Best Sales Performance Management Software: The 2017 CRM Market Leaders

Article Featured Image


The sales performance management (SPM) market is made up of software and services that help sales team leaders monitor, guide, and motivate their employees to sell better. It includes components for setting goals, developing skills, tracking data on sales territories, establishing quotas, incentive compensation, forecasting, collecting and acting on feedback, conducting performance reviews, incentivizing team members, and planning.

The global market for these types of solutions (which fell under the category of incentive management in past CRM Leaders issues) is growing fast, at a compound annual rate of 18.9 percent, according to Orbis Research, which predicted recently that the market would reach $7.66 billion by 2022, up from $2.71 billion in 2016. 

Though awareness continues to be a challenge for vendors of SPM technologies, that is starting to change, which accounts for some of the rise in demand, according to Persistence Market Research. SPM, the firm holds, can improve sales outcomes by fostering the improvements of individual reps and teams. It can help to reduce the length of sales cycles, cut team churn rates, minimize inaccurate predictions, and better align sales and marketing teams. 

Persistence does point out, however, that market growth has been hampered so far by an unwillingness on the part of small and midsize firms to implement the tools, which it says can be expensive.


Callidus Software (CallidusCloud) posted its highest score in depth of functionality (4.2). Of particular note, the company’s products “can handle complex plans” as “part of a robust suite of SPM capabilities,” notes Jim Dickie, cofounder and research director at CSO Insights. And while its scores for company direction were average, “Callidus’s investments in industry-leading capabilities accelerate time to value and reduce risk for customers,” says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research. Despite this, the company scored lowest in customer satisfaction (3.4). 

IBM (Varicent) received a solid depth of functionality score (3.7), with Dickie singling it out for its ability to handle “complex plans.” Big Blue’s greatest drawback, though, is in its company direction, an area where it managed a mediocre 3.0. At the moment, IBM is “challenged to execute on delivering across all of its software areas,” Wettemann points out. With regard to its Varicent product line, the company should have figured out its plans for it by now; it acquired Varicent in mid-2012. 

Microsoft stands out for its cost, an area in which it posted its best score (3.8). At the same time, though, its functionality in the SPM area is limited. The vendor “can do some compensation management with Dynamics AX,” though SPM is “not a core Dynamics strength,” Dickie says. 

While Salesforce.com does not include incentive management as part of its own CRM product line, it does benefit from integrations with quite a number of AppExchange partners that do, earning it a spot on this year’s leaderboard. Salesforce.com scored well in direction (3.7) and customer satisfaction (3.5). 


Xactly emerged as the SPM category winner this year. This is in spite of its recent acquisition by Vista Equity for $564 million. That acquisition makes its future direction (for which it nevertheless scored a strong 3.9) “less clear,” Dickie says. Still, “Xactly continues to invest in improving usability and flexibility while providing end-to-end performance and compensation management capabilities from plan and design to motivation,” Wettemann says. The company scored well across all judging criteria, but posted stand-out results in depth of functionality (4.2) and customer satisfaction (4.1).  —Oren Smilansky


NICE, though known more for its contact center, analytics, and fraud detection technologies, does offer incentive compensation and sales performance management solutions. Although these solutions have been available for a few years, this marks the first time the vendor has appeared among the market segment’s top vendors. Its software is equipped to support complex plans, though it has its limitations and takes longer to implement than other solutions, Dickie says. 

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues
Buyer's Guide Companies Mentioned