High growth can speed up the heartbeat of a sales organization. It’s a period of great excitement when a lot is happening in a lot of places. But behind closed doors, more heavy lifting is required to cope with the changes. Sales operations, for instance, have to step up their game so that all processes reflect growth from concept straight to the field.
Over years of working for top organizations which expanded their operations, our experts have gathered many insights on the topic. To wield the growth within your sales organization, we put together the third part of our High Growth blog series. Enjoy!
MARIUS CLAPON, PROFESSIONAL SERVICES DIRECTOR
- If the reps don’t influence the high growth directly, focus compensation plans on other metrics/KPIs that would make it a little bit more challenging for reps to attain their targets.
- For example, one could switch from sales target to market share; if the market goes up on its own, the strategic objective should focus on acquiring more market share.
- Don’t overpay! While rep income should also go up during these times, it shouldn’t overtake revenue growth. I would advise all my customers to increase the frequency of analytics reporting and their granularity. With high growth, the room for error also increases, which can lead to high imbalance in terms of pay, performance, budget consumption and ROI. Make sure you have a way to monitor in real-time internal and external evolution, to be able to quickly correct any distortion.
Build the brand:
- Pay for qualitative measures. This will come in handy once high growth stops.
- Shift some of the focus on additional products, which weren’t so visible before.
Increase the skill set:
- Incentivize reps to step up their game and gain more experience with cross-selling.
- Eliminate poor performers and attract top sales rep with the support of your Talent Management team.
- Invest in your people. It will benefit the entire organization long after high growth has passed.
Acknowledge that high growth is going to end at some point:
- Be prepared to switch back to more traditional measures and be quick about it. Think about long term planning and consolidate your most relevant KPIs, those that reflect best the business outcomes you’re chasing on the long run.
- It’s easy to get carried away during times of high growth. While everybody grows with the market, the difference will be made by those who turn high growth into sustainable growth. Just because the vertical is enjoying a high growth period, it doesn’t mean you don’t have competition.
Forecasting and analysis:
- This is the trickiest part to execute during high growth, but probably one of the most important, since it can predict when high growth is going to end.
- Put analytics to good use and turn big data into smart data.
- Intersect analytics from multiple angles before making decisions. YoY reports may not be sufficient since the relevant information may be condensed within a shorter time frame. Scale back and zoom in to capture those triggers which will help you anticipate the next high growth period. Be prepared for the next wave to gain an even steeper growth curve.
- Modeling: run multiple scenarios and be ready to react. Have the numbers ready before it even happens.
If high growth only relies upon increased profits for a period of time, you won’t grab so many benefits in the long run. Use high growth to invest in skills, processes and innovation. Galvanize your team productivity and position the organization for sustainable future growth.”
ARTURO BENTIN, PROFESSIONAL SERVICES VICE PRESIDENT
To give you an example, when pharma companies have a new product launch, they should have in place a flexible platform to support the high level of growth, services around developing plans for those new components and types of incentives during the launch.
Chances are you don’t get to choose one sales ops method to another, and it’s going to be something brand new. Rebalancing, shifting things around and spreading the knowledge are crucial during high growth, particularly during mergers & acquisitions.
Depending on why high growth is happening, you may have to revisit your quotas, territories, hierarchy, add extra levels of detail, etc.
Sales operations should also benefit from the right mix of platform, business services, and expertise to be able to look at high-level objectives and initiatives that support high growth. During this period, best-in-class companies are often setting up Centers of Excellence that manage all changes at a higher level.
A dedicated position that supports the team during growth will help you keep things under control and take advantage of this exciting period.
Another advice I would give sales operations leaders is to standardize, rather than manage exceptions. When you add a division or a group to your plan, fold it into the existing structure, rather that treating it as an exception. Of course, this means to already have thorough business processes and best practices in place.”
Make sure you also read our executive brief – Sales Operations during High Growth.