Top-Shelf Tip No. 084:

"Nothing ever happens until somebody sells something."

Red Motley

A New Way To Optimize Your Sales Process

I had a meeting recently with a vice president of sales operations. This is a fairly new title in most organizations but the role of sales operations is becoming more and more popular. What is it and how does this role interact with traditional sales responsibilities? Learn more in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Because the sales operations professional is a fairly new role, most companies are still trying to figure it out. The ideal role for sales operations is to guide the sales team by developing a structured sales process, analyzing sales performance within the framework of that process and implementing solutions based on the results of their analysis. Those in this role have to start with high-level, strategic findings, and learn how to convert them into frontline enablement that helps sales reps, managers and VPs to hit their numbers.

The sales operations position has to focus on three key steps to solidify its role within the sales team and optimize the company's sales process.

1. Improve Conversion Rates. Conversion rates serve as a roadmap for how to improve sales. Sales enablement has to be targeted to a specific problem to be effective, so understanding where the greatest inefficiencies are in the selling process is the first step to solving them.

Conversion rates are the most direct measure of a sales team's efficiency—they show the percentage of opportunities that move from one stage of the selling process to the next (which is also why they're a CEO's favorite metrics).

2. Shorten The Sales Cycle. If you don't measure it, you can't manage it. This adage is especially true for sales cycles. Managing the sales cycle is a matter of breaking it down into its individual parts and shaving days off of the most inefficient sections.

Shortening the sales cycle may mean implementing a new tool that streamlines the selling process, training reps to manage opportunities more effectively or even cutting out a step altogether.

Regardless of the ultimate solution, the long-term resolution of the problem hinges on the sales operations team's ability to perform the analysis that exposes the most glaring inefficiencies in the process. Once those weaknesses have been identified, those in sales operations can roll up their sleeves alongside the sales managers and work together to implement solutions that move deals through the funnel more quickly.

3. Maximize Win Factors. Managers are too busy coaching and selling to spend time crunching numbers, so it's up to sales operations to provide managers with the hard data they need to manage effectively. When the sales team is small, good managers can use their intuition to identify each rep's strengths and weaknesses. However, as your team scales, it becomes harder and harder to learn the nuances of each rep's approach.

By calculating each rep's win rates for opportunities of different sizes, for different products and any other relevant variable, sales operations helps to strengthen the sales team as a whole by revealing which opportunities reps are most likely to win.

This information is gold for VPs and managers, as they can break the sales organization into specialized teams to zero in on specific-use cases for your product. Pulling the curtain back on strengths and weaknesses within the selling process also provides the sales operations team with more detail about where sales enablement projects will have the most impact. Intelligent management and laser-focused sales enablement are truly the foundation for an optimized sales process.

Source: Colin Fong is a content marketing associate at InsightSquared, where he provides regular contributions to the blog and produces long-form content.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson


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