Congratulations! You’ve landed a new sales operations role. Now comes the fun part – reviewing tools, implementing new processes, strategising with sales leaders, and more. Perhaps you’re the first sales ops hire in your company, maybe you’re a seasoned pro starting out in a new industry, or this could be your first step on the sales ops ladder. Either way, we’ve got you covered. We spoke to our community of sales operations leaders to find out their quick wins for new sales operations roles, with real-life examples for you to use.
For me, it never starts with process and efficiencies. It starts with strategic direction. I need to understand where we’re going as a business. Then I can start looking at what we already have in place from an operational perspective and how this supports the business’ strategy. Then you think, can we do it better? Can we change things? I wouldn’t start by diving into the details. Start with strategy and think about what the business wants to achieve. Then work back from that.
Read our interview with Catherine.
More often than not, I’ve found the last stage of the sales cycle is typically the longest. Whether that is creating the order form, getting legal buy-in, making sure the contract is correct, and ensuring it’s all properly tracked in Salesforce.
So that’sthe part I focus on first, making it as quick, as seamless, as painless aspossible, but in a way that is also scalable and accurate. At the end of theday, we want to have as much information in the CRM as possible, but you don’twant the reps feeling they have to enter all this information just to close thedeal.
Depending on the procurement process you can sometimes make pretty significant changes to the sales cycle by helping the sales team align more closely with their champions.
Read our interview with Jonathan.
You start by interviewing sales managers, sales reps and different colleagues in different departments to uncover where the gaps are. You take both a top down and bottoms up approach. Top down would be C-level: CRO, VP Sales, CEO. Ask them, “What is your mission statement for sales? What do you want to see from the revenue org as a whole?”
Thosebecome your marching orders. And then you start from the bottom up. Youinterview the field to find out what is working and not working. As you goalong you find places to bridge those gaps, places to automate, places toimprove. Although that’s easier said than done! That exercise could take 6 – 9months but there is no one template that fits everyone.
You need to be open-minded and creative. Anyone joining an organisation comes with their bag of tricks and ideas of what they want to do but it might not necessarily apply or be relevant. Be cautious, but also be creative. Start small. I would never start at a new place and immediately do a revamp or introduce CPQ.
Read our interview with Noam.
I start at the top of the funnel because if you make a small adjustment in conversions at the top, it is like a ‘rising tide raises all ships’. Then you can discuss how to bring more in and increase the first conversion. It’s about looking for quick wins throughout the rest of the funnel, looking for the low-hanging fruit, things we can do to improve conversion.
Work on the top of the funnel and then keep going down the funnel. Each stage has a different set of tactics that you can utilise. Prioritise based on effort and things that you can impact within your team or department to get things done quickly. Look at where you need sales or where you need product, for example. You get increased degrees of complexity the more functions you include, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Read our interview with Mark.
I wanted tounderstand the data I was looking at – understand if it was clean andunderstand what we thought it was showing. Starting with lead gen I had tounderstand what a good lead looks like, is this a real lead or is someoneselecting the wrong information and so on.
For me it was really understanding sales data, what our CRM was telling us and could tell us and what that could mean to the sales team. Then in parallel implementing a sales process. We always had a sales process but it was a case of formalising it in Salesforce, to be able to manage that sales process.
Read our interview with Anna.
The first thing is to figure out the lay of the land. I can give you a great case study of the last organisation I was with. We were starting from scratch, building this team up with exactly the same problems everybody has. The first step was to map out the process and figure out what was going on. I always like to take the standpoint of the customer journey and use that as the basis for how things are mapped out. So we’re not going to map out the 500 individual processes that happen around the organisation. We are mapping out the customer’s experience and then trying to figure out what are the processes we do that support that, and how do they all tie together. That journey becomes the anchor point for each of those processes.
When you start to map out all those processes, then you can really prioritise all the different issues. And then you have also got a framework to work off of to improve it. So when you go to solve a particular problem, you know exactly what the process is and where to go. You don’t have to start and map out that process. You have already got a headstart on fixing it.
Read our interview with Joe.
I think the thing you start with immediately is relationships. I have actually just started the role I am currently in and my focus is almost exclusively on meeting people; not just understanding what they do, but understanding what kind of people they are, how to approach them and how to work with them.
Then the next quarter is about trying to deliver some value in a non-disruptive way – going with the flow and enhancing what is in place. Unless of course the business is very small or has gone through a big disruption like an M&A. In those cases, there isn’t much flow to go with and you’ve got to start by showing some initiative.
Read our interview with Catalin.
We started with a buyer’s journey. Mark Roberge at HubSpot often talks about taking a customer-centric view of not just your funnel, but how you present your product and how you present your business externally. So, we started by trying to understand more about our buyer, our ideal customer profile and what sorts of personas were coming into PandaDoc and finding success with our product. And that buyer journey mapping is really the top layer of what we consider to be our funnel. The journey from awareness to consideration to a decision to value creation is crucial, because if we don’t understand how our buyer is becoming aware of and buying PandaDoc, then we can’t possibly hope to implement stages to help them through that buyer journey.
So that’swhere we started. Then underneath that, we built a layer of PandaDoc stages,which is our true funnel. We have people at the top, visitors, traffic. Thesecan be unidentified, or we might just have a few details. Afterward, if they dosomething on our website or they download some content, that is another stage.Then after that, we might decide they are an ICP or they are the persona thatwe want to target because of the buyer journey. That is another stage where we passthem to a BDR.
And then the funnel keeps going. Each stage has a very clear point of conversion that is measurable and can be architected in our system. So that second layer under the buyer journey is where our funnel sits. And then underneath that funnel – a third layer – are the systems and the activities behind it.
Read our interview with Denis.
The first piece of advice is to be hesitant in making big assumptions and always talk to the relevant stakeholders before making big decisions.
Secondly, use questions to arrive at an answer. It is easy to use data to come up with a plan, but that plan is only as good as the data. If the data isn’t clean or context is needed (which is often the case), you need to sanity check the insights with the people who drive the data.
In terms of key metrics, pipe generation, win rates, average deal size and average deal length are great places to start. Under each one of these metrics are subcategories which are equally important. For example, win rates are typically better for existing customers and looking at both count and value win rates is very important.
Read our interview with Barrett.
I would focus on the fundamentals. You have to get these right in order to be successful. For example, if the sales team doesn’t close enough this will probably be related to pipeline. Then we would ask what the drivers of pipeline are. Is it purely opportunity management or does it come from a different angle? I would speak to the leaders in different departments and ask them what they need. Okay, so they need to hit their targets. What does this mean? Okay, you have to get opportunities. Then you gradually get more and more granular in the key drivers, so you can focus on improving the business.
Then you look at your business ecosystem. Lots of tools are purchased by each department. You have to be really critical about what has been purchased and what the money is being spent on. Of course, nowadays every tool has an advantage for someone, but you have to tailor your business. It’s better to focus on three to four tools than having 22 tools, each for one use.
Read our interview with Gilles.
Firstly,I’ll look to answer some key questions:
1. “Whatdoes your pipeline look like?
2. What doyou define as the different stages in your sales process?
3. Whereare you in terms of conversion rates between each sales stage?
4. What’syour win rate?
5. Where doyou drop off in the pipeline?
This has the biggest impact in a short space of time. As soon as I know where our pipeline drops off and why, that data-point is what I’d then go to the VP Sales with to advise on how we improve that. And, if we improve that by 2-4%, you can say “Hey, I’ve been here for two to three months and I’ve already helped you convert x amount.”
Read our interview with Jay.