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Innovative Technology. Solid Planning. Intelligent Automation. A Recipe for Sales Operations Performance.

If you’re cooking up a new sales plan for your company, you most likely have a great recipe to use. You’re probably gearing up to mix compensation with territories, quotas, and objectives. Next, you’ll add just a dash of analytics, a few drops of reporting and maybe a spoonful of forecasting. Then, all you’ll have to do is serve it while it’s hot, at the first board meeting. Right? Well…hopefully. Your latest dish may come out looking great, but will it pass the taste test?

Sales Operations Performance

Whether your company adopted sales performance management years ago or only recently made it a practice, you know that its success, as with any combination of ingredients, depends in part upon the basics: a robust platform, best practices, and a selection of flexible services. But the flavor comes from within.

1. Start with a Good Selection of Data

Your main ingredient? Data. Granted, it may not sound all that exciting. But data is to sales performance as stock is to soup; as one renowned chef says, “it’s like a strong foundation. When you have the right foundation, everything tastes good.” You’ve most likely got loads of data at your fingertips… from loads of different sources. In its richness and variety, its many shapes and sizes, lie the insight and wisdom that will help you make the best decisions for your company.

But the line between a cornucopia of data to delight in and countless overflowing bowls full of disparate, differently formatted, unaligned data (think kale, carrot, pineapple smoothies before blenders came along), is slippery.

Short of a sold-only-on-tv-miracle, you’ll need to get your hands on powerful technology  before you toss your sieve in the sink. If that technology is truly cutting-edge, you’ll have the option to program it to automatically separate critical sales performance data from filler. A great data science process leads to trustworthy, easily accessed, perfectly filtered and streamlined data. Discover how individuals and teams are performing. Get the scoop on territories, customer trends, marketplace changes, forecasts: you name it. Voilà!

2. Plan Your Sales Ahead and Know What to Expect

Before setting off on your foray into the world of gourmet business, try to clearly define your objectives. Doing so will help ensure your sales plan is easy to follow. Such a plan should allow for the use of the previously collected data but should also also adapt over time, and be capable of integrating the new or changed components of your future dish. It should also allow for collaboration, especially when more complex courses are in the works.

Also, let’s not forget the following detail. In most industries, accurate forecasting is key to establishing sales goals and to managing sales force performance. But accuracy comes from experimenting—testing out different hypothetical, data-based scenarios (a little bit of this, a little bit of that) until you hit upon those that are most reliable and promising. When sales operations plans how it will achieve end results, the end results become achievable.

An untested recipe may result in your turning a lava cake into a…muffin. Not quite a disaster. Not quite as wide-reaching and impactful as the effects of inadequate planning on your company’s bottom line. In other words, when you account for all the variables beforehand, you can make deeply informed decisions.

3. Visualization is Key

An illustrated or video recipe helps you envision the preparation of the dish you’re making at each stage of the process. Likewise, strong data visualizations accomplish the same goal. They do the unraveling for you, helping you digest information that may be difficult to understand in any other form. Patterns in individual, team, and company-wide sales performance, in sales trends, in territories, and in many other areas become easier to spot and compare.

Since visualizations enable huge amounts of data to appear in a way that’s immediately accessible, they empower you to quickly reach conclusions. In addition, you can often adjust visuals to anticipate different scenarios, predict outcomes, and detect relationships that would otherwise be challenging and time-consuming to unbury from row after row of data. You can then immediately share that knowledge with other stakeholders.

4. Use the Right Tools and Automate

No respectable chef would come to the kitchen without the tools needed to get the job done. Granted, a veggie spiralizer may seem over the top, but imagine dough without a rolling pin.

When it comes to your job, if you don’t have the help of appropriate technology, and your organization hasn’t automated long-drawn-out, labor-intensive tasks, your productivity will be far lower than is possible, and your work prone to errors.

With an involved sales performance management provider and powerful platform, you’ll be able to streamline your SPM processes and automate repeatable, low-value activities to save time and reduce errors. And with all the time you save not reformatting tables, you can focus on the strategic items that most fully impact the sales force, and ultimately drive revenue.

5. Add a Final Touch

Follow the above advice and your dish won’t only look like a culinary masterpiece, but may even merit the highest praise, that question of all questions: what’s your secret? The answer will be simple: a strategically and technologically capable SPM partner and a flexible engagement model that enabled you to align your sales operations activities to the strategic initiatives of your organization. And with that, you can tip your well-earned master chef hat and get back to business.

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This report from Gartner Research, the world’s leading research and advisory firm, is a must-read for any sales organization.

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