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Recipe for an Accelerated Sales Pipeline (Part 3 of a 3 Part Series)

Sales Operations

Overview

In the previous two blogs of this three part series, we talked about the importance of aligning the objectives and roles of sales management, sales representatives and sales operations in order tomeet the aggressive sales targets set by the Board of Directors and CEO. The third and final part of this blog series talks about sales operations’ role and the solution they need to implement for ensuring an efficient and effective sales process.

Part 3: Sales Operation’s role in the Accelerated Pipeline Recipe

Sales Operations Role

I’ve worked with great sales operations teams at Host Analytics, Gainsight and now TopOPPS. These teams have been responsible for making the business activities and processes of a sales organization run effectively and efficiently as well as support the business strategies and objectives. They have grown to know the process so well that some of the best suggestions for improvement came from them. As a result, we have seen great sales enablement, day-to-day optics and detailed information about our deals.

The challenge they had to produce that kind of output was the number of hours they had to put in. An additional problem was that we wasted the intelligence they could provide to produce insights by having them spend too much time within the business. We had them doing several one-off reports and putting out fires. They had a regular backlog of reports and projects burdening them, which diminished their ability to provide valuable input with the management team.

Sales operations could be much more effective and help the sales organization deliver on their numbers if they could overcome these challenges of being swallowed up by business. They need to work more on the business by making sure sales reps are adopting new best practices, helping management monitor the right metrics and provide valuable insights on process and activity within deals. This would result in a much more competitive organization and add to the predictability of the forecasted numbers.

What Operations needs to implement

Mobile, Intelligent and Prompted

Operations can overcome their challenges of time constraints and fully support the sales function by implementing a complete automated workflow solution designed around the sales process. The goal for them is to free them, allow them to create valuable reports easily as well as analyze reports to provide valuable insights based on their significant experience in understanding their organizations process.

This solution should first solve the problem of getting valuable and fresh information into the CRM, especially the opportunities that are being worked. Implementing a mobile solution is the best way to do this - but the mobile system has to allow a sales representative to run his business from his mobile phone. It has to be super easy and purpose built for the most important feedback required by management - pipeline updates. In addition, they need a simple and quick way to update competition, products being offered, and market information along the way of the sales cycle. Just providing a mobile interface to the CRM won’t work - it has to have intelligence to understand a simple thumb click of a button and provide reminders to sales reps of opportunities that require a check-in. This is super important because if management implements an advanced analytics solution, but doesn’t have this information to analyze, it becomes useless and a waste of time.

The Bubble Up Factor

Once Sales Operations implements a solution to help with CRM updates by sales reps, it has to provide a solution to utilize these data points. A living, breathing pipeline control panel should be implemented to replace the old pipeline report.

These optics should go much further beyond the old traditional way of reporting deals by stage. They should do that, but also show each deal within that stage by its health, having the best prominently displayed on top, and as activity happens it would continuously move further up,or be pushed to the bottom.

Optics need to display deals that are the very best based on what “just happened” and comparing that to history.

A good system should make it easy for ongoing learning of the operation and point out the best deals to commit to the forecast, as well as which will require assistance and resources.

A good automated workflow solution should support sales operations, sales management and the sales rep. Arming the sales team with this kind of solution is an absolute must to gain the edge Sales needs to drive deals through the pipeline quicker and support the forecasted number. This will inevitably enable the organization to compete at a market leading level.

Jim Eberlin