Nolan Transportation Group (NTG) is part of Transportation Insight Holding Company (TI), an industry-leading logistics provider with more than 14,000 shippers and 80,000 carriers that handle logistics from port to porch.
Before implementing CaptivateIQ, the compensation team at NTG calculated commissions manually in spreadsheets using homegrown logic. Any data the team needed from its external data sources such as their Workday HRIS systems demanded a timely, tedious process of initiating a request and waiting on delivery of the reports. In addition, brokers lacked visibility into their own commission statuses and had to wait days – sometimes even weeks – to get their inquiries answered by the accounting team over email.
With the help of CaptivateIQ, NTG reduced the time needed to produce commission and title progression reporting from three weeks to one automated update per day, accomplished via a data sync with multiple sources and aggregated in comprehensive dashboards and statements in CaptivateIQ. This offers brokers full transparency and visibility into their commission payouts in a shorter time frame, helping them use incentives to prioritize the right activities and improve NTG’s bottom line.
Tatiana Silverman, Director of Compensation & HRIS, leads the compensation team at Nolan Transportation Group (NTG), a leading provider of non-asset tech-enabled enterprise logistics and freight brokerage solutions in North America.
This story is about how Tatiana and her team implemented CaptivateIQ to manage sales compensation and payouts for her team of over 1000 brokers, account managers, and sales leaders, gaining agility and control over their commissions data in the process.
While Tatiana and her team managed commissions out of spreadsheets, there were several challenges that came with this manual process.
To say manual calculations were tedious for the analysts – who had to pull disparate data from numerous systems (TMS, CRM, HRIS, etc) to build out the full commissions picture each month – would be an understatement. And while they could see there was plenty of room for improvement, making changes to existing compensation plans meant reliance on their internal data team, which proved to be a bottleneck.
When I joined, we did not have a centralized system in place for calculating commissions. Some information was in Workday, much of it was in spreadsheets, some in databases – and when we had to change our logic, we’d have to load the data through CSV files. Because we didn’t have time to rely on the data team to make changes for us, we would just load the data ourselves and calculate the results manually.
Having analysts spend hours, sometimes days, crunching data in spreadsheets was not only an inefficient use of time, it also prevented Tatiana’s team from being able to easily share data with other teams, including the sales and finance organizations. Brokers waited to find out what they would be paid in the current period against the commission plan, becoming frustrated with the lack of real-time visibility, while at the same time, strategic leaders across the business didn’t have the means to analyze commission and performance data to more effectively incentivize and motivate behaviors.
As Tatiana put it:
Everyone was frustrated, and there’s a high opportunity cost for sellers in not knowing exactly where revenue might be coming from. This means they may not be optimizing their efforts where they can be most productive.
All of the delays made it challenging for brokers to gain trust and clarity from Tatiana’s team when it came to their compensation plans, limiting not only their understanding of how their plans translated to take-home pay, but also their ability to make the most of the incentives in place to drive the most optimal business outcomes.
After facing so many challenges with the in-house commission solution, it was decided enough was enough, and the NTG team went to market to identify incentive compensation management vendors who could solve their pain. While the decision committee also considered Xactly and Varicent, they ultimately landed on CaptivateIQ for its ease of use, speed, and superior transparency into calculations and data.
Right from the start, the implementation was quick and seamless – "We were able to go live with our plans in just 1.5 months," shared Tatiana – and once they were set up in CaptivateIQ, the team found that building a variety of dashboards has been incredibly rewarding and valuable.
As we got up and running in the system, we started building dashboards left and right – it's sort of my passion now. With our average attainment, manager and sales competition dashboards, our brokers have the visibility they need to track their success throughout the month.
The dashboards allow brokers to track how they’re performing against their goals for sales competitions, spiffs, and more, helping the NTG team incentivize the selling behaviors and outcomes that drive business success. Managers also benefit from the dashboards, now easily accessing insights into how their teams are performing with just a few clicks.
I find the new title dashboard very helpful and it is nice for us (and our brokers) to be able to get that live look at where they are and what they need for their next promotion, rather than waiting on the Excel to come over once a month like it used to be before CaptivateIQ. — Bailey Hudgins, Assistant General Manager, Customer Operations
Tatiana shared the three main dashboards they use to track performance are attainment dashboards for sellers, management dashboards, and sales competition dashboards for one-off competitions or SPIFs.
And we plan to do more with leaderboards. Salespeople love to see how they are trending versus others and management is always looking for more opportunities for coaching.
CaptivateIQ was also easy for Tatiana’s team to learn and pick up:
We started a new analyst who had never used any kind of compensation system before, and she was totally productive after a quick training in just 3 days; in fact, she now is one of our experts at building out dashboards.
This reduced learning curve has been incredibly valuable for Tatiana’s team, as they’re able to see the ROI of the tool much more quickly.
In addition, with the intuitive nature of CaptivateIQ's platform, the NTG team can make changes to their plan logic all on their own, saving time and increasing confidence in their calculations. Furthermore, this control over their compensation program helps the team be more agile in responding to the business or to innovate its own ideas
If we need to make last-minute changes or there is a late-breaking development, we don’t have to go to another department and ask for them to configure that in the system. We can do it ourselves, and if we need help from CaptivateIQ, they’re always there to swoop in.
