C  Users Patrick Seidell Pictures Obsolete Sales OperationsCertain elements of your planning process will always need to be addressed.  Setting Quotas, territory structures, headcounts and total compensation budgets are examples.  Planning for new analytics software, Business Intelligence platform or new/upgraded CRM?  If that covers most of your plan’s components, you better catch up.  In this post, I offer my Sales Ops Planning Evolution Guide to help you.

 

Self-Directed Buyers are the New Reality

You’ve seen the statistic in this space before.  57%.  The average B2B buyer is 57% done with their purchase decision before sales engages.  Our current data suggest they’re further along than that.  Have you adjusted your plan based on this continued shift of power and influence yet?

 

There’s solid evidence that your Marketing counterparts are responding.  According to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey:

 

  • 73% of marketing leaders are producing more marketing content than last year.
  • 58% have increased their content marketing budget
  • 30% of marketing’s entire budget is now devoted to content creation and distribution.

 

Increased use of blogs, video, webcasts and social media are aimed at the new buyer.  What about your plan for next year?  How will Sales Ops support sales in adapting to keep pace?

 

Where You Can Focus

With all that’s involved, adding more to your planning is a tall task.  Download the Sales Ops Planning Evolution Guide to help.

 

Sales Ops Planning Evolution Guide

 

If you don’t evolve quickly, your Sales Ops team will be left behind.  Here are a few summary points for you to consider as you finalize your plan for next year:

 

  1. Spearhead Social Selling Initiatives: What can you do to support sales in getting to the buyer earlier?  As the primary team responsible for sales tools, it’s time to re-evaluate.  Get LinkedIn upgrades.  Get the sales team trained on how to sell socially.  Click here for an example of building a referral program maintained in your CRM.
  2. Commit to Operationalizing Buyer Personas: If your company has personas developed, here are several tangible ways to do this.  Build the personas into your CRM.  Track pipeline and results by Personas.  Create tools such as call plans, discovery guides and opportunity assessments that are persona-based.  If you don’t have Personas developed, it’s past time – giddy-up.  For direction on Personas, click here.
  3. Align Your Sales Process to the Buyer: Does your sales process have stages titled “Qualify”, “Propose” and “Close”?  That should raise a big red flag.  It means your process is based on seller actions.  An outward-in approach is what’s needed today.  Movement through the sales process must be based on buyer actions, not seller activity.  Providing a process and tools that align sales activity to buyer actions works.
  4. Upgrade Your Talent: Your team has to evolve.  As a Sales Ops leader, this is up to you.  Sales Ops professionals that don’t really understanding your buyers will struggle next year.  Are your team members comfortable on sales calls?  Technical expertise is improtant but can they also glean insights from your buyers?  Do they have a clear understanding of how and why they buy?  Do they have a network that can be leveraged for sales?  If so, they’ll do a much better job supporting sales in making the number.

 

Enable your Buyers to Buy

In planning for next year, consider this one question.  Will this (initiative, budget spend, restructure, etc.) help our buyers buy from us?  Even your “standard” planning activities must be approached from this viewpoint. 

 

Your compensation plan must align to your strategy.  But your strategy must sync up with the market and your buyers.  Are your territories designed to maximize time with customers and prospects?  Are your quotas based on your ideal customer spend and ideal prospect opportunity?  Have you allocated headcount based on how your buyers want to be approached?

 

The new reality for sales ops planning is buyer alignment.  Be “outside-in” in all you do.  It’s time that sales operations got aligned.  Your planning process for next year is the best place to start.  Download SBI’s annual research report here for more planning resources.