Article

Modernizing salesforce talent and rewards programs

March 11, 2019
| Canada
Aerial view of people sitting
With the convergence of increased computing power, big data and breakthroughs in machine learning, AI is poised to transform how people work. While some researchers predict automation driven by AI could impact nearly 50% of job activities and eliminate approximately 5% of jobs, new data from IDC research suggests AI could also augment and increase employee productivity, specifically in customer relationship management. From predictive sales lead scoring, to service chat-bots, to personalized marketing campaigns, AI could increase productivity and provide smarter, more personalized customer experiences.
– “A Trillion Dollar Boost: The Economic Impact of AI on Customer Relationship Management,” White Paper by Salesforce, 2017.

At the turn of the century, technology sparked a sea change that threatened to slowly eliminate the solution seller as a “middle-man”. Now, Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is driving an unprecedented seed change across the sales landscape that is threatening to swiftly wipe-out entire sales job families. We have already seen sales jobs disappear, such as the human “lead generator” being replaced by AI. The remaining, reimagined sales jobs are now challenging conventional sales talent management and rewards approaches.

The knee-jerk reaction to sales environment changes most typically is to promptly counter with new and different sales incentives. The inadvertent result of such a reaction is a growing suite of ever-more-complex sales compensation plans that do not pass the “elevator test”. At Willis Towers Watson, we believe that the modern sales compensation approach needs to be agile, represented by plans that are simple and focused. These plans need to be reinforced by a broader suite of talent management programs tailored to the sales force.

A holistic approach to sales talent management is critical to seize the opportunity from this seed change. Sales professionals are increasingly expected to be flexible, to be more consultative when needed, to effectively and uniquely add value dependent on each customer’s journey.

The evolving sales environment will continue to challenge effective sales management, reinforcing the need for thoughtful, simple and clear talent management programs for both individual contributor and people management sales roles. Don’t wait to act. The time is now.

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