Maybe you’ve been struggling with process inconsistencies or outdated systems for years. Maybe your sales comp plans are not exactly flawless, and maybe those errors cost you significant amounts of money every year. 2016 can be the year things get a lot better.
What if I told you that you could turn your sales ops around by summer holidays? Sure, good things don’t happen overnight, but a few months may be enough to build new solid fundamentals to achieve your sales potential.
Let’s take a look at the most frequent sales ops mistakes and some solutions.
- First of all, if you’ve established your approach was wrong, don’t repeat it! Change can be scary, but the best sales leaders are those who are not afraid to evolve or fight resistance. The sales organization must constantly adapt to remain competitive. Prepare your team to embrace change, instead of rejecting it, whether the change is a merger or acquisition, introducing a new compensation plan or simply adding new software. Consumers are becoming more demanding, and new technology is surfacing every day. The sales organization of the future must master transformation.
- Never keep your sales team in the dark. Yes, I’m probably stating the obvious, but communication is paramount to achieving better engagement with your sales force. Make sure you communicate all the significant changes in the sales strategy or their comp plan. Schedule a recurring meeting or update salespeople digitally. According to Aberdeen Research, half of best-in-class companies use automation to provide frequent updates on individual and team performance. By comparison, only 25% of laggard companies do that. Give salespeople the tools to provide feedback every time they think it’s necessary, and make it easy for them. For example, you can implement a social networking tool to connect people inside your organization and facilitate communication and collaboration. Most importantly, encourage a democratic exchange of opinions in your team.
- If you enable your sales reps to talk, but you don’t listen, you’ve done nothing. Track their feedback so that you later understand the way your sales force perceived or implemented decisions. Aggregating and analyzing feedback will also enable you to make better decisions in the future.
- Don’t work in silos. Make sure people in your sales team coordinate not just with each other, but with the other key departments as well: Finance, Legal and so on. Make sure their work is in line with the strategic goals the company leadership establishes. Tools can help you align and synchronize with other stakeholders inside your business. You can streamline workflows even in the case of very complex transactions, with many clearance levels. You can define protocols and keep track of deal stages. You can control access to the system based on the role and position of each person inside the company.
- Don’t assume, check! Challenge the status quo with a constructive, creative attitude. Always analyze your victories and failures and see what you can learn from each. According to the same Aberdeen study mentioned above, elite sales organizations are 33% more likely than all others (52% vs. 39%) to objectively conduct win/loss analysis on completed deals. Verify the data even when using software that leaves little room for error. Configurations can be out-of-date, and you may need to recalibrate.
- Don’t focus on what you sell, focus on your customers. Design your sales ops and coach your sales team with your clients in mind. Keep your reps informed and engaged to consistently generate high customer satisfaction. Set targets so that they have the time to adequately service existing customers, but also acquire prospects. Use smart software solutions to track and reward positive customer interaction across sales channels.
Keep in mind that optimizing your sales ops is not a one-off thing, but a continuous concern. With the right support, getting back on track can take months, but staying there requires constant work. Is 2016 going to be your best year so far?