A broken sales process can hold back even the best sales reps from delivering the goods. The first hurdle to ‘fixing’ your broken sales operations? Figuring out where things are going wrong. Here’s a hint: the problem can often be traced back to the very first step of the sales process – prospecting. To land more sales, you need to fil your funnel with quality leads who meet your customer criteria. If your prospects aren’t interested or likely to buy in the near future, you can’t blame your sales reps for failing to close. Fortunately, broken sales operations can be fixed – which means you can start to bring in high-quality leads and set your sales team up for success. Today we’ll talk about how you can use sales operations to bring in more revenue, identify why your sales process is broken in the first place, and give you plenty of tips to get back in the game with stronger sales operations than ever.
Sales ops activities that can boost your bottom lineSales operations encompasses a variety of roles and activities that all serve one purpose: to boost your sales team’s effectiveness. Done well, sales operations can streamline the sales process so that reps can sell more, sell faster, and bring in more revenue. Sales ops involve a mix of tactical and strategic duties that can boost your bottom line, including:
- Consistent reporting that tracks sales trends over time
- Defining and assigning sales territories to maximize coverage
- Setting realistic yet challenging sales quotas based on past performance
- Managing the sales team’s CRM and other technical tools to optimize productivity
Sales enablement vs. sales operations: what’s the difference?If you’re not familiar with what types of activities and responsibilities fall under the umbrella of sales ops, you’re not alone. Depending on your team’s structure, you might even confuse sales operations with sales enablement So, before we dive too deep into how to fix broken sales operations, let’s clarify what makes sales ops different from sales enablement. Sales ops is all about analyzing recent sales reports and metrics, finding ways to improve and optimize rep performance, and providing the tools, marketing collateral, and motivation the sales team needs to be successful. Sales ops also handles negotiations and works out the details with new accounts. On the other hand, sales enablement is more closely linked to defining the sales process, training reps, and communicating quotas, wins, and news to sales staff. Though there’s clearly some overlap between operations and enablement, many companies operate best when these roles are distinctly separated. For example, the sales enablement team might develop an onboarding process to introduce new hires to the territories, compensation structure, and reporting tools put in place by the sales ops team.
4 major mistakes that lead to broken sales operationsIf your team is struggling with broke sales operations, there are a number of potential culprits. Here are four of the most common mistakes that cause cracks in what would otherwise be a solid sales process.
Mistake #1: Using a top-down approach to define your sales operationsWhen management makes all the decisions about how their sales team should perform without consulting the sellers, the results are often not very practical, attainable, or realistic. Not to mention that your sales reps are less likely to support processes they didn’t have a say in creating. Effective sales operations incorporate sales data, company goals, and feedback from your sales reps.
Mistake #2: Including too many steps in your sales processWhile the goal of sales operations isn’t to micromanage your reps, it is important that your sales process has clear, defined, repeatable steps. Your reps should always know exactly what activities they need to perform at which stage. However, if your sales process is broken down into too many stages, it becomes harder for your sales team to follow along. Your team needs to be able to internalize each stage and focus on selling, without feeling like they’ve skipped some crucial step. Though the ideal number of steps depends on your product, customer, and price point, a good rule of thumb is to aim for three to seven stages in your sales process.
Mistake #3: Failing to emphasize the importance of following upDid you know that 80% of all sales require at least five follow-ups to close? Unfortunately, most sales reps aren’t persistent enough about following up, which means they’re leaving money on the table. If your reps are failing to follow up enough to seal the deal, it could be that they don’t realize the value of doing so – and your broken sales operations are likely to blame. Whether management failed to communicate the expectation that reps should follow up more consistently or there aren’t any metrics in place to track follow-ups, you should revisit your sales operations strategy to prioritize additional follow-up attempts.
Mistake #4: Wasting time and energy on untargeted leadsWhen you try to sell to everyone, you’re not selling to anyone. Unless you take the time to learn about your ideal customer and research individual prospects before meeting with them, you’ll struggle to make a connection. That is, if you can even get a meeting in the first place. If you find yourself sending out generic emails to random leads and pitching features that aren’t even relevant to the person you’re trying to sell to, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Pitching to unqualified leads is a waste of everyone’s time – and a waste of your company’s resources.
What does it take to repair broken sales operations?Now that you have an idea of what might be causing your problems, let’s look at some of the solutions you can use to fix broken sales operations.
Solution #1: Focus on serving your ideal customersDifferent prospects care about different features, benefits, and pain points. The sales pitch that won over your most recent customer might not be relevant at all to your next prospect. The key is to arm your sales team with the knowledge and tools they need to sell to specific types of buyer personas. So, rather than building a sales ops strategy based on what your company wants to achieve, focus on highlighting how your product benefits each customer. Start by breaking your ideal customers into clearly defined segments. Then, try to identify the unique selling points and features that are most relevant to each group. Communicate these finding to your sales reps and ask for feedback from the group to confirm your customer personas are an accurate reflection of reality.
Solution #2: Set actionable goals for each stage of your sales processPoor sales performance is often linked to weak processes, so it’s crucial that you build a strong foundation for your sales ops. How? By assigning one goal-oriented activity to be completed at each step of the sales process. Aim for activities that create momentum and move the process forward. For instance, “respond to customer objections” would be a better activity description than simply “follow-up after the pitch.” If you don’t have anything resembling a defined sales process yet, remember that we all need to start somewhere. In this case, your starting point simply outlining the steps of your sales process. You can always go back later to make changes based on how well the process works for your reps and whether they think any crucial steps are missing.
Solution #3: Prioritize face-to-face meetingsWhen first engaging with a new prospect, encourage your sales reps to schedule in-person meetings early and often. Not only do face-to-face meetings require a time commitment that shows you’re serious about working them, but it also allows reps to build a more personal relationship with the prospect. One easy way to get more face-time with a new client? When you’re traveling to meet them for the first time, simply ask for a second meeting to be scheduled within 24 hours of the first. Since you’re already making the effort to visit in person, most clients are happy to accommodate your request. This method of scheduling two meetings back-to-back allows you create a sense of urgency and speed up your sales cycle, which means you can close more sales, faster.
Solution #4: Get to know your customers ahead of timeOne of the foundational rules of sales is know your customer. Learning about your prospect (and their company) beforehand is arguably the best way to prepare for any sales meeting or call. The more you know about your customer in advance of your first meeting with them, the faster you can build a connection and demonstrate value in term’s they understand. It also allows you to tailor your pitch from the start, rather than scheduling an initial discovery meeting followed by a separate sales demo. Want to fine-tune your next sales pitch so it speaks directly to your prospect? Get in touch to find out how Prepperz can set you up for success with detailed sales intelligence.
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