Category: Sales Operations

Sales

6 Essential Risk Management Practices for Winning Sales Teams

If you worked as a doctor or sky-diving instructor, you would be well-versed in your job’s risk levels. It would feel like second nature to talk about it. Why not in sales?

Risk management in sales feels less like second nature and more like a second thought. Understanding your risk is essential for your business and the team’s ongoing health, but it doesn’t require rocket science.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is sales risk?

Sales risk is the uncertainty that can occur in the sales process due to issues with consumers or processes, sales failures, or product instability.

It’s essential to understand them because sales risks can profoundly affect the amount of money that your sales team is bringing in and hence cause problems for your bottom line.

Here are some of the best ways to understand and create better risk management for your sales team.

Risk Management Best Practices for Sales Teams

Create a checklist for every sale.

Checklists make it harder to miss the obvious. As Atul Gawande writes in The Checklist Manifesto, they help challenge bias and assumption and cause us to reassess our regular behavior patterns. Create a checklist of the critical steps and the clarity needed for each deal, and ask your reps to check it every time. Here are a few things to include:

  • Is the deal moving forward, and is your contact responsive?
  • Do you know if who you are talking to is the decision-maker?
  • Have you missed or skipped steps in the sales process?
  • Do you feel “weird” about the sale moving forward? Is something off?
  • Did you qualify the lead?
  • Has the close date changed, or is it unrealistic?
  • Did the value of the opportunity shift sometime during the process?
  • Is your customer still keen to buy?

Go through this list and any other questions you might uncover to assess if a deal is at risk of falling through.

Create clean data.

Bad data can cost U.S. corporations as much as $3 trillion each year. Critical data can be anything from profit margins and sales prices to information about your customers’ behaviors and contact with your company. Ensure that your CRM data is accurate and up to date and that your integrations that are pumping information into your customer records are working as expected.

Without clean data, your sales team members are at risk of providing incorrect quotes and may not offer the best possible customer experience. Close the information gap between your sales rep and your customer to create an even more straightforward sales process.

Get your strategy right.

What is sales risk, if not a reflection of the need to pivot your strategy to be successful? Avoid a full, out-of-the-blue shift by assessing your customer needs and wants regularly and updating your plan to reflect them. Perhaps the best example of this risk is Kodak, who ignored the changing technology tides and failed to update their combative strategy to defend themselves.

Spend time going over your learnings about your customer base to ensure that your strategy always fits their needs, and you aren’t going to get left in the dust.

Align cross-functionally.

Sales is a whole-company effort, and there is nothing that can cause more risk than a crumby hand-off or mishandled expectations. Disjointed handovers from marketing to sales at the start of the sales process or sales to customer success at the end of the sales process can be a deal killer and lead to churn.

Take time to set expectations internally about what the handover should look like so that you can set expectations with your customers.

Be proactive about performance management.

Risk management in sales should already be a big part of your team’s performance improvement strategy. According to Forbes, 57% of sales professionals miss their annual quotas. Is that your team? What are you doing about it?

Use a sales scorecard and have regular conversations with your team members about their performance to identify your organization’s sales risks. The more proactive you can be about these conversations, the better equipped you will be to nip them in the bud.

Offer ongoing continuing education.

Only 3% of people believe that salespeople are trustworthy, partially because salespeople sometimes sell parts of the product that don’t exist. This behavior isn’t entirely on the salesperson, though—they may be misinformed or undereducated on that part of the product and unable to reach out to get more information mid-call.

Regular training on your product and services should be a big part of your sales culture. Not only should your sales team be reviewing your training documentation, but they should also spend some time writing documentation of their own. By working through this process, your team will evaluate any gaps or weaknesses in internal knowledge or docs. The more understanding you can have about where you’re underperforming, the more work you can do to address it.

Make risk assessment part of your day-to-day.

It’s not about being ever vigilant, but the more frequently you talk about risk management in sales, the more comfortable it becomes.

Work every day with your team to make conversations more accessible and your opportunities to diminish risk more present. Create a checklist for ways to think about your own bias in the sales process. Ensure that your data is as clean as it can be by doubling down on your integrations and information in-flow. Manage the performance of your team and how you all interface with other teams within your company.

Lastly, continue to educate your sales team on your features, new and old, and give them opportunities to improve your documentation. So, to return to the first point, what is sales risk? It’s no big deal if you know where to look and take the time to preempt it before it happens. You’re on your way.

Sales

Why You Need to Implement Lead Routing [+ How…

Responding quickly to incoming leads can make or break a deal, particularly in highly competitive markets. The more mature a business gets, and the more complex the prospective customer’s needs are, the more challenging it is to maintain that speedy response and personalized touch.

Quickly growing businesses require more sophisticated automation to ensure operational efficiency, proper distribution of leads among their sales team, and to make sure no leads slip through cracks.

That’s what makes lead routing a critical component to any scaling sales strategy.

What is lead routing?

At its most fundamental, lead routing is the process of automatically assigning leads across a sales team, or through the proper sales model if your company has more than one sales approach, like self-serve, transactional, and enterprise.

Automated lead routing can be simple, such as a round-robin assignment to your sales reps based on who is next in line. Mature lead routing models take multiple factors into account, like deal value, territory or geography, use case or specialization, or a combination of multiple factors by a lead scoring system.

Unless you’re in a highly niche industry, chances