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Well-Defined Sales Ops Can Help Your Team Avoid Mistakes
By Danny Wong
As your sales team grows, it’s important to establish well-defined sales operations processes. This ensures consistency and avoids chaos. Guiding your sales teams helps them use proven, on-brand approaches when targeting customers.
When you build a small business or startup with just one salesperson, the methods and strategies for acquiring customers regularly evolves. At a certain point, you identify the best practices for sourcing leads, nurturing them, and closing the sale. Then, selling becomes second nature as that salesperson creates a process they can stick to. The caveat, however, is that they are the only person with working knowledge of how to sell for the organization. This, of course, is fine if the company wants to stay lean and small. However, businesses that seek further growth tend to hire new salespeople to share the responsibility of acquiring new customers.
To multiply sales efforts, companies generally recruit reps to work phones or pound the pavement to manage inbound and outbound initiatives. To do this successfully, though, it’s important that the organization develop a well-documented sales operations plan. This ensures that all your sales staff follows standard protocol as they interact with prospects. It also allows teams to grow at an accelerated pace. With proper sales and operations planning, reps are more likely to say the right things to prospects, shorten the sales cycle, and divert customers from competitors. When you create and follow sales operations best practices, you can even turn novice salespeople into top closers.
What Is Sales Ops?
Sales operations consists of the systems, technologies, and processes organizations use to strategically recruit, train, and guide sales reps. With a proven sales ops strategy, salespeople can successfully identify prospects, capture leads, nurture potential customers, and win over opportunities. In the past, individual salespeople designed their own strategies for closing customers and created their own collateral for educating their buyers. While an independently developed approach works in smaller companies, it can inhibit long-term sales growth, especially in larger companies.
As organizations expand, they need templates and standardized processes whole departments can follow to create consistency, which in turn makes actions more measurable and scalable. This is where sales ops comes in, as sales ops analysts and managers can focus their energies on establishing organizational best practices, while sales reps can spend their time routinely following each of those steps.
The Importance of Sales and Operations Planning
Companies expedite the sales cycle, accelerate sales growth, and eliminate inefficiencies when they practice regular sales and operations planning. After determining their revenue goals, pipeline pace, and output per employee, business leaders can take a data-driven approach to staffing up their sales team and ramping them up in time for upcoming sales milestones.
The sales and operations planning process clarifies who does what and when, allowing teams to account for all the important aspects of successful selling.
Common Sales Ops Best Practices
When organizations grow from a handful of salespeople to dozens on multiple sales teams, it’s crucial that sales operations teams already have a structure that allows everyone to sell efficiently and exceed their sales goals. Below are six sales operations best practices.
Define territories to avoid sales overlap. Assign sales reps with an exclusive customer base and give instructions for referring out-of-territory prospects to the right salesperson.
Develop product, sales, and competitor training. That way, you provide the exact language salespeople should use when communicating the benefits of your solutions and their unique advantages compared to other offerings within the same industry.
Leave room for flexibility. Although most steps in the sales process should be predefined, allow individual reps to apply their own creativity and judgment to move customers through the sales funnel.
Leverage technology to automate, record, and simplify processes. Between automated email tools, a CRM, contract management software, collaborative tools, and more, sales teams have a number of applications and programs that save them time and improve the customer journey.
Produce sales collateral with your content and marketing teams. Determine, through testing and analytics, what materials work best to educate and engage potential buyers.
Routinely analyze and optimize performance. Collect data on how well different parts of the sales process perform and pilot new ways to interact with buyers. When you determine new winning strategies, update and train the rest of the team on the latest tactics.
Strategically time follow-ups and new information delivery. Persistence pays off, and often it’s the sales reps who regularly ping leads with value-add messages and offers who win the account.
These are just a few of the most common sales operations best practices. The result generally includes process improvement, but also risk mitigation.
How Sales Operations Helps Teams Avoid Pricing Mistakes
The absence of a standardized sales process, proposal software, and sales operations team can lead to a lot of human errors throughout the customer journey. One of the most costly issues that can happen in the sales process is a pricing mistake.
Through the use of sales ops tools, such as contract management and CPQ (configure, price, quote) software, reps can automate pricing. Predetermined rules apply discounts when items are bundled together or bought in bulk. Customers can easily add on extra services themselves to increase the overall contract value.
In fact, the best sales operations teams find more opportunities to automate tedious manual processes, shorten the sales cycle, and make closing new accounts even easier. Of course, to do so, managers must first document and implement each of the steps.
How to Document and Implement Sales Ops
For most organizations, the three points below make it easy to document your sales operations in a manner that’s useful for all your team members.
Start from the beginning. Outline the key stages of the sales process, from finding new leads to turning them into paying customers. This should provide team members with a high-level overview of what needs to be done and when.
Within each stage, provide detailed steps that clarify which actions reps must take and the feedback they should receive from prospects before moving on to the next stage.
Work with your team’s best sellers to add tips and tricks that all reps within the organization should use.
Keep sales-ops documentation in a location where all team members can easily access it. Once you document your sales processes, it’s important that you create mechanisms that keep your team accountable in following organizational best practices. One way to do this is through the use of a checklist. At each stage of the sales process, require your sales reps to follow through with specific actions before moving leads through the pipeline. These steps ensure that customers get a consistent experience regardless of which salesperson they interact with.
Every Growing Team Needs Well-Defined Sales Ops
Well-defined sales ops and planning help you grow your sales teams successfully and minimize the risk of costly mistakes. With it, managing sales reps with different communication styles and strategies becomes a practical task and a contributor to growth.
An established sales operations process ensures that everyone in your sales department is on the same page, working strategically toward a unified goal. This provides team members with clear direction, avoids internal conflict, and establishes a well-oiled machine. The standardization of processes also helps managers reflect on the success of certain actions and bottlenecks that may limit sales potential, making it easier for them to analyze areas for improvement that can help reps consistently sell smarter.