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Online real estate media company Zillow Group acquired more than a dozen companies, established a presence in over 130 metro areas, and increased its revenue to over $1 billion in recent years. This dramatic growth made compensating the company’s sales employees very cumbersome. “Every month, things were more complex than they should have been,” recalls Karen Han, Director, Sales Finance. The Anaplan platform addressed that complexity, made compensation decisions proactive, and delivered information to help people manage and perform better.
Because employees now have data at their fingertips, they’re spending more of their valuable time doing what they do best: selling our products.Karen Han, Director, Sales Finance
minutes for some data updates that formerly happened weekly
modification of compensation plans
Zillow Group’s former compensation system—old, manual processes—couldn’t cut it. The pain was felt by sales managers, frontline workers, and across various departments. Performance was difficult to track and share, historical data and analysis was challenging to compile, and employee changes had to be manually entered in several places. As new products and verticals were rolled out, the inefficient processes simply couldn’t scale.
“We knew it was time to automate the process to make things run more smoothly,” said Karen Han, Director, Sales Finance.
Zillow Group committed to Anaplan for incentive compensation, and along with his team, Brandon Couch, Senior Analyst of Sales Finance, set to work. They created multiple models to manage compensation, engineered integration processes with company HRIS systems, and automated the display of pacing reports and goal-setting modules for sales employees. Han and Couch also developed detailed trainings and materials for different roles to reference.
A key cloud-to-cloud integration, managed with Boomi, is between Zillow’s Salesforce instance and its Anaplan Data Hub. Transaction data, entered and maintained in Salesforce, formerly was updated in Zillow’s plans weekly. Now it is updated every 20 minutes for some groups. Sales employees and sales managers can view their earnings and performance data in real time. Self-service dashboards instantly deliver information to stakeholders throughout the company. Pacing reports and goal-setting capabilities help sales employees plan ahead. The end results are happier and more productive employees and better insight for sales managers, while Han and Couch now spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on value-added activities.
“All interested parties are looking at the same data now,” Han explains. “Nobody on our team is spending their valuable time hunting down the correct numbers.”
To Han and Couch, any potential solution had to meet four requirements: collaboration, transparency, automation, and flexibility. Collaboration meant that stakeholders across Sales Leadership, Finance, HR, Analytics, and Sales Operations had a central source of actionable data that could be used to make quicker, better decisions. Transparency meant full access to current and historical data, with proper access controls. To satisfy the automation requirement, the new system had to accurately calculate all the various plan types, attach them to the right roles, and flow to all the right places. Flexibility meant the ability to support the pace of change and scale as the company grew. Only Anaplan met all four criteria.
Karen Han, Senior Manager, Sales Finance: Zillow Group is a media company that houses the largest real estate platform, both on mobile on web.
The sales finance team is responsible for variable compensation across all groups at Zillow. We also report on many metrics and support incentive compensation.
Brandon Couch, Senior Analyst, Sales Finance: In our company, the sales org is very, very dynamic. People are changing roles all the time.
What region you’re in, what manager you report to, what your title is determines how you get paid.
Before Anaplan, the transaction data came like three days after the month closed. And then we’d start calculating everything. And then a couple weeks after that, then we’d send out to our sales team.
Now with Anaplan we have, every 20 minutes, sales data running through the system and sales people looking and seeing where they’re pacing for the end of the month.
Karen Han: Pacing reports allow our managers to ultimately coach proactively. They can now see high performers, but also areas of opportunity that allows them to coach within the current performance period.
As we continued to grow, we needed to ensure that we streamlined our processes and also had data integrity. We needed a solution that would automatically calculate all of our various plans, roles, attach it to the right employee. also, any time we made a change within a model, for it to flow correctly to the right places.
Anaplan was the only platform that was able to integrate all our different platforms into one central place and allow for the flexibility we needed.
Brandon Couch: So, HR inputs people, title, manager, region, and then that flows through the entire system and pops out a correct payout for that person.
I really like having a new tool at my disposal. Before it’s like, “Well how do we, you know, make this Excel spreadsheet better?” And then I was like, “Well how do I build a cool Anaplan model to, you know, capture all this data?”
Karen Han: Because employees now have data at their fingertips that they can access at any time, they now are spending more of their valuable time doing what they do best, selling our products.