Once upon a time, the equation posed in sales was simple. Hiring more Account Executives meant more sales. However, today, the equation in sales is much more complex. As time has passed, new trends have emerged. Sales leaders need reimagined ways to sell.
The hottest topic in sales today is how to manage and integrate people, revenue, and automation. To address this issue, Sales Operations has now taken center stage. Sales Operations, as we know, enables sales productivity and unlocks sustainable growth. But how can you make your current sales operations processes better? That’s what I’m here to tell you.
Let us look at how to make Sales Operations smarter.
#1 Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” outlines this principle and its impact on a person when implemented. Imagine a water pipe that bursts. You don’t just tape the broken part and move on. Instead, you proactively address the core problem like high water pressure or an old rusted pipeline that needs replacement.
I read this book when I was 16 years old, and even today, I am amazed at how this principle works impeccably in Sales Operations. Ensuring a deeper understanding of your team and its performance enables you to identify gaps and shortcomings. For example, what roadblocks are keeping your salespeople from smashing their targets?
Make sure to periodically check your current processes and strategies to catch any minor or major issues that arise when implementing them. By proactively checking them, you will be able to see what needs to be improved or fixed. Chronic firefighting will only bleed your resources. Do not look for temporary fixes. Look for long term solutions that focus on sustainability that influences the success of your sales teams.
Tip: Be proactive instead of reactive in your communication with the sales teams in your company. If you see something that requires your immediate attention, then address it immediately. Create a space to discuss and identify what roadblocks or core problems are present and fix them.
#2 Outdated CRM and Data Decay Can Lead to Sales Death.
We live in a world where data rules all. Without up-to-date and accurate data in your arsenal, you are only going to lose the marathon that is sales productivity. Your CRM is your bread and butter for maintaining a healthy and robust relationship with your customers, focusing on customer retention, and driving sales growth.
However, data decay in your CRM can happen at lightning speeds. Business databases are said to degrade by around 30% per year, warranting continuous clean-up and enrichment of data. Regular data maintenance programs along with an authentic source of a data provider are necessary.
“Why?”, you ask? Well, because it can:
- Lead to wrong assumptions about companies (the software they were using, organizational hierarchy, or funding insights from a year ago aren’t accurate any longer)
- Lose old prospects that were considering renewing with you at a later time (people move to a different job all the while, and you need to both recognize that the decision-making authority for the purchase of your product has changed in that company, and also that the prospect’s new company might require your product/service)
Make sure your Sales Operations team stays on top of this and ensures that the data in your CRM is clean and accurate, always.
Tip: Using a B2B data provider such as Slintel will allow your sales teams to access detailed data packets for a superior understanding of their prospects and curate their outreach efforts in the right manner.
#3 Set Up a Dynamic Sales Forecasting Process
When I lived in New Jersey, the weather was so dynamic that I needed to look at the forecast to know how to dress for the day. Similarly, accurate forecasting is essential in sales operations. If you cannot effectively forecast sales, you cannot make any recommendations regarding your product supply or actions to optimize profitability. You might as well pilot the aircraft blindfolded.
An agile sales operations team needs to realize the importance of dynamic sales forecasting processes that use predictive data, historical data, and information from sellers/sales managers to pave the path for results. Not sure where to start? Check out this Introduction to Sales Forecasting from Bplans or the SaaS Brief blog to get more insights!
Tip: A couple of things that need to be kept in mind when doing sales forecasting are as follows:
- Always ensure that your sales teams are continuously updating the CRM and the data is periodically updated.
- Make the sales forecasting process as simple as possible. Making it time-consuming and difficult will ensure that your salespeople will not spend enough time or provide it the attention it deserves.
- Invest in the right forecasting tools. This may cost the company initial investment but in the long run, make it easier for sales teams to handle their workload. Use your CRM as your record for pipeline management. Implementing the use of spreadsheets becomes increasingly complex and the errors will start to pile up.
#4 Sales Tech Evaluation – Out with the old and in with the new
Evolution is part and parcel of life. Whether in Science or Sales, it is ever-present. Evolving markets and technology environments cause trouble when implemented without considering the mission and requirements of your company. Maintaining awareness of the latest technological advancement is a must.
One must spend time reading up on all the newest practices of sales operations. This will allow you to think of ways it can be implemented in your organization to ensure that your needs and requirements are met.
Consistent evaluation of your sales operations processes and sales tech every year allows you to introspect to see what is lacking or what can be improved to drive sales in your organization. This ensures that you are staying on top of things and will allow you to set up the optimized stage to achieve your desired goals. Once this stage is set-up, it frees up considerable time for the Sales Operations team to drive enhancement and sales productivity. Whatever piece of technology you pick, make sure it can be integrated flawlessly with your CRM.
Tip: If you are unsure of how your tech stack needs to be set up to optimize your sales processes, you can speak to your friends who work in different companies to see how they have set up their sales tech stack. Another way to set up your sales tech stack is to get a consultant on board if you are not a Sales Operations/Automation expert.
#5 Analytics and Reporting
How do you effectively predict the big picture without understanding the finer details at play? Let’s see what an excellent Sales Operations team does in terms of analytics and reporting.
In terms of numbers, Sales Operations teams should not only accurately report the sales numbers but should be able to interpret and provide actionable recommendations.
In terms of CRM management, Sales Operations teams should not manage the CRM just for maintenance purposes but always look for ways to improve the CRM to spearhead sales productivity.
In terms of campaign response, Sales Operations teams should not provide data reports and explain poor campaign performance after the campaign conclusion. Instead, it should continuously check on the campaign during its run. The Sales Operations team can then identify the problems during the campaign run and adjust the flight course. Correcting the issues during the campaign run will provide better results.
Sales Operations teams exist to make the work of the entire sales function as easy as possible. Optimize goals and deliverables in a manner that guarantees sales productivity and sustainable growth. Make sure to combine your arsenal of technology, people, and data to set up a Sales Operations team that works smarter and not harder. To deep-dive into this further, check out our ebook on Sales Intelligence: A Guide to Smart Selling.