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5 Ways Sales Ops Can Improve Productivity

It’s easy for sales ops practitioners to get bogged down in day-to-day tactical activities. You have reports to prepare, deadlines to meet, meetings to attend and requests to handle.

But don’t forget to make time for strategic work.

We’ve said it many times before, and we’ll say it again: as the group most in touch with sales data, sales ops is uniquely positioned to do some of the big picture thinking that could help make the business as a whole more successful.

In fact, sales ops is ideally suited to spot potential trouble spots and bring them to the attention of management. Equally important—or perhaps even more important—they are also in the right place to identify the things are working really well for the company and help the business do more of those things. And they have a good vantage point for identifying upcoming opportunities that could generate more revenue and profit.

Of course, if you are a sales ops practitioner, figuring out how to get started with that strategic thinking can be tough, especially if you’re new to the discipline. Here are five strategic things sales ops teams can do right now to help improve productivity for the business:

1. Get marketing to stop hurting the efforts of the sales team

It’s fairly common for companies to have some disagreements—and maybe even a little animosity—between the sales team and the marketing team. All too often, communication between the groups breaks down, with the result that the marketing team isn’t producing the types of communications materials that the sales team really needs. Sales ops can (and should) act as a bridge between the two groups in order to improve the overall quality of the sales materials. The SellingBrew guide Avoiding Five Margin-Killing MarCom Mistakes identifies five common trouble spots and provides some action items that sales ops can take to address any existing problems.

2. Create account plans that show where the growth can come from.

Every B2B firm would love to have their salespeople win more business from existing accounts. Unfortunately, they often put pressure on the sales team to deliver without providing them a plan or training on how to grow accounts. Sales ops can remedy this problem by creating prescriptive account plans that identify growth opportunities. The tutorial Developing Prescriptive Account Plans walks you through a seven-stop process for segmenting customers, establishing benchmarks, identifying which accounts offer the best opportunities for growth, and making a plan to achieve that growth.

3. Use your sales data to get management to ask the right questions.

Most B2B firms use their analytics tools for things like estimating financial results, setting and monitoring sales quotas, and measuring sales performance over time. But few companies use their analytics tools to derive true strategic insights. Organizations should be using analytics software to help answer fundamental questions about which products and services they should offer and which customers and prospects they should target. The express guide Driving Strategic Decisions with Sales Analytics explains how sales ops can move beyond simply providing the numbers to providing valuable insights to management.

4. Help the sales team understand the buyers with whom they’re negotiating.

By default, most salespeople assume that the way to win more business is to offer a lower price. But the truth is that most B2B buyers are actually making their buying decisions based on other factors. The diagnostic tool Three Types of Buyers that Don’t Buy on Price can help sales ops educate the sales team and identify which sales strategies are likely to be most effective with a particular customer or prospect.

5. Uncover where your sales processes are hurting profitability

When the sales team isn’t hitting their targets, it’s tempting to want to blame the individuals involved. Sometimes it is simply a problem of a bad hire, but often, the root cause is a more systemic issue. Get to know how your firm’s sales process works—both how the sales manager intends for it to work and how it’s actually playing out in the field. Armed with this information and sales data, you may be able to identify particular steps in the process that are sub-optimal and to suggest improvements. The diagnostic tool Finding Margin Leaks in Sales Processes explains how to compare your sales process to exemplar sales processes and points you to common problems that you might find.

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