Sales Operations leaders are awash in a sea of metrics. Dashboards tell you the status of funnels and pipelines, of quotas and attainment. But when was the last time you measured time?
Of all the metrics to choose from it’s hard to identify one more meaningful than time. It is foundational. We all have the same amount of it.
When Sales Operations maximizes selling time for Sales, the other metrics improve naturally. Salespeople get more time to build better relationships with customers and prospects. More time to nurture future opportunities. More time to prospect and make sales calls. More time to make their number instead of wasting time on inefficient business processes.
How can you find time in your schedule to save time in the selling process? Make time to download our Annual Research Report for starters. You’ll see what others are doing to increase selling time and improve sales performance.
Time for strategic impact
A few years ago, a Fortune 500 executive challenged his Sales Operations team. He asked them to justify their annual projects in terms of time. To view each project by how much selling time it would return. This was a departure for his team and for the departments that supported Sales. They had previously justified their projects using a traditional ROI method.
This executive understood that Sales Operations could directly impact time. By improving processes and increasing selling time, he was making a strategic impact. Every project was measured in ‘return on time’. Those that had the biggest impact were prioritized and funded above the others.
Over time, the sales processes became more and more automated. Handoffs between organizations were instantaneous. Service level agreements were reduced or eliminated altogether. Statuses of various handoffs or process steps were visible online. As a result, the Sales team had more time to sell every year. And, over time, the Sales team in that Fortune 500 company outperformed its competitors.
Are you operating tactically or comprehensively?
Sales Operations is commonly seen as a collection of tactical functions that support Sales. This is sub-optimal for two reasons. First, it limits the impact that a Sales Operations team can have. A Sales Operations team that is small and transactional will have a similar impact.
Second, improvements made in Sales Operations might have a negative impact downstream. Without a comprehensive view, Sales Operations might inadvertently make processes less efficient elsewhere. For the best results, Sales Operations must work across all processes that touch Sales.
Saving time becomes the rally cry
Finance, HR, help desks, IT, and Marketing all touch sales processes at some point. Sales Operations teams that work across these organizations can identify time savings opportunities. Sales Operations becomes a proactive agent of process improvement wherever Sales is involved. The goal isn’t just to return selling time to Sales. The goal is to make processes more efficient and more effective for everyone. Who doesn’t want to save time?
What is your ‘return on time’?
Our Annual Research Report revealed that 78% of Sales teams do not have the correct strategy in place. This includes Sales Operations. Having the wrong strategy wastes valuable resources. It also wastes your time. Sales Operations leaders who return time to the selling process have a winning strategy.
Not sure where to begin? Here are some ideas:
- Go on a ride-along: When was the last time you spent a day in the field? What about your team? Are they cube dwellers or are they engaging with Sales teams to observe processes? There is no substitute for experiencing things directly. By observing what the Sales team goes through you can identify process improvement opportunities. This should be happening regularly, especially in a dynamic environment where processes are changing.
- Conduct a time study survey: Sales people love to give you their opinion. A survey focused on how much time they spend on specific tasks is enlightening. For a small investment of time you can identify several areas of potential time savings. And the Sales team will appreciate being asked for their input.
- Audit the business processes: Do handoffs between departments occur as smoothly as possible? Do manual processes exist where automation can improve speed and accuracy? Even the best business processes need auditing every year or two. Make sure you are identifying processes to audit every quarter. Collaborate with departments where task handoffs or data exchanges occur in the sales process. Identify opportunities to automate or improve the efficiency of the handoff. Lastly, make sure service level agreements between departments support an efficient sales process.
It’s time to get started
Our Annual Research Report has an entire section devoted to Sales Operations. Download it now and review it to discover processes that can be optimized. Better yet, sign up for our free 90-minute workshop. A Sales Operations expert will walk you through the research personally. This collaborative session will identify areas to improve in order to increase selling time. It won’t cost you anything but time.