive revenue growth.

Key benefits of Visdum include:

  • Seamless integration with your existing systems
  • Intuitive design and easy navigation
  • Automated commission calculations and error elimination
  • Quick and effective support for smooth onboarding and issue resolution
  • Transparency in commission tracking for increased rep motivation and productivity

Plus, Visdum's SaaS-specific features, such as built-in support for SaaS metrics and roles, make it uniquely positioned to handle the nuances of SaaS sales compensation.

Don't just take our word for it - see what Visdum can do for your SaaS business. Schedule a demo today and experience the power of a purpose-built sales compensation solution.

FAQs

What is incentive compensation management (ICM)?

Incentive compensation management (ICM) is the process of designing, administering, and analyzing compensation plans that motivate and reward employees for achieving specific goals or objectives. 

ICM involves defining performance metrics, setting targets, calculating payouts, and communicating results to participants. Effective ICM aligns employee behavior with company goals, drives performance, and ensures fair and accurate compensation.

What is incentive management software?

Incentive management software is a tool that automates and streamlines the process of managing employee incentive compensation plans. It enables organizations to design, implement, and track complex compensation structures, calculate payouts based on performance data, and provide transparency to participants. 

Incentive management software simplifies the administration of incentive plans, reduces errors, and provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of compensation strategies.

What are the three types of incentive systems for employee compensation?

The three main types of incentive systems for employee compensation are:

  1. Individual incentives: These reward employees based on their individual performance, such as meeting sales targets, achieving specific goals, or demonstrating desired behaviors. Examples include commissions, bonuses, and spot awards.
  2. Team incentives: These reward groups of employees for collective performance, fostering collaboration and shared accountability. Team incentives can be based on metrics like overall sales, customer satisfaction, or project milestones.
  3. Organizational incentives: These reward all employees based on the company's overall performance, aligning everyone towards common goals. Profit-sharing plans, stock options, and company-wide bonuses are examples of organizational incentives.

What is the role of an incentive compensation manager? 

An incentive compensation manager is responsible for designing, implementing, and managing an organization's incentive compensation plans. Key responsibilities include:

  • Developing compensation strategies that align with company goals and market practices
  • Defining performance metrics and setting targets for incentive plans
  • Collaborating with stakeholders to ensure plan effectiveness and buy-in
  • Overseeing the administration of plans, including calculations, payouts, and communications
  • Monitoring and analyzing plan performance, making adjustments as needed
  • Ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements
  • Providing training and support to participants and managers

Incentive compensation managers play a critical role in motivating employees, driving performance, and optimizing compensation spend for the organization.

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