At Thomson Reuters—a company that employs 57,000 people and generates $12.5 billion in annual revenue—sales operations is far from a function that’s merely cobbled together.
“We have a very structured organizational model and a strategic and collaborative approach to sales ops,” says Lee Wood, Senior Vice President of Global Sales Operations, Planning and Strategy for the company’s Intellectual Property and Science business unit.
With 30 years of experience developing and executing sales strategies in the business information industry, Wood knows the value of deliberate design.
It all starts with team structure. At Reuters, the sales effectiveness and development group provides all sales manager training, and creates online content for the learning management system. While training of the sales force is a classic sales enablement function, Reuters has a certain sales methodology and is focused on sales manager development.
“Our trainers are very close to the sales organization, and as a group we are well coordinated with the sales organization and report to the head of sales and service for our unit.”
Then there’s the “catch-all” team, which includes contract administration; sales performance analysis and reporting; incentives, compensation, design, management and administration; and customer relationship management. “We support all our users on the CRM, and manage all the demand for CRM improvements,” says Wood.
The Program Management Capability team focuses on overseeing annual planning and the quarterly reports. It also handles special projects, such as acclimating new clients to company procedures. “We aim to make sure everyone knows the project management basics, so we’re putting everyone — in whatever capacity — through project management 101,” Wood says.
Next, Wood emphasizes sound strategic planning with four goals in mind:
- Deliver on internal and external customer requirements
- Enable growth, retention and scale
- Achieve operational excellence
- Enhance organizational effectiveness
“With our leadership team, we have a view about the things we need to continue to do to drive improvements in all of those areas,” Wood says. This year, in addition to “our top-down perspective on what we need to do and drive, we’ve gathered all of the inputs — bottom up — from all of the people who work in our respective teams within sales ops,” Wood says.
Once input is collected and projects are sized up against strategic imperatives, each project is prioritized.
“At any given year, we’ll have more than 50 projects,” Wood says. In order to stick to a well-coordinated strategy, they put projects into three buckets: Must, High and Plus. “Then we try to achieve 90 percent of the projects in ‘Must,’ 75 percent in ‘High,’ and 50 percent in ‘Plus.’” Lastly, the team leaves room to accommodate the inevitable project nobody forecasted.
“We’ve got to create capacity to create other things,” Wood says. “It’s the other things that throw the curveball. It’s having the capacity to deal with the unknown projects that will come our way, and they will.”
Reporting provides the executive leadership team with the necessary information to make critical decisions going forward. “We work closely with sales leadership, forming mutual respect and trust,” Wood says. To develop a standard template for reporting their performance, both year-to-date and year-to-go with forecast projections, they did a lot of huddling over best practices.
A standard monthly report and a standard monthly business review satisfy the needs of sales leadership without creating too much administrative overhead.
“It’s about keeping the format succinct and clear,” he says. “And it’s about continual improvement.”
The New Buyer's DNA Decoded
In this edition, we present practical advice from CEOs, heads of sales, marketing, finance and HR. We take a look at how to adjust the hiring profile, demand generation programs, forecast and pipeline management process, sales management coaching cadence, sales methodology and the big deal inspection process.