The latest State of Sales report reveals 85% of sales professionals agree sales ops is becoming increasingly strategic. You need only look at the REA Group’s success story to see why.

Two years ago, the management team at REA Group, Australia’s number one property platform, decided it was time to take a journey of powerful and purposeful digital transformation. The business was fast expanding into new markets, organically and by acquisition. Its legacy systems were not designed to cope with the increasing expectations of a market demanding seamless, real-time individualisation and meaningful, relevant connection.

To grow at pace but still be nimble enough to defend its position at the top, REA Group required the forward vision, insight and trend-spotting capabilities offered by data analytics.

REA Group brought on board a Salesforce suite, including Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Data Management Platform (DMP), CPQ, Tableau and more to make its data-driven vision a reality. Vitally, this united data front allowed for the formation of a single point of truth for every customer, one that was available across the organisation, rather than being held in siloed departments and acquired businesses.

The REA Group journey to its digitally dominant position today as an organisation that changes the way the world experiences property – a company that refers to itself as “a leading global digital business specialising in property” – is a perfect case study for numerous data points that came out of the fourth edition of the State of Sales report.

Sales ops fuels organisational growth

For example, 89% of sales professionals said sales ops plays a critical role in growing the business. Clearly, sales ops played a lead role in REA Group’s development of a single point of truth for each customer.

“There’s a lot of work that the sales ops team has done in collaboration to create that single point of truth,” says Rodney House, REA Group’s Sales Adoption Lead: Customer Excellence. “That data is used to drive the business of the account managers within our business.”

“The biggest thing our Chief Sales Officer wants is for our sales team to see our customers more often but, when they do, for them to have a better-quality conversation. So actually, it’s about quality and quantity at once – he wants more shots on goal and more of those shots to go in.”

That’s not possible without a single point of data truth, Rodney says.

The sales professionals who go out and speak to the market, he explains, are the engine of the organisation. The Salesforce system, and the data and insights it provides, makes that engine run far more efficiently and much faster.

“We can see now in real time whether we are having more conversations quarter-on-quarter, as well as whether those conversations are driving value,” Rodney says. “Those are statistics that would never have been known around the organisation before.”

Sales ops is cross-functional and strategic

Similarly, 85% of sales people say sales ops is becoming increasingly strategic. In fact, within REA Group there is now a Chief Sales Officer, a role that simply didn’t exist two years ago.

“Two years ago, we were structured by market – residential, commercial, etc.,” says Smrithi Kamtikar, Senior Manager Product at REA Group. “Then we took the opportunity to move to a more functional structure, and that was when our Sales teams came together into one function.”

“Since then, from a platform perspective, we’ve been on a journey of dramatic simplification, with the end goal of putting in place the right experiences for our customers and ensuring our platform supports teams like Sales and Customer support who in turn support our customers..”

Another fact to come out of the State of Sales report was that high-performing sales teams were 2.3 times more likely than underperforming teams to increase the cross-functional nature of their work. In fact, 48% of sales ops teams surveyed have increased their involvement in cross-functional workstream management.

Within REA Group, most of our discussions tend to be cross-functional ones, Smrithi says. At quarterly planning sessions, she says, a multi-disciplinary team that includes sales discusses shared goals and common challenges, combining their wisdom, experience and knowledge to develop actions and solutions.

Those discussions, and so many more within the business, are made far easier where we have relevant and insightful data into our market and customer needs.

Data reveals the future

“From a macro point of view, we’re constantly reinvesting in our data to support good business decisions,” Smrithi says. “We’re also doing it to make sure we can take the next big step forward, which is about becoming more predictive and proactive across all our customer channels - regardless of whether they are digital or face to face channels.”

“We don’t want to look backwards, we want to look forwards and have the ability to predict what our customers might want, and to identify gaps in the market, and to know which product or which approach best solves specific customer pain points.”

From a micro point of view, Rodney discusses the way a performance discussion might go between an account manager and their sales manager, with the insight provided by data.

“We’ve definitely moved to more data-led coaching,” he says. “We describe it as ‘less feels and more facts’. So rather than sitting down and saying, ‘I think I’m doing well’, they can now say, ‘I have made this amount of calls and off the back of that I can see that I have issues with this particular product, because I close the other product more often’.”

“Central to everything we’re doing right now is the driving of a coaching culture. Some people considered coaching as being a bit of a soft art. But actually, when you marry those two things together – the empathy of coaching and the hard facts of data – that’s when the real magic happens.”

Find out the latest sales trends and insights guiding sales professionals to recover and grow in the fourth edition of the State of Sales report