• August 27, 2018
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

The Best Sales Performance Management (SPM) Software and Solutions: The CRM Market Leader Awards 2018

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The sales performance management (SPM) software category is an extension of the old incentive management category and comprises more back-office sales process automation. Companies implement SPM to improve sales execution and operational efficiency with tools to manage incentive compensation, quotas, and territories as well HR functions like employee appraisals, training, hiring, on-boarding, coaching, and even gamification. SPM solutions are increasing being supported by modeling and analytics to help businesses predict and evaluate sales forecasts, trends, and outcomes.

Gartner has valued the current sales performance management market at $850 million and expects it to continue on its pace of 12 percent to 13 percent growth for the next few years. The firm has projected the market to reach $1.4 billion by 2022. 

During that time, look for vendors to expand their focus to advanced analytics, predictive capabilities, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more to expand from sales execution efficiency to plan/process optimization.


Anaplan is a newcomer to the leaderboard this year, propelled there by category-leading scores in both customer satisfaction (3.9) and direction (4.3). But analysts were also impressed by the company’s flexibility, cloud deployment, high usability, and ability to handle complex plans, all of which are “driving great ROI for customers,” according to Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research. “Customers love the flexibility of [its Hyperblock calculation engine] in how it helps with sales insights and sales planning,” adds Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “There’s a small learning curve to get started, but after that, the flexibility is much appreciated by advanced users.”

A 4.0 cost score was enough to position Microsoft on the leaderboard again this year, but its appeal for analysts goes beyond that. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales is a very capable and feature-rich solution in its own right, but Microsoft brings more to the table. “The integration of LinkedIn, Office, and Azure machine learning capabilities are giving Microsoft interesting differentiators in the performance management space,” Wettemann points out. 

Oracle’s depth of functionality score (4.0) was enough to place it on the leaderboard this year, but analysts aren’t too confident in its ability to stay atop the SPM space unless it mixes things up. “I’m not seeing a lot of innovation coming from Oracle on the SPM front,” Wettemann warns.

Xactly, which also scored a 4.0 in depth of functionality, has a lot going for it. The company scored a 3.9 in company direction and a 3.8 in both cost and customer satisfaction. “This product remains top of mind for most customers in the space,” Wang says, noting that Xactly “has done a good job expanding its features and keeping up with customer requests.”


Salesforce.com, a leader last year, won the category this year owing largely to its strong scores in company direction (4.3) and customer satisfaction ( 3.9). Another point in its favor is its integration via the AppExchange with other SPM players, according to Jim Dickie, cofounder and research director at CSO Insights. 

But that, too, is starting to change, particularly as Salesforce strengthens its products organically. “Salesforce’s product has improved over time,” Wang says. “Customers often have a best-of-breed solution in Salesforce.com, but we are starting to see some shifts in customer behavior toward vendor consolidation.”

Wettemann points out that “Lightning and coaching capabilities are making Salesforce a more serious player here.” 

One to Watch 

When SAP spent $2.4 billion earlier this year to buy Callidus Software, it acquired a market leader with robust SPM and powerful analytics capabilities. “The Callidus acquisition puts SAP in a strong position,” Wang says. He and other analysts definitely will be keeping an eye on SAP to see how it incorporates the Callidus technology into its larger CRM portfolio and the HANA platform. 

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