Are you using spreadsheets to deliver sales commission statements? At Sales Cookie, we help modern organizations automate their sales incentive program. This includes eliminating sales commission spreadsheets. Calculating commissions take seconds, and each rep gets an online incentive dashboard where they can review their goals, crediting, rewards, and more. But what makes sales commission spreadsheets so evil?

Reason #1 – Increased Risk

A common issue associated with sales commission spreadsheets is an increased risk profile:

  • It’s easy to send them to the wrong person. It only takes a incorrect email address auto-complete to send sensitive compensation information to the wrong rep.
  • Most reps aren’t Excel power users, and so default to printing them. As a result, commission spreadsheets are often left on employee desks, in printer rooms, etc.
  • Most accounting departments generate one master spreadsheet, then filter rows for each rep. Unfortunately, simple filtering leaks data – row deletion is required.
  • As spreadsheets are sent back and forth (ex: following a correction request), reps can tamper with formulas, or add invisible cells which compromise results.
  • Unless Accounting methodically archives every revision, sales commission spreadsheets can create financial compliance and reporting issues.

Reason #2 – Time-Consuming

Another issue associated with sales commission spreadsheets is the amount of time required to generate them – but also to distribute them and make adjustments:

  • Accounting must generate one spreadsheet per rep. This typically requires careful deletion of rows from a master spreadsheet to create a rep-specific version.
  • Accounting must distribute spreadsheets to participants. It takes time to password-protect spreadsheets, carefully prepare & verify emails, etc.
  • Accounting must also re-generate spreadsheets each time a correction is needed. For example, if a rep found a missing deal, full re-generation is typically required.
  • Accounting should also verify that formulas and data have not been tampered with during back-and-forth exchanges, and archive all versions for auditing purposes.

Reason #3 – Not Interactive

Sales commission spreadsheets lack interactive features which modern sales departments expect:

  • Spreadsheets are rows of data – not performance dashboards. Reps typically can’t review enrollment status, sales goals, attainment levels, terms & conditions, etc.
  • Reps can’t review commission statements when on the go. Spreadsheets are usually dense, and poorly suited to mobile devices. Also, they can require a large download.
  • Reps can’t review historical performance. To compare their latest commissions with previous periods, they must find and download older spreadsheets.
  • Reps cannot submit inquiries about rewards, crediting, etc. As a result, Accounting is bombarded with requests (using different formats, and from various channels).

Reason #4 – Not Transparent

Finally, sales commission spreadsheets just aren’t very transparent. Formulas may be correct, but they will likely reference some cells, which in turn reference other cells. And so, we often find that even those employees who authored commission spreadsheets get confused about how everything was put together.

Worse, most sales reps aren’t Excel power users, and will either give up trying to understand formulas, or will spend too much time calculating their own commissions to make sure results match. This typically results in a higher volume of inquiries to Accounting (ex: request for clarifications), plus time wasted in “shadow accounting”.

Finally, sales commission spreadsheets are not very transparent because they do not include terms and conditions for getting rewards. They aren’t transparent because they are often generated at the end of a pay period, when most reps want to see how they are progressing, and what their commission may look like.

In Conclusion

Sales commission spreadsheets increase risk, are inefficient, and lack transparency. They also fail to deliver the interactive components of a streamlined sales incentive program – such as the ability to submit inquiries, enroll in plans, review progress, or access terms and conditions.

Some organizations attempt to fix this by generating complex spreadsheets with many tabs, each explaining how commissions were calculated. This still doesn’t address key problems such as time-consuming generation, painful delivery, limited mobile access, or the inability for reps to review progress.

The good news is that, using Sales Cookie, you can automate your entire sales commission program. Each rep gets a personalized incentive dashboard where they can access all their commission-related information. And we integrate with many systems such as Dynamics CRM, HubSpot, QuickBooks, PayPal, SalesForce, etc.

Visit our website to learn more.