Sales operations teams juggle a variety of important responsibilities, from tools selection, training and knowledge management to process improvement, tracking metrics and generating reports.
As a result, sales operations teams often consist of highly capable people with broad skill sets. Yet many sales organizations fail to take advantage of this valuable resource because they tend to keep sales operations on the sidelines.
That’s not to say that sales operations should handle more of the sales team’s administrative functions. Others in the organization are more appropriate for support tasks such as scheduling sales meetings and checking orders.
To provide the most relevant support and coherent recommendations, sales ops need to interact regularly with the sales team. By spending time with the sales team, sales ops gains firsthand knowledge of how reps work with customers, the kinds of questions customers ask and so on. This helps them see the sales process from the reps’ perspective as they work on their own projects.
Here are five ways to improve by bringing sales ops into your process:
1) Targeted accounts: The sales ops team is in a great position to assist the sales organization in identifying target accounts in each territory, down to the individual rep’s level. Sales ops has the know-how to define the coverage model and use data to prioritize opportunities.
2) Targeted products: Ask sales ops to help identify product opportunities, and feed that information to sales and marketing. This helps marketing put together programs to take advantage of those product opportunities. Combining targeted products and targeted accounts is a powerful way to drive sales uplift and margin gains.
3) Sales rep “buddy system”: Pairing sales operations people with specific reps is a powerful way to increase revenue and margins. The two then work together to create detailed plans for each account.
It’s unlikely that you’d have enough sales ops people for a 1:1 ratio with reps, so you need to allocate them in some fashion. For example, you might choose to have sales ops work alongside lower-performing reps as a means to improve their numbers. Alternately, if you’re in a situation with a tight grouping, you could have sales ops work with your top reps in order to magnify the results and get quantum leaps in performance.
4) Innovation incubator: No group or individual has a monopoly on good ideas, so look for ways to create an environment that inspires and motivates sales ops and reps. This kind of culture gives momentum to all of your improvements.
Sales ops has a great line of sight to changes that are coming within the company and within the larger marketplace. To increase sales, have sales ops formally identify one to two key new ideas to work on, such as customer retention programs, customer flight risk programs and competitor account attack plans.
5) Agreements and contracts: At many organizations, the legal team has every intention to support the business, but it must protect the company from itself and from risk. This tends to create obstacles in the sales process, such as delays over non-disclosure agreements, and may give prospects and customers the impression that it’s difficult to do business with you. In all customer interactions, you want to be the easiest company to work with, and sales ops is well-positioned to streamline interactions with legal.
All of these strategies provide value, but you might want to start with creating an environment for incubating innovation. It sends the message that you see sales operations as experienced, capable people, and you need their help in identifying opportunities to drive the business. This culture helps inspire and energize your team, unleashing their latent potential.