The single question that I get asked the most as a Sales Operations lead is “When?!” In today’s tangled web of sales stack tools, data and analytics, sales leaders want to know “how quickly can we can install all the new shiny sales tools?” But instead of asking when, the first question should be “Are these tools (or apps) even necessary?” In my opinion, most of the time the answer is “no” because:
- We can already do that with our existing tools but I haven’t had the time to get it running yet (quite literally!) OR reps aren’t using the functionality that currently exists.
- This tool doesn’t look like something that could lead to substantial efficiency, effectiveness or ROI for the team.
- The tool only solves one short term problem.
Here’s the deal . . . we know the process and sales tools better than anyone. We know the workflow gaps, and most importantly, we know that implementing, managing and ensuring user adoption will ultimately fall on our laps. I highly recommend consulting with your Sales Ops lead from the beginning of any sales technology evaluation and purchase. If you haven’t consulted with your Sales Ops lead on where to omit, invest or expand just yet, I here are 5 things they might say:
1. Omit: No more tech “tools” or quick fix “apps”
Reps are tasked enough with learning a complex CRM system as it is… Why give them so many tools on top of that? Today it takes the average rep 7+ tools and 19+ minutes to contact one single opportunity. If the technology you are considering doesn’t sit within a rep’s typical prospecting, research and outreach flow, be sure to add a at least a few minutes to every sales outreach if you purchase that tool. What you thought was going to add efficiency, may not.
2. Invest: Robust solutions that solve multiple process gaps.
There are a few process gaps that I typically hear when talking to peers:
– The marketing to sales handoff process is complicated, and because of this, sales rarely follows up on leads or follow-up is not tracked. Did marketing’s leads turn into ROI? Who knows!
– Sales does not know which product to pitch to buyers and better yet, when buyers are pitched to, what pitch is working or what content is captivating them is unknown. We can ask each team member these questions but wouldn’t it be better if we could get this view in our systems so we just know?
– We’re stuck in day to day admin work – replying to one off requests, data cleansing, building lists, etc. How can we look at our process from a high level to build a longer-term strategy for the team?
Any solution, strategy or technology that can effectively mend these gaps is a worthwhile contender, but adding multiple sales tools to try and solve each one of these gaps is not ideal.
3. Invest: A streamlined, consistent sales process.
Whenever we try something new, I get asked by my executives “Did that work?” The hardest thing for me is to tell them is “well, the team did something differently so I can’t report back.” Change is hard for many sales teams, and rolling out something new that does not yield user adoption is even more disappointing to your sales ops lead who takes on this responsibility. Each team may go about researching prospects in a slightly different way, but how they record their sales plays, track them, and input their progress has to be consistent for us to get a 360 degree view of the sales process. Having too many Sales tools compounds this process and does not give your organization clear visibility.
4. Expand: Leverage more of our current investments and their capabilities.
We have some incredible technology on our hands nowadays. And most Sales Ops people I talk to aren’t skimming the surface on the capabilities that exist inside their existing CRM. The biggest problem is bandwidth to get these running. As opposed to buying new tech, we should be asking how can we increase resources and experts to use our existing technology (that reps are already using) to the fullest extent?
5. Invest: Guidance and prioritization of contacts/accounts for every rep.
A statistic we like to throw around internally at MarketBridge is we believe that most reps are only focusing on the top 10% of their accounts. That 10% is made up of those they think are most likely to close deals or those that reps have an existing relationship with. Now that may prove to be a good way for reps spend their time, but what about those who have CLEARLY signaled buying interest outside of the top 10%? Those whom are perusing our website, or existing customers whose product usage is off the charts (hence – upsell!). This data exists – it’s just sometimes hidden in other marketing or internal company systems, or even sitting at the contact level. Even at the contact level, the rep needs to know THAT there is something “hidden” in order to look for those signals.
Sales Ops leaders alike want to give reps clear direction on how to plan their day upfront, without searching through their entire territory to find a needle in a haystack that “seems promising.” We need to give reps specific automation, triggers, and plays for front-and-center visibility on likely buyers to follow-up with next.
In conclusion, we get it, you wanted that tech tool implemented yesterday, but If Sales Ops has to add, configure and manage another tool that an executive bought (without consulting them first), you might hear some screams.
So my advice? Just ask Sales Ops what is truly needed before signing that contract. Always have them play a larger role in the evaluation and buying process of any sales technology. We wont slow the process down, if anything having us involved will provide better execution and adoption.