SPM and CRM: Similar In Every Aspect

I couldn’t help but take note of Martin’s recent commentary on sales performance management (SPM), as I use to cover the space extensively while at CRM magazine years ago. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Chris Cabrera, along with most of the other executives from Xactly, Centive and Callidus over the years. It doesn’t surprise one bit to see Cabrera directly responding to our blog…that’s just the sort of guy he was and what made him such a great interview.

In almost every aspect SPM has paralleled CRM. CRM use to be a “nice to have” for enterprises, then developed into a mission-critical application. Once the SaaS model was developed, these solutions became the tools of SMBs as well.

The same can be said of the SPM space, which appropriately enough, use to be commonly referred to as enterprise incentive management (EIM), because it was just that, a tool of the enterprise, and an important one for those big businesses with large sales forces and complex sales plans that involved mutlitiered and ramped rates, territory management, distributors, etc. Companies like Xactly have helped to bring that functionality to the masses via the SaaS model.

Finally, both in CRM and SPM, somebody decided why not strap a reporting engine onto all this great data and mine information from it? And I think this is where we’ll continue to see these two markets converge. It’s certainly a topic that Martin and I heard a lot about at the Gartner CRM Summit back in September.

An integrated SFA/CRM system with SPM offers a VP of sales a 360-degree view (I know, it’s cliché) of their sales operations, allowing somebody to track a lead all the way through to its close and then figure out who gets paid. Plus it allows you to shorten sales cycles, push products to market faster, predict sales more accurately for upcoming quarters, and get a more accurate review of the performance of your sales organizations. Last but not least, sales people are coined operated.

One of the reasons why the term has switched from “incentive management” to “sales performance” is to reflect this new analytical take on running your sales organizations. In either event, it will be interesting to see how these two pieces of software will continue to play out and converge in the immediate future.