The top sales organizations collect the sales data necessary to answer the vital sales questions, track performance against strategic objectives, predict future outcomes, and support ongoing decision-making. That is a tall order indeed. So how do they do it?
Here are four steps we have captured as standard operating procedures for sales operations teams to put in place. Review this article as a check-point to validate your team isn’t cutting any corners on the minimal requirements of data collection. To review best practices for how to leverage your CRM system, download our workbook and turn to pages 323 – 325 of the PDF to review the Systems phase.
Step 1: Design a process for decision-making
The first thing best-in-class sales operations do to get their hands around the process for making decisions within sales. The graphic at the top represents one enterprise view of how the SPM process spans multiple disciplines within the Sales function (e.g. Compensation Planning,) and requires system integration (CRM, Knowledge Management, Marketing Automation). It also needs to connect the day-to-day activity of front-line sales professionals with the boardroom strategies driving the business.
Step 2: Inventory your Decisions
The best way to do that is to first inventory the decisions made by and for the Sales organization. Find out who decides what, when, why, and most importantly, what data so they need to make that decision. It is easiest to assess and inventor decisions at three levels:
- Sales Reps
- Sales Managers
- Sales Executives
Each of these communities will have a different set of data needs, decision frameworks, time horizons, and degree of accuracy. Sales performance management addresses each one separately to optimize the data flow to them and for them.
Step 3: Stop Reporting on ‘nice to have’ Data
Once you have inventoried the data and compared it to the decisions that need to be made the result will be a great mass of sales reporting that is no longer needed. Typically this was the fruit of some exercises long ago forgotten and no one has re-evaluated the need for the data. You can save a lot of cycles just by cutting out this legacy sales reporting activity.
Step 4: Institute a Periodic Sales Data Audit
So that your efforts do not become a one-off improvement, the final step is to set up a periodic audit of data collection, reporting, and usage. This job typically falls to the sales operations function and can be woven into their other annual planning tasks as it relates to the re-issuance of the corporate and sales strategies. Doing this every so often ensure that the data made available to all levels of the organization is timely, relevant, and tied to the decision-making.
The most popular sales operations article in the past quarter is from our guest Christopher Fris, Vice President of Global Sales Strategy and Operations for Ryder Systems. His podcast guest appearance show was focused on how to support the sales plan with sales operations.
For a comprehensive resource of best practices for your systems, download our workbook and turn to pages 323 – 325 of the PDF to review the Systems phase.