The high-growth phase of a business instills optimism and excitement around any sales organization, but it can also disorient people and add extra-burdens on sales operations. In the last year, we have been experiencing our own high growth phase – significantly expanding our marketing and sales organization to support the growing business needs.
As a leader of this group, I have been managing a lot of changes throughout this period. Fortunately, I have access to many sales operations experts, who I lean on to help me facilitate our growth. With a clear strategy in place, we are setting the stage for even more opportunities.
To help those of you dealing with similar changes, I asked several experts what advice would they give to sales leaders and sales operations facing high growth. In a series of blog posts, they will walk you through best practices and insights they have gathered over years of working for top organizations worldwide.
A SALES OPERATIONS MODEL DURING HIGH GROWTH
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT KEN BJORKELO
“Sales operations need to stay aligned with the evolving and changing priorities of sales leaders. This is especially important during periods of change, such as high growth. The sales operations model should include regular touch points with sales leaders. We recommend quarterly rhythms to accomplish the following:
- assess organizational challenges that result from evolving needs (growth);
- define initiatives that can be put into place to address challenges (such as process improvements and automation, hiring, organizational imperatives, and longer term planning needs);
- set priorities keeping in mind the resources of the sales operations group;
- develop execution plans that keep in mind both ongoing operational needs as well as emerging and new initiatives.
The key is to institute an ongoing planning model that allows the sales operations leader to remain tuned into the evolving needs of sales and other leaders.
Sales leaders need to pay attention to not just hiring and growing sales staff, but also supporting sales operations to scale and adapt to the evolving needs. Pay attention to this support function by partnering with the sales operations leader and making sure the support roles are aware of growth plans and needs.”
HOW TO COMPENSATE AND COMMUNICATE
SENIOR CONSULTANT BEN THOREN
“When heading up to high growth, leaders have huge responsibility on their hands: above all the enthusiasm, they have to determine the long-term vision of the organization. As they capitalize on growth, a 3-5-year strategy will carry them to their desired position in the market.
Leaders also have to take an active involvement in communicating the new strategy to the sales organization. High growth can come with a dizzying array of changes to compensation plans, to sales targets, to customer and territory alignments, right down to individual roles.
Through this phase, sales operations have plenty of work on their hands to continue delivering on their daily functions. This can become nearly impossible if the salesforce doesn’t accept the strategy changes. Sales leaders who want to see their business goals achieved should devote time to a comprehensive communication strategy, both before the fact and on an ongoing basis while the vision unfolds.
To take full advantage of high growth, tailor your compensation strategy to the new circumstances. To avoid confusion and discord, be consistent in what you communicate to your sales reps and channels.
Leaders should avoid making short-term compromises that are not in line with their long term vision.
Prior to a period of high growth, when things are more manageable, you might get away with approving multiple exceptions to the compensation plan, or with adjusting sales targets without rigorous review. The negative consequences of these concessions grow, however, as the scope of your sales operations grows.
It’s also key to not make compromises on the systems side, by accepting a patchwork of multiple data sources from several platforms. Compromises add up over time and you may have a hard time reaching long term goals if your strategy never gets fully off the ground.”