How To Sell Sales Commission Software to C-Suite

That’s it! You’ve had enough of spreadsheets and decided it’s time to move up the evolutionary software scale to a “fit for purpose” commission software program. But how do you convince your boss, IT, Finance, HR and the Executive Team to support your new software project? Already, you can hear the groans reverberating off the office walls: “not a new IT project!” or “we don’t have time” or “there’s no money in the budget for this”. What you need is a compelling business case.

We recommend you build your business case on four pillars:

  1. Improved Sales
  2. PerformanceReduced Risk
  3. Improved Business Processes
  4. Reduced Administration Costs

Let’s look at each one of these individually.

how to sell sales commission software to c-suite

Improved Sales Performance

Believe it or not, improving sales performance is not a dark art. Providing your sales force with immediate access and clear communication to sales performance metrics is a good way to dial up performance. But it is time-consuming for the sales force to access this information from a spreadsheet held by one person or department. A good commission software program will provide a dashboard with all the performance data salespeople need at the click of one button.

improved sales performance

Reduced Risk

Relying on spreadsheets to complete complex sales commission calculations exposes the business to financial, HR and knowledge risks. Risk factors include:

  • Financial leakage – money goes down the drain because too much commission is paid or productive employee time is wasted reworking the commission payments.
  • Disgruntled sales people – unhappy because they’ve been paid too little, too late or had their commission clawed back, turning their win into a loss.
  • Loss of knowledge – the creator of the spreadsheet leaves or changes role taking with them understanding about the data and commission process.

If the perceived risk of using spreadsheets is low in your organization then ask why spreadsheets aren’t used for other business-critical processes, such as payroll.

reduce risk

Improved Business Process

Every manager wants to demonstrate their credentials by improving the business. It creates a sense of accomplishment, which they can document in their resume. Scalable, efficient and resilient systems create efficiency in the short-term and make a business a more attractive investment proposition long-term. Make your proposal an opportunity to create a win for your manager and executive team.

improved business process

Reduce Administration Costs

Administration costs are the most obvious but perhaps least exciting component to your business case. Ask everyone who works on the sales commission process to keep a record of the hours they spend each month on crunching and re-crunching the numbers. Then multiply that by their gross hourly rate and you’ll have an indication of what the administration costs are. However, this approach does not take into account the cost of ‘shadow accounting’, which is the amount of time spent by the salesforce on commission calculation issues when they should be focused on selling.

It’s likely the saving in administration costs alone would be enough to justify the cost of a commission software program but it may not be enough to motivate senior executives to support the project.

If you are looking for external evidence to validate your business case, consider appending the 2012 Sales Performance and Technology Survey by WorldatWork and OpenSymmetry to your business case. The report is now four years old however but the results achieved by the companies that responded are compelling.

lower administration costs

Sales Performance and Technology Survey

“For which the following does your new sales compensation technology investment either meet or exceed your expectations? (Please select top three.)” (n=122)

(Only participants who answered yes, in any form, in Table 6 received this question.)

by WorldatWork and OpenSymmetry 2012, page 14.

Option Percentage
Improved reporting to the sales force 46%
Improved reporting to management 40%
Improved administration productivity 37%
Improved payment accuracy 36%
Increased credibility with sales force & management 25%
Improved service to the sales force (to provide a quicker response to enquiries) 25%
Increased auditing capabilities 20%
Eased creation and tracking of adjustments 20%
Reduced “shadow accounting” 16%
Other 10%

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