September 7 by Sarah Van Caster

Apttus Makes a Splash at the World at Work Spotlight on Sales Compensation Conference

The week of August 21, 2017, was a big week for Apttus in the world of sales compensation. We publicly launched the Apttus Intelligent Incentive Compensation (IICM) solution and sponsored the World at Work Spotlight on Sales Compensation conference. This annual event brings sales operations leaders, finance executives, compensation specialists and thought leaders from around the global to Chicago for a three-day immersion of all things sales compensation. It is THE event for sales compensation professionals and for the first time, Apttus was front and center with this audience. This year’s event exceeded expectations and we look forward to participating again next year.

There were a few key trends that came out of the conference and we were proud to be the thought leaders around the value of machine learning and sales compensation. Jason Loh (General Manager, Incentives, Apttus) and Sarah Van Caster (Director of Product Marketing, Incentives, Apttus) were joined on stage by Greg McLaughlin, VP of Global Sales Operations, Getty Images and Tom Murtaugh, Senior Director of Business Operations, AppNexus, for a compelling panelist discussion on current trends in sales operations and the new, innovative opportunities with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Sales Incentives and Machine Learning: Intelligently Motivate Revenue-Driving Behaviors

In our discussion, we covered how, traditionally, sales operations tasks like incentive compensation are often based more on intuition than data. More and more, there is some level of analysis that goes into these activities. However, most insight and reports today are hindsight – based on data from the past and adjustments are made well after there is any potential to change behavior before the end of the quarter or end of the year. What if optimal changes could be identified mid-period and put in place well before it is too late?

Enter machine learning.


The concept of machine learning is not new. It has been around for decades, but its application to enterprise software is relatively new, particularly with sales performance management, and its popularity is growing. In our presentation, we discussed the many factors making machine learning realistically applicable in the business world – cheap cloud computing and storage, pervasive use of mobile devices that collect and consume gigabytes of data in minutes, and freely available algorithms are all major contributors to accelerating machine learning adoption.

Machine learning is about applying learned data to prescribe more economically efficient business decisions. Sales incentives apply the disciplines of psychology and behavioral economics to prompt people to make desired decisions. When you combine principles of behavioral economics with the data science of machine learning, you create the potential to optimize sales behaviors and drive powerful business outcomes.

Machine learning leverages powerful data trend analysis to predict buying and selling behaviors based on past activities and outcomes. It takes massive volumes of transactional data, quickly sorts it, groups it, finds trends and makes informed decisions based on known business rules and desired outcomes. For sales operations professionals, this applies especially well to areas like sales compensation and forecasting.

Applications of Machine Learning for Sales Incentives

Setup Guidance – Design intelligent compensation plans, quotas and territories that motivate sellers and can be easily adapted as market and business needs evolve.

Cross Sell/Upsell Opportunities – Cross-sell and up-sell recommendations for products and services that customers are most likely to purchase based on analysis of past purchases and similar customers, and that offer motivating commission potential.

Pricing & Commission Intelligence – Recommends optimal price or discount levels and maximizes commission potential for each deal based on machine learning analysis of the deal characteristics, sales history and compensation plans.

Our final message to our audience of sales compensation leaders was, when applied together, machine learning and sales incentives provide powerful, previously unattainable business results by collecting relevant, timely insight and defining incentives that ultimately align human behaviors with organizational goals.

Want to learn more about how sales incentives can align revenue-winning behaviors across sales channels? Download the Ultimate Guide to Sales Incentives today!

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