Since Xerox established the first, and surely the most groovy, sales operations team back in the 1970s; sales ops has become the source for sales planning, compensation, forecasting, and “all the nasty number things that you don’t want to do, but need to do to make a great sales force.”
Making a great sales force is a big job—and it’s only getting bigger.
As the hub of sales organization efficiency and productivity, sales ops finds itself responsible for a variety of both strategic and operational work—made all the more difficult by today’s constantly-transforming business and technology environment.
Thankfully, it may be just as rewarding as it is difficult to pull off.
Companies that succeed at creating world-class sales operations departments can expect to see a 20 to 30 percent lift in sales productivity immediately with an additional 10 percent growth year over year after that.
If you’re looking to get this kind of growth from your sales function (and who isn’t?!), then keep reading to find several tactics and focus areas that are sure to give your organization a major push in the right direction.
3 Ways to Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Sales Operations (in 2019 and Beyond)
The need to scale beyond your competition while still keeping up with the growing number of consumer touchpoints puts modern sales operations in a tough spot.
Simply adding more sales folks is costly, unsustainable, and doesn’t really address the high expectations that permeate both the B2C and B2B worlds.
Here are several ways sales ops professionals can modernize manual admin tasks, outdated sales tools, non-linear systems, and worse to help sales organizations meet revenue goals as well as consumer needs.
Stop Guessing and Start Learning What Drives Poor Productivity
If you’ve never heard a sales rep complain of inefficient processes that negatively impact their productivity, have you ever even worked in sales ops?
The sales consultants at SiriusDecisions discovered that salespeople only spend about a quarter of their time actually selling to customers. Nearly 10 percent is spent discussing non-sales topics with customers, over 36 percent is spent putting together resources need to engage with customers, and 27 percent of their time—yep, more than what they spend actually selling—goes toward managing admin tasks.
In 2019, salespeople aren’t suddenly going to start loving these time-sucking processes that keep them from sales. However, the modern sales operations function will finally have access to the tools and the data they need to quantify sales issues—which will in turn empower them to go to bat for sales teams and acquire the resources they need to work smarter.
Enable Sales Reps with Thoughtful, Connected Systems
These days, it takes a lot more than a handshake to seal a deal.
In order for a partnership to move forward, a lot of work must be done. Unfortunately, in many businesses, that work is manual. Even worse, it often falls on the sales professionals who should be out there selling—not handling administration.
Typically, paper documents will be sent back and forth in a less-than-secure fashion. All the documents must be reviewed by the right people, in the right order. Mistakes will (probably) be made. And they will (hopefully) get corrected...eventually. Finally, if the process doesn’t totally stall out, signatures must be inked. It’s a process that’s all too often hung up and makes it easy for prospects to hang up.
In 2019, the modern sales ops team must say goodbye to waiting and hello to workflows.
Workflow content automation is a thoughtful and tech-first process by which formerly manual tasks (like signing and sending paperwork) are executed digitally, automatically, and much more conveniently. It’s also a great way to cut down on friction and cost while increasing revenue, volume, and cash flow.
When it comes to sales, automated workflows empower workers to do the most important thing they can do: Close revenue. Better yet, they can close deals more quickly, accurately, and with decidedly fewer annoying follow-up calls and emails.
HelloSign (and HelloSign integrations) in particular are the easiest opportunities to empower salespeople to get sales contracts created, completed, and stored—and all with the industry-leading security, legality, and compliance features you need to keep yourself and your clients safe.
Intrigued? Learn more about how to send, sign, and store sales contracts online with HelloSign right here.
Consolidating is In When it Comes to Sales Technology Investments
The days of smearing cost across the entire sales department like avocado on toast without any accountability or tracking are behind us.
There are thousands of pieces of sales software on the market today. Chances are, your organization is subscribed to and wasting money on at least a few of them. All these unbridled plugins, portals, and platforms can result in knowledge silos, security scares, and plenty of misallocated spending.
In 2019, the sales ops function that wants to be around to see the future should tighten the leash on unchecked technology investments. For those tools that do provide some value—it’s time to revisit if it’s worth the return on investment and whether there isn’t new tech that can do the same thing better or more efficiently.
4 Areas Where The Effective, Efficient Sales Ops Team Should Focus
When the main goal of sales ops is to empower their sales teams to boost business instead of tax it, they themselves have a lot to live up to. Here are four areas where sales operations professionals can focus so that they, and the sellers they enable, are both efficient and effective.
1. Data Management That Works for You
In the age of digital transformation; useful, organized data is currency. On the flip side, disorganized data will cost you.
To enable effective operations and ongoing sales success, you need a data management strategy that works for your organization.
Every second your sales force spends working to manage disorganized data is a second they can’t spend focusing on customers and leads—resulting in wasted time and opportunity that affects their morale and productivity as well as your organization’s success.
2. Analytics and Reporting That Enable Better Business Decisions
Anyone in operations knows it’s plenty hard to manage what you can’t regularly measure.
Once your database is all in order (riiiight?), you’ll have a great starting point from which to launch regular reporting and analysis efforts that will power important business decisions, keep you abreast of opportunities, warn you of potential failure points, and more.
In fact, the global sales training team at RAIN Group found that 80 percent of elite sales organizations (those who won 50 percent or more of their proposals) and 58 percent of top performers (those who won 40+ percent) agreed that their sales operations reports allowed them to accurately analyze situations, actions, and results. Only 37 percent of “the rest” agreed.
A direct link between sales success and powerful reporting? We think so.
3. Playing “Pick One” When it Comes to Price and Proposal: Agile or Rigid
Time may heal some wounds, but enough of it will stop a sale in its tracks. Over time, key decision makers get moved around, competitors swoop in, budgets change, and more. The faster sellers get the important pricing and other information they need to create and send proposals, the more likely they are to close those deals.
In top-performing organizations, three-quarters of the sales staff stick to established pricing rules while just over half at “the rest” do. When sales teams need to be fast and accurate, so does pricing and proposal support from sales ops. Make the commitment to move nimbly or establish set guidelines that keep the back and forth to a minimum.
4. Addressing Accountability and Underperformance
Over 60 percent of management at elite sales organizations and 48 percent at top-performing ones are likely to address issues with performance. However, at “the rest”, only 30 percent of management will confront underperformers.
Unfortunately, underperformers drag the whole team down. No, that doesn’t mean we suggest you go on a firing spree. Instead, sales ops teams should invest in the training and time it takes to hire achievers, manage underperformers, and enforce accountability across the board.
Modernize Sales Ops for Good with One Surprisingly Simple Adoption
Sales operations has always been a demanding gig. Keeping your finger on the pulse of sales as digital transformation progresses will only make it more time-consuming in 2019 and beyond. That is, unless you’re prepared to take action and take some of the paper-pushing pressure off your important salespeople.
HelloSign is an easy-to-use (and easy-to-implement!) digital sales contract creation, signing, and storage tool complete with cutting-edge security features. Whether you’re shopping for enterprise, hoping for an easy-to-implement API, or have your fingers crossed for an effortless solution to streamline your Salesforce workflow—at HelloSign, we’ve got all your twenty-first century sales ops needs covered.
And if you're still in research mode, download our Sales eBook: "Everything You Need to Know About Getting Your Sales Team Set Up with eSignatures" below. It covers options for deployment (including CRM integrations), competitor analysis, and key features to look for when evaluating an eSignature vendor.
Chart illustrating how the average sales rep spends their time