Compensation calculation, streamlining workflow, generating performance reports, monitoring sales activity, managing various territories, establishing and aligning sales teams with company goals – these are all crucial tasks to operating a successful sales department. However, none of these activities are a walk in the park to perform. It takes a lot of time, energy and resources to manage all those various factors, and even more so to do it in a precise and timely fashion.

For years, businesses would use a variety of tools and assign a multitude of people to perform the various tasks that are crucial to an efficient, productive sales teams. For example, at worldwide internet infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider Dyn, it was one employee's job to handle compensation calculation and she spent nearly half her time at work dealing with that aspect of sales. Obviously, managing a sales team can be a time-consuming and draining process.

However, technology has advanced significantly over the past decade. Incentive compensation management (ICM) programs can now help companies take care of many of these tasks, reducing the time that key managers and financial people have to spend on non-mission-critical activities. Additionally, the cost-to-feature value of ICM software has improved, while many vendors have focused on making the applications easier to use. All in all, ICM software can now provide a significant return on investment for sales teams.

That said, implementation still remains a key challenge. A single executive may oversee the purchase and integration of a single ICM system over the course of his or her tenure at a company. This can make it difficult to pick the right solution and then successfully implement it into a business' workflow.

Synygy president and CEO Mark Stiffler notes several challenges companies may face as they integrate ICM solutions.

1. Operational changes: ICM brings a new way of completing existing tasks. However, sales teams need to be willing to anticipate and embrace the transition, whether it's at a basic level or a much higher one.

2. In-depth knowledge. Intricate and complex parts of sales management, such as data inputs, sales crediting, report generation and workflow, all need to be adjusted as ICM is integrated to ensure everything is in line with the new system.

3. Speed: Learning to use new technology can be difficult. Businesses may stumble with integration if they aren't prepared, drawing out the process and reducing ROI.

For these reasons, sales organizations may want to consider a third-party consultant to aid with the implementation of ICM software.