An Incentive to Share

New cross-departmental database promises to drive better decision making and more efficient spending of sales incentive dollars

October 16, 2018
Data Sharing -- The pathway to more efficident sales incentive spending was mapped by a cross-departmental team, including (back row left to right) Tim Bliss, Ivan Yong, Chris Gunn, Lindsey Lee, Jason Whitmire and Tony Mueller, and (front row left to right) Brock Bayles and Dan Patten.

While the Incentives Reform Tiger Team took a big-picture approach to its mandate to raise TMNA’s game when it comes to promoting sales with incentives, it didn’t take long for specific initiatives to also come into focus.
 
Case in point: a digital tool that would provide self-service access to critical and timely incentives data across Toyota, Lexus, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) and the Regions.
 
“It came out of the very first brainstorming session,” says Brock Bayles, General Manager for TFS Sales, Product & Marketing Analytics. “Tim Bliss and John Kennelly with 1TC got us all in a room and we started white-boarding what we thought we needed to improve incentive spending.  The answer quickly surfaced.  For team members to optimize incentive spending decisions, they were going to need better and more timely information.”
 
It’s not that such information didn’t exist. The problem was that the pieces of the puzzle were scattered across the organization. As such, it often took up to 60 days to assemble them into a meaningful picture. By then, most of the company’s sales incentive programs — such as cash discounts, special lease deals and low-interest financing — had already run their course.
 
From Many Reports to One Tool
 
To help bring the pieces together, Bayles from TFS partnered with Ivan Yong, Toyota’s Senior Manager of Business Analytics, as well as key
members of the Toyota and Lexus Incentives teams.
 
“We didn’t have the level of granularity we needed to understand trends in the marketplace,” says Tony Mueller, Toyota’s General Manager of Marketing Strategy, Incentives and Finance. “We needed real-time information on the impact of the spending, by specific vehicle and specific area of the country. And we needed it all in one place. Under the existing system, we would have to pull from multiple different reports to try to formulate meaningful conclusions.”
 
Working closely with the incentives team, Bayles and Yong reached out to Dan Patten, sales, product and optimization manager with TFS — to help develop the tool. Patten led the effort to create a new silo-busting database fronted with a user-friendly graphical interface.
 
“The single best tool Toyota has ever made available!”

Within just 90 days of that original brainstorming session, the team had a working prototype of this tool to share with incentives managers. Their reaction: “This is the single best tool Toyota has ever made available!” and “When can we get it?”
 
As a bonus, the team pulled off this feat without the help of outside consultants.
 
“We have a lot of skills in-house,” says Yong. “Opportunities like this are allowing us to unleash that talent and get more out of the data that we already collectively own.”
 
Now that the tool is operational, the focus shifts to expanding access beyond Plano to the Regions — helping to arm Toyota’s incentives-related decision-makers with this new valuable asset. Bayles, though, believes the return on investment could be even more far-reaching than incentives.
 
“This is a very good example of team members coming together in the true spirit  of One Toyota to solve problems,” says Bayles. “Building enterprise-wide solutions like this serve as a catalyst to change the way we work together.”  Chris Gunn, Toyota’s Senior Manager of Incentives added, “The collaboration across the company has been phenomenal.  Instead of hitting the ball back and forth, we are finding ways to carry it together”.

By Dan Miller

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