Sales quotas align with business objectives in a changing marketplace

Moving to revenue-based, multi-factor quotas helps align sales with business objectives in a changing market

Cox Automotive, which enables the sale of over seven million vehicles annually through Manheim and provides a variety of automotive products, services, software solutions, and media through 20+ other brands, wanted to build multi-factor, revenue-based sales quotas to drive salesperson behavior. With Anaplan, quotas are now based on a dozen components (up from just two), targets can be realigned quickly as markets change, and finance and sales teams view performance through the same lens.

For us to set revenue targets, we needed a tool like Anaplan. There’s no way around it.

Phillip Etefia, Director of Quota & Performance Improvement

Cox Automotive enables the sale of over seven million vehicles annually in the U.S. through its 111 physical, digital, and mobile auction sites, media such as Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com, and software solutions for auto dealers. It also has the inside track on changes in the automotive marketplace, like millennials preferring car-sharing over ownership, drivers keeping their vehicles longer, the shrinking wholesale market, and data-powered car shoppers who drive smaller dealer margins.

To steer through these changes, Cox Automotive is retooling its sales operations, including the quotas assigned to its 1,500+ salespeople. Quotas for Manheim, Cox Automotive’s auction business, had been based on sales volume—the sheer number of vehicles bought or sold, whether they cost $500 or $50,000—and didn’t reward sales of ancillary services, such as inspections and detailing, that could boost a car’s sales price. Instead, Cox Automotive wanted quotas based on sales and services revenue to drive desired behaviors. “Our sales team is smart,” says Phillip Etefia, Director of Quota & Performance Improvement at Cox Automotive. “They focus most of their energy on things they’re compensated for.”

But creating a multi-factor, revenue-based quota model across eight markets in the U.S. required more horsepower than Cox Automotive’s existing tools could provide. “We’d build a spreadsheet, but it was so large it took 10 minutes just to email,” Etefia recalls. Worse, it lacked trend data and details showing the why behind the targets. “We needed a methodology that was error-free, fair, and consistent across all sales markets.”

He and his team built that methodology in Anaplan. “With Anaplan, we can compensate our inventory salespeople for all revenue generated from a vehicle,” Etefia explains. “And sales leaders can see trends for each quota component by client, location, and week, based on a rolling 12-month analysis.” That methodology includes an innovative “day shift index” that uses Anaplan’s advanced modeling capabilities to normalize calendars from year to year to make analysis more precise.

“With everybody on a revenue-based plan, we’re seeing more revenue and better margins,” Etefia says. “And the sales team is better aligned with finance because we’re focused on the bottom line and aligned with opportunities.” For example, if finance determines midyear that one part of the business has more opportunities than another, sales can quickly pivot and revise targets rather than follow a months-old plan.

With revenue-based quotas up and running, the Cox Automotive sales operations team is looking for more ways to deepen their connection with finance and gain more buy-in from sales. Through the power of Connected Planning with Anaplan, sales leaders now have the ability to make net-neutral quota adjustments for their group of territories each period. Allowing sales adjustments helps to build accountability and gain insight from direct-level managers. “This will let us stay close to trends and align quotas to the financial obligations of the business,” Etefia explains. “Because for us to set revenue targets, we needed a tool like Anaplan. There’s no way around it.”