In the most general sense, the purpose of Sales Operations is to manage operations smoothly and improve the efficiency of the sales team.
Only about 20% of the average sales teams are composed of top reps who often meet or exceed quota, leaving a majority of the sales team with room for improvement. With this in mind, Sales Operations, therefore, has a strategic role in identifying, proposing and championing new technologies that will improve the productivity of the sales team and drive revenue growth. Productivity is the amount of value produced, divided by the number of resources (such as effort, cost and time) consumed.
Today there is a shift in the role of Sales Ops where it’s not just about managing tasks but optimizing tasks. This blog looks at how Sales Ops can improve the sales process and leverage technology to help drive revenue growth and improve productivity.
Nail Down the Sales Process and Continually Optimize
When steps in the sales process are unclear, or there is a lack of a structured sales process, it’s difficult to optimize sales and have a high-performing Sales Ops team. Sales leadership should be actively involved in defining the sales process, including all the sales stages (lead and opportunity, qualified, etc), but it is the responsibility of Sales Ops to take active ownership to build, maintain, and improve how well the process plays out in the company’s CRM system.
One of the main objectives is to continually analyze and optimize the sales process, understand where it typically breaks down and how certain process stages can be improved. To measure activity, improvement and issues, organizations need to choose the right KPIs that will align with company strategies and priorities.
Choose the Right KPIs
To analyze sales performance, the right key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be tracked that will monitor productivity, growth and align with the company’s strategic objectives. Some key KPIs to track include:
- Conversion rates, including stage-by-stage conversion rate and overall conversion rate
- Survivorship rate
- Revenue per Sales Rep
- Leading indicators such as numbers of leads, days to qualify, total days in sales cycle, number of leads qualified
- Lagging indicators such as proposal to win ratio, average deal size, total sales count
Some of the indicators, such as the leading indicators will help evaluate productivity and the other KPIs will help Sales Ops measure how effective a salesperson is and whether or not they are meeting targets and closing deals, which drives growth. Measurement of effectiveness often includes comparisons across teams and across different periods of time.
Use the Data to Keep a Strong Focus on Strategy and Planning
Sales Ops is involved in all areas of sales and understands the company’s strategies and priorities which are then translated to performance indicators such as the KPIs listed above and are tracked via dashboards and scorecards using some type of sales enablement technology. The performance indicators that are tracked move the organization closer to its strategic goals because they have already been aligned with the strategic goals.
Who is our top performer? Who has the lowest conversion rates? Which stage do we see the most prospects dropping out? Sales analytics answers these questions, Sales Ops leaders will take this information and make proactive choices with the data.
Leverage Evolving Technology and Tools Integration
The pressure of meeting quarterly targets means that the sales team doesn’t always have the time to investigate new technologies, even when they are clearly needed. Sales Ops are their trusted partner and can be relied on to bring forward solutions that will have a real business impact. Sales tools need to be able to integrate and connect to other business tools and processes, and the tools in place need to be cost-effective and bring in measurable ROI. All of this comes down the same goal: drive growth and improve productivity.
Use Sales Enablement Tools to Get Back to Core Selling
Sales reps only spend one-third of their time on actual selling, which means the other two-thirds are often spent on manual tasks and non-revenue generating activities. Examples of some manual tasks include sending emails, making phone calls, updating spreadsheets and the CRM. Sales enablement technology can be used to automate manual and repetitive tasks and enhance the productivity of individual salespeople. Measure how sales teams and individual sellers adopt new sales enablement technology (or don’t adopt) against stated goals to understand whether there is a measurable ROI.
Enable the Entire Team to go Mobile
IDC reports that by 2020 mobile workers will account for nearly three-quarters (72.3 percent) of the U.S. workforce. It’s a mistake to treat mobile as an afterthought if an organization is looking for productivity gains. Mobile technologies help organizations shorten sales cycles, increase productivity, promote information exchange between sales and service, and transform customer interactions. In fact, according to a Forrester Research Survey, mobile CRM leads to 74% increase in customer satisfaction and 84% increase in sales and employee productivity.
Salespeople are always on the move and need apps that ensure instant access to key information about clients and prospects, and it gives your sales team a practical and powerful tool to use in the field.
Investing in the right technology to improve productivity will be a challenge for Sales Ops in 2018. Sirius Decisions analysts recommend Sales Ops leaders “conduct an annual technology assessment to maximize the value of past and current technology investments and guide future investments in solutions, process improvements and skill enhancements.” These assessments should be performed with the company’s strategic goals and the sale team’s interests in mind.
Don’t Let Sales Ops Sit on the Sidelines: Build a World-Class Team
As noted by McKinsey,
“Companies that build world-class sales-operations functions can realize one-time improvements of 20 to 30 percent in sales productivity, with sustained annual increases as high as 5 to 10 percent in some cases…World-class sales-operations teams consistently achieve budget, quota, and forecast while maintaining healthy pipelines. They proactively engage with sales managers and sellers to understand deal status and recommend actions to increase deal values, accelerate opportunities through the sales cycle, or improve win rates. And they maintain a tight focus on resource optimization, making the attraction, development, and retention of key talent a priority.”
To have the best high-performing sales team, they also need to learn from the best.
In world-class organizations Sales Ops are influential in leadership roles and often run weekly, monthly and quarterly pipeline, forecast and business reviews to hold peers accountable for delivering against targets and commitments.
Final Thoughts: Make Sure Sales Ops Have the Data and Technology They Need
With the growing demand for data analytics, Sales Ops have become an even more important ingredient for sales success. Planning and strategy are critical for any Sales Ops team, but the right data and the right technology are necessary to do their job effectively. It is extremely difficult, near impossible, to successfully manage a modern sales process using antiquated systems and in-house solutions that over time have been supplemented with manual processes. In this situation, Sales Ops is forced to spend most of their time on reactive operational tasks rather than proactive strategic planning.
The right data and technology solution will give Sales Ops the breathing room to plan ahead, drive improvements, and transform processes that will drive revenue growth and increase productivity. Vortini eliminates manual processes such as filling in spreadsheets, cuts down the forecasting process to half the amount of time and offers advanced analytics to improve sales effectiveness. Contact us today to learn more about how to drive revenue growth and improve salesperson productivity with Vortini.
Jess is a communications professional and Vortini’s lead content/web developer. Her current interests lie in the intersection of sales technology and machine learning. In her free time she reads a book-a-week, practices yoga, and is an avid gardener.