Since adopting CaptivateIQ, Tatiana’s team has been much more productive, while also making sellers and managers happier with the introduction of easy-to-use dashboards. Now, everyone who touches sales compensation is on the same page, accessing the data they need when they need it and customizing their reporting to focus on the insights that best serve their role for the business.
By consolidating all of the compensation data that was previously scattered across an array of disparate systems, applications, spreadsheets, and teams into one unified platform, the NTG team is now saving 2-3 hours a day by automating commissions calculations and dashboard creation, remaining agile and retaining ownership throughout compensation workflows, and building more trust with sellers in the process. With CaptivateIQ, NTG’s compensation team is seeing the benefits of owning their data with reduced reliance on data engineering. With all they need now at their fingertips, compensation analysts are not only getting answers in minutes instead of days – they’re also able to ask and gain even more of their data.
CaptivateIQ has helped us become a more agile compensation team. We can now implement our own changes to the compensation plan and are more likely to tweak things or make small improvements knowing we don’t have to involve data engineering. Using this system has made it more feasible to roll out small changes incrementally without investing a lot of time.
NTG now has a single, unified view into all compensation data. This allows the compensation team to offer sellers a direct, self-service way to view their own compensation information, whenever they need, instead of just at the end of pay periods. In addition to building trust with sellers, CaptivateIQ has helped NTG’s compensation team drive better understanding of the company’s compensation plans. With real-time access into commission information powered by CaptivateIQ's SmartGrid calculation engine, sellers can rely on CaptivateIQ to see what activities they need to prioritize to bring in revenue and realize commissions.
The adoption of CaptivateIQ has dramatically improved NTG’s alignment of compensation data across sales, finance and HR. CaptivateIQ integrates with NTG’s instance of Workday for a streamlined approach to working with their HRIS data, making it easy to bring in reports when needed and share those out to finance or HR.
Analysts have more time to focus on strategic efforts since the tide of inquiries coming to them from salespeople has ebbed. Their productivity is boosted by not having to spend time interacting with the data team for things they can now control directly in CaptivateIQ.
It’s been great to have that autonomy. When we are asked a question, whether by sales or by management wanting to know something about compensation, we are more empowered to get the answer ourselves and have confidence in those answers because it’s our system.
Instead of surfacing data once per month, NTG is now leveraging CaptivateIQ to share performance data with brokers and their managers via easy-to-access reports and dashboards so that they can track their progress on a daily basis.
In CaptivateIQ, sellers can see the transactions they are paid on and the ones that are not credited to them. They can then download statement detail and take action on transactions they can still cover and receive payment on. Not only does this help reps understand what to focus on to receive credit, it also helps the company ensure we are covering transactions that otherwise might have been left out.
Brokers can now see, in real time, how they are performing in a given month or quarter, and have a clearer understanding of what activities to focus on in order to bring in more revenue and higher payouts.
They can see right in the system, here’s what they can do to be more successful next month. CaptivateIQ helps to incentivize behaviors that help the business. The increased visibility means that sellers will act more as desired to produce efficient revenue growth.
Perhaps most importantly, sellers are now able to answer their compensation questions with ease and have come to trust the data, building the positive habit of engaging with CaptivateIQ as a trusted go-to for everything commissions.
Reps who are active in CaptivateIQ tend to be more successful. The best illustration of the ROI of CaptivateIQ is the impact on revenue.
NTG has gained unparalleled agility with CaptivateIQ as well, which enables their compensation team to remain on top of any changes that their leadership team is looking for.
If you need to make any change with CIQ, or you're rolling out some kind of SPIF for a quarter, you don’t have to go to IT and ask them to configure it. You can do it yourself and adjust your statements.
Beyond all of these improvements, the success with CaptivateIQ has opened up space expanded roles and responsibilities at NTG:
I was first tasked with taking over the commissions process, and then handed the broad base compensation as well. Then, after the success with CaptivateIQ, we inherited the Workday system, and now I oversee pretty much all the HR technology.
Maybe even more important for Tatiana and her team, it also inspired more recognition of their contributions to the business:
My team has received a lot of recognition – it's a thankless job as we always say, comp administration. But now, reps do reach out to us to say ‘thank you’, and a lot of them sometimes offer words of appreciation, just for getting their commissions right.
First, I would encourage anyone managing compensation plans to sit down with CaptivateIQ’s data architect and get that support in configuring your plan.You gain peace of mind when you have greater visibility into the apps you depend on to do your job; CaptivateIQ empowers our admins to own and manage the process.
This tool is worth consideration because it leverages what most comp admins already know, which is Excel, and if you know Excel, CaptivateIQ is really intuitive. The syntax is Excel-friendly and you can become self-sufficient in a very short time. I would recommend looking into CaptivateIQ. If you want to give more peace of mind to your reps & visibility, and empower your admins to manage & own the process, this is the tool to consider.