Sales Operations Use Case and Best Practices

Deliver Sales Operations Excellence

Explain what process improvement is. Differentiate between an efficient process and a poor one. Connect process improvement to sales productivity.
  • What is Process Improvement?
    • Process improvement is a set of best practices and steps to identify and simplify existing processes in a business with the goal of increasing productivity
    • “Increasing Productivity” can mean revenue gains, efficiency gains, happier teams, or some combination of the three
    • Five steps to Process Improvement:
      1. Diagnose the problem or challenge
      2. Identify whether a tool is needed to address it
      3. Come up with a new process
      4. Test with a subset of users
      5. Roll out to the larger team
    • Sales Operations teams perform these steps
      • Sales operations teams are there to identify the inefficiencies, not develop the deal booking process
  • Example Case Study
    • Step 1: In the diagnostic phase, sales operations learns what their sales team members are complaining about and what related tasks they’re performing manually. After job-shadowing and interviews, they identify:
      1. Sales and finance teams go back and forth between Salesforce and spreadsheets where they track their consulting deliveries
      2. Becoming harder and harder to keep data clean between systems, affecting how fast they can respond to customer inquiries and contract questions
      3. No confidence that the current process is going to work (low morale)
    • Step 2: Next step is to determine a strategy to improve the process, which may include adoption of a tool from the Sales Operations Process and Technology module
      • Choice between building a new app on Salesforce and buying an out-of-the-box ERP they can customize and easily integrate using published APIs through MuleSoft
    • Step 4: Sales ops tests the new system and processes among a small number of sales and finance team members who preview and provide feedback
    • Step 5: Sales Operations establishes a new process and presents it to the teams for final buy-in
  • Red Flags when Assessing whether a Process Needs Updating
    • Manual Effort: human input or entry, which introduces greatest chance for error
    • Avoidance: users skip, avoid, subvert, or ignore steps in the process
    • Lack of Trust: users question data legitimacy and feel compelled to fix it
    • While some activities can require complete overhauls, often a process can be improved with small tweaks or focusing on inefficiencies resulting from a single step
  • Translate Process and Tools into Sales Strategy
    • Process improvement benefits sales in three ways:
      1. Less time spent on manual, administrative tasks means more time spent selling
      2. When sales has the right resources at the right time, buyer experiences are more personalized and conversion rate goes up
      3. When sales tasks are automated, sales ops teams spend more time optimizing the sales process and supporting benefits above

  • User testing does not need be completed with all of the sales team before rollout. Generally, test with a subset of the broader team.
  • Evaluating process changes is not an all-or-nothing undertaking - sometimes small tweaks make big improvements

Collaborate Across Teams

Explain the needs of the sales, marketing, and finance teams. Communicate process improvements in a way that aligns with the needs of each team.
  • Making Process Changes
    • Final step of process improvement is rollout to a team, which can be marketing, sales, finance, or support - often referred to as change management
    • Sales operations focuses on getting buy-in and gaining trust by explaining how and why the process has been adjusted and improved - this step is critical and impacts whether a new process is adopted or subverted
  • Know Your Audience
    • When working to get support and adoption of a new process, think of each team as having its own buyer persona
      • Recall a buyer persona is typically used by marketing teams as an ideal picture of a customer that allows them to zero in on that customer’s needs
    • Each department has its own needs, motivations, behavior patterns, and ways they best absorb information about change
  • Sales
    • Top priority of sales teams are to earn commission
      • Happy following your process if they trust the steps lead to greater commission or more leads
    • Sociable, prefers in-person presentations where they can ask questions instead of just receiving info digitally
  • Marketing
    • Attuned to buyer demographics and statistics, so they are more analytical and appreciate data-driven changes
    • Often budget sensitive and focused on how their contributions link to a company’s financial success
    • Frame the solution in a way that ties their marketing investments and efforts directly to business performance, called “attribution”
  • Finance
    • Finance is an ROI-driven group, focused on generating more revenue and reducing expenses
    • When presenting to finance, focus the message on how a new tool or process can ultimately benefit the bottom line

  • Sales operations typically supports Sales and Finance
  • Most sales teams' persona is accurately described as commission-driven