Sales Operations Now
One of the initial objectives of the SOO study was to get a detailed understanding of the roles and responsibilities of sales operations. We quickly found that these teams are involved in 16 different aspects of sales and sales management. But the top five areas where sales operations either had the lead role or were heavily involved were the following:
- Sales tool and technology management – 47.8%
- Forecast/pipeline process management – 46.8%
- CRM strategy planning – 46.8%
- Sales and sales support enablement – 45.6%
- Sales effectiveness performance analysis – 45.3%
In terms of areas of focus for sales operations, we asked the study participants to assess the priorities for the next 24 months. The following chart shows that sales management is expecting sales operations to take on a variety of responsibilities. As you consider all the items listed below in relationship to problems sales organizations are dealing with, you start to see that solutions will require the interplay between many of these items.
Take for example the issue of improving win rates. CSO Insights 2018 Sales Effectiveness study found that on average only 47.3% of forecast deals end up in the “win” column across all sales organizations. That number improved to 55.3% when we focused on firms with sales operations functions. This number stills leave much room for improvement and is symptomatic of challenges that sales teams are having in the Quote-to-Close (Q2C) process, defined as the steps required to prepare quotes and contracts, navigate those through the prospect review and approval procedures, and then once signed process successfully process the order.
To start to solve that problem, sales operations need to deliver decision-making data to executives, find ways to improve sales enablement services to sales teams, improve forecast accuracy, drive improvements with minimal disruption, etc. Dealing with that single challenge of optimizing the Q2C phase of the sales process could easily involve every item in the above chart.
The Sales Performance Challenge
If you ask sales professionals how selling today compares to five years ago, they will probably say it is harder. But is that perception or a reality? In reviewing the sales performance data that CSO Insights has been collecting over the past 25 years, the study findings clearly validate that assumption, as nearly every key performance indicator was lower for 2017 than 2012. One striking metric is that the percentage of salespeople who met or exceeded plan dropped from 63.0% in 2012 to 53% in 2017.
This trend has not been lost on sales management, as we continue to see companies pouring billions of dollars into new initiatives to increase sales effectiveness. One functional area management is leaning on to help plan, prioritize, and often oversee these projects is sales operations.
To better understand how sales operations are responding to this challenge, CSO Insights conducted the 2018 Sales Operations Optimization (SOO) study.
In this whitepaper, we will review some of the research findings and discuss the role that technology and process innovations can play in helping to transform how sellers engage with buyers at key stages during the sales cycle. The objective is to help sales leaders make the best choices regarding new ways to optimally align with the customer’s buying journey to improve sales performance.
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