2016 is just around the corner. It’s time for the year-end planning that will enable your organization to continue on a successful path. There are many tactical “housekeeping” items to worry about, but first you have to paint the big picture: what are the growth targets, what changes do you see coming, and how can you best enable your sales force to execute strategy?
To help you plan for a successful 2016, I’ve identified four key areas that sales operations must focus on at the end of the year:
- Plan for growth
Make sure sales strategy and your ability to execute it are aligned with corporate goals. Will your organization launch new products? What does that mean for your sales force? Are your systems flexible enough to handle growth? Analyze the implications of planned growth on the sales organization and prepare to ensure necessary changes will happen smoothly.
- Plan for change
Once you identify growth targets and areas requiring optimization, get key stakeholders together and think of ways to best implement change. Align goals, establish budgets, and analyze the impact of change on salespeople. How will you motivate new desired behaviors? How can you avoid demotivation and turnover? In the change process, don’t ignore feedback from the field. Give sales reps a chance to contribute to change, not just react to it.
- Improve systems to accelerate response time
One thing sales ops must accomplish in 2016 is improve its ability to respond quickly to the field. According to the Aberdeen Group, best-in-class companies are 61% more likely to “deploy a process to increase sales rep engagement with team performance and company-wide goals.”
In many organizations, current systems and processes create a frustrating lag between sales force inquiries about compensation and management’s response. For a more successful 2016, ask yourself:
- How can we be more responsive to the field?
- How can we create more flexibility in processes?
- How can we create additional space in timelines?
- Evaluate vendor capabilities
A big challenge for sales ops is deciding how much know-how to outsource and to whom. The vendors you work with in 2016 can make or break your ability to execute sales strategy because you depend so much on their products’ capabilities: quota accuracy, visibility into sales performance, ability to make timely and accurate payments, etc. More than anything, your vendors must support stepwise growth and agile processes. For more guidance on evaluating vendors, read 8 Critical Questions to Ask When Selecting a Sales Performance Management Solution.
Look back at 2015 results, analyze what worked and what needs improvement, and don’t carry on faulty processes to 2016. Make sure there’s bandwidth and opportunity to implement your big ideas. For that, optimize systems and processes, and work with experts that will enable you to achieve your objectives.
What are your sales organization’s challenges moving into 2016?