I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
According to the Sales Operations Center of Excellece, 54 percent of sales operations departments are less than 3 years old. Though this department is still in its infancy for many organizations, more mid- to large-sized companies are seeing the need for a focus on making their sales teams and processes more efficient. As this role continues to gain traction, what was once considered a project manager’s wheelhouse has turned into the newly defined responsibilities of sales operations managers.
Consequently, new expectations have been set that include helping sales leaders make data-backed business decisions to drive performance and increase efficiencies, aligning selling resources with marketing material to better enable their sales teams, while improving the sales process through better measurement and execution.
The responsibilities for sales operations roles continue to adapt and expand. As such, the sales operations manager must be more technologically savvy in order to continue achieving the requirements of that position.
In order to assist with some of the responsibilities listed above, these managers are turning to software solutions and tools to automate steps of the sales process while tracking performance metrics for sales reps and the documents they send to prospects. In order for sales operations managers to be successful, they must be able to execute on the three business needs below, which can be achieved with use of technology.
1. Visibility: Analytics are Key
A strong grasp of sales data and the analytics of that data is an essential element to improving the sales process. There is software available that can provide analytics about prospect interaction with client-facing sales and marketing material by utilizing web-based content delivery.
Addressing the Black Hole Scenario
Tracking prospect activity is game changing because it alleviates the black hole scenario. The moment when documents are passed along to a prospect it falls into a “black hole” where sales personnel don’t have insight into what prospects do once they receive the material. Have they looked at it? If so, when? What did they spend most of their time looking at? By delivering sales presentations, proposals, and contracts with a web-based solution, analytics on this content can better educate both sales and marketing on what content to provide to prospects and when.
Not only does this type of insight provide heightened transparency into prospect activity, it allows sales to offer content proven to work at the right time to the right people, effectively increasing customer acquisition and driving performance.
2. Bridge the Gap: Getting Everyone on the Same Page
Addressing the age-old issue of misaligned expectations between the sales and marketing departments isn’t easy. But, the ability to bridge this gap is what makes or breaks a business. While businesses understand the importance of collaboration between the two departments, many times they just don’t know how to go about achieving that goal.
Streamline and Collaborate with Technology
The sales operations manager knows that data and analytics are the most powerful decision-making tools. There are easily adoptable technology solutions that track prospect engagement with sales documents and provide insight to the lifecycle of the sale, measuring deal activity from opportunity to close. Streamlining the process by capturing engagement analytics takes a good sales team to great. If the same technology can assist in the internal and external collaboration process by allowing documents to be shared, redlined, and tracked adds another layer of efficiency. Real-time activity notifications, maintaining version history, and quick and easy electronic acceptance options are crucial to proposal and contract management. Stop wasting time tracking things down.
A Web-based proposal and contract management solution not only makes collaboration more efficient, it streamlines the process of creating and delivering client-facing material. It gives control over which documents are shared with prospects and gets everyone on the same page by tracking important sales process metrics.
3. Remove Inefficiencies: Spend More Time Selling
The ability to maintain a database that holds all up-to-date and correctly branded documents is essential. Doing so can make the sales team’s job easier by allowing easy access to the right documents, while making marketing happy by increasing document consistency.
Less Time Creating, More Time Selling
A system that’s accessible to the entire team eliminates time sales reps spend looking through old emails or documents saved on their computer, in order to find material to send to prospects. A central location will keep templates, selling material and other documents readily available, while also ensuring the material has been approved by sales management and has the brand consistency marketers want. If sales reps are enabled to create the presentations, proposals, and contracts with a couple of clicks and can be confident that client data flows into those documents and tracking data is pushed back to the company’s database, they can focus on what they do best: selling. Receiving real-time alerts when prospects are interacting with their documents and summaries of what they looked at and for how long results in easier prioritization of follow up for the rep; it can help the deal move along quicker.
Streamlining the sales process when there are so many moving pieces to consider isn’t an easy job, but one that has direct impact on the success of a business. The sales operations manager must enable the sales team with better processes driven by data, while effectively working with the marketing department to implement standards of consistency.
Consider implementing technology that will help any sales organization accomplish these three fundamental business needs. Sales operations can build and continue to improve upon a more streamlined sales process with the automation of tactical and detail-oriented steps sales reps often fall short on, delivering consistent, trackable selling material, and analyzing efficiency analytics throughout the sale. Optimizing the sales process in these ways is proving to close more deals faster.
Contributed by TinderBox, provider of Web-based solutions for sales and marketing.