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Blueprint for Building a Playoff Worthy Sales Organization

By Chanan Greenberg

No matter the sport, it seems like a handful of teams are perpetual contenders in their respective playoffs and “big game”: The Patriots in the Super Bowl, Brazil in the FIFA World Cup and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup. These teams, for the most part, keep churning out winning seasons year in and year out for decades. What are they doing right? They’ve developed a clear formula for consistent success and stick to their top priority. For some, that’s getting “good enough” talent at the right price, rather than shelling out top dollar for top players at the detriment of making other moves.

Like the teams that continue to make their playoffs, sales organizations that consistently perform at the top of their game are few. Most sales organizations are struggling. In fact, the average sales organization only attains 55% of its annual sales goals, according to Aberdeen. This drops to 45% on average for sales organizations in high-tech organizations. It’s surprising given the number of highly sophisticated tools at the sales team’s disposal—700 new SaaS sales technologies were released in 2017 alone.

The problem sales teams face is very basic: no one element of sales operations stands out as a clear priority.

On the other hand, best-in-class sales organizations have distinct priorities. The top performing sales organizations, which achieve 80% to 100% of their annual quota, focus on optimizing revenue potential at every point in the sales process. Across the six elements of sales operations, 77% of top performers prioritize improving deal/opportunity management capabilities and 61% prioritize establishing end-to-end revenue management of sales operations.

Top performers are 81% more likely to connect sales actions to revenue, beyond closed-won deals. They understand the actions and attributes that drive sales wins, and thereby how to improve. Their sales teams are able to identify, dissect and duplicate effective sales efforts. In the simplest terms, they know what works and programmatically enable sales reps to deliver.

5 Building Blocks for End-to-End Management of Sales Ops

    1. Align partner/channel efforts around business performance and customer experience. Top performers ensure a positive customer experience across all channels. They are able to oversee and control all sources of revenue from direct selling to revenue from distributors and resellers. Partner/channel management solutions are a key enabler and top performers use such solutions at 2.5x the adoption rate of all others.
    2. Aggregate insights to drive effective action. Opportunity forecasts are critical for effective sales operations. Sales organizations at the top of their game can define and track opportunities as well as predict how or when they will close over time. Most of these organizations also practice “solution selling” so reps can better cater to customer needs. They employ integrated CPQ and guided selling platforms or sales playbooks to help reps deliver.
    3. Increase effectiveness of pricing tactics with technology. More than half of top performers use price tables, business rules and conversion rules for price management. They are 74% more likely to use price optimization solutions to construct and manage these rules.
    4. Tackle rebate/incentive management struggles head on. The best sales organizations recognize and convert cross-sell and upsell revenue opportunities. Nearly half of top performers track price/rebate performance as a way to analyze customer and partner performance in the use of incentives. They increasingly lean on CPQ technology to keep up with how packages, offerings and discounts get deployed and managed in the sales process. 
    5. Mitigate the manual elements of contract management. Sales organizations that replace or minimize manual tasks with automated workflows perform at their peak. Top performers are 79% more likely to deploy contract management solutions. By following repeatable contract lifecycle steps from contract creation and approval to signing, these sales organizations maximize speed.

Sales can be chaotic. When done well, sales operations can bring order amid the chaos. With end-to-end revenue management, sales organizations can systematically improve all efforts and establish repeatable formulas for success. Consistent success is not some unattainable fantasy, but rather a goal with a clear blueprint outlining how to get there. Sales leaders who embrace an end-to-end process will deliver a championship worthy performance from their sales teams and pull ahead in a highly competitive high-tech market.

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