Talking to an Unrelenting Cloud Enthusiast - Part 1

During my several years of attending events organized by the cloud computing evangelist, such as Dreamforce and Cloudforce, Xactly Corporation has always had a prominent stand at the expo floor (another fixture at these events has been BigMachines, and not surprisingly the two vendors are close partners). In a nutshell, Xactly’s on-demand software lets sales professionals know, well, exactly what they are getting out of their sales wins.

The company's flagship software, Xactly Incent, helps sales representatives and other sales professionals determine compensation for sales transactions. Additionally, sales executives can use the company's analytics software to analyze post-sales information such as what, where, and to whom their product lines have been sold and how profitably.

Meet Chris Cabrera

Finally, after all these years, I was recently able to talk at leisure to Xactly’s founder and CEO Christopher Cabrera. Cabrera is a seasoned executive with more than two decades of successful senior management experience at both early-stage and established public companies. At these companies, he has managed sales, marketing, operations, and business development.

Prior to founding Xactly Corporation, Cabrera was the senior vice president of operations for Callidus Software, an on-premise enterprise incentive & compensation management (I&CM) company at the time (Callidus has meanwhile embraced the cloud software delivery). At Callidus, he was responsible for the execution of worldwide sales and marketing strategies, customer advocacy, and strategic alliances with companies such as IBM, Accenture, and Deloitte. Under his leadership, the company acquired more than 100 customers, contributing to the growth of annual revenues from zero to greater than $75 million, and a successful initial public offering (IPO) in 2003 raising more than $70 million.

Enter Xactly Corporation

During his Callidus tenure, Cabrera saw how prohibitive the cost of on-premise sales performance management (SPM) applications like Callidus TrueComp really were.  He left Callidus in 2005 and founded Xactly – the industry’s first and only provider of fully multi-tenant, software as a service (SaaS)-based solutions for SPM.  This really opened the door for companies of all sizes to not only automate the management of compensation, but also begin using it more strategically to modify sales behaviors and improve results.

Since its founding, all of Xactly’s major business decisions and innovations have been squarely focused on improving compensation initiatives for its customers. In 2009, the vendor acquired its direct competitor, Centive Systems, adding new technology, talent, and customers to its portfolio.

Xactly’s main products are Xactly Express and Xactly Incent. The aforementioned Xactly Incent is the enterprise level product generally designed for companies with more than 100 sales reps. With Xactly Incent, companies can add the following several sales performance modules: Analytics, Modeling, Territories, Sandbox, eDocs & Approvals, Delta, and Views. Analytics, which enables businesses to slice and dice the so-called Big Data that results from calculating compensation, is one of the most popular modules. However, Xactly is finding that the time-saving benefits of eDocs & Approvals, which tracks comp plan approvals, and Sandbox, which creates a space for plan testing, are increasingly attractive to enterprise businesses.

For its part, Xactly Express is the small to medium business (SMB) product specifically designed for companies with less than 100 reps. Xactly has made it really easy-to-use, so it doesn’t require any additional modules. Because this portion of the market is relatively underserved, and SMB’s struggle to incent right using outdated tools like spreadsheets, this is a quickly growing market for the vendor. Recently, Xactly introduced the Xactly Express Plan Store, enabling customers with little to no comp experience to literally drag and drop the compensation plans they need into their instance. The vendor also launched Xactly Express for the Apple iPad so reps can easily see how they are doing on a native iPad app.

Xactly Users

Simply put, Xactly really believes that any business can incent right and benefit from its products. Every business must sell something in order to exist, and Xactly can make that process more efficient and productive.  Xactly has more than 450 customers today that span a very broad range of sizes and industries and include world-class brands such as American Express, Blackboard, Cablevision, LinkedIn, NBC Universal, PayPal,, and MidSouth Bank. The company’s customers have sales teams from 10 reps to thousands of reps. So, as far as Xactly’s “sweet spot” is concerned, it’s any company who is incenting between 10 and 5,000 folks.

As noted above, the vendor has seen tremendous growth and adoption for Xactly Express, which was built on’s platform as a service (PaaS).  Already, it has over 200 small to emerging businesses using the offering.  This product was designed from the ground up with SMBs in mind – so it is extremely easy and intuitive to use – even for customers with little or no experience managing compensation.

In addition, Xactly Express can be up and running in a matter of hours to days, with no costly hardware or implementation requirements. Xactly has customers with as few as two sales reps, up to 120 sales reps using the solution to improve operational and sales efficiency. This product has been touted as a game changer for Xactly and its customers. This quarter alone the vendor expects to sign more than 40 new customers.

Notable Partner Ecosystem

Xactly sells its products worldwide, with support available 24/7. Xactly Incent can make payments in over 50 currencies (90 percent of Xactly customers use more than one currency) and supports 18 languages.  About 25 percent of Xactly users are outside of the United States (US). The company has offices throughout the US, the United Kingdom (UK), and India, and its total employee headcount is over 200.

Xactly sells directly and through its extensive partner ecosystem. The company has a very aggressive partnering program designed to ensure that it delivers and supports its solutions around the globe, integrating into all necessary systems and processes. Recent partnerships with Microsoft and Intuit should open even more markets to Xactly, and could be a source of significant growth opportunities for the firm. Xactly’s partner ecosystem includes the following groups:

  • Channel:, Intuit, Microsoft, and Oracle

  • Applications by independent software vendors (ISV’s): BigMachines, ChannelInsight, Docusign,, FPX, Mapping Analytics, Workday, ZS Associates

  • Consulting: Mercer, ZS Associates, Chally Group, Compensation Analytics, CompStreet, The Cygnal Group, NewSigma, WilsonGroup, Salesglobe, and SellingPower among others

  • Implementation: ZS Associates, Astadia, CSC, Compensation Analytics, Open Symmetry, and Solutions Partner Inc.

  • Data Integration: Pervasive Software, Informatica, and Scribe

  • International Partners: Cloud Computing America (South America), Fluido (Finland), Fremont Consultants (France), Nefos (Switzerland), Radiansc0re (UK), Saleswax (Belgium), Sana Group (Israel), Sqware Peg (Australia).

  • System Integrators: Axxis, BlackIron Group, CloudTrigger, Configuro, Force by Design, SaaS Solutions, Silverline, Traction, and Vertiba

Part 2 of this series will feature my in-depth discussion with Chris Cabrera. Your comments, thoughts, suggestions or individual experiences with Xactly’s products are welcome in the meantime.
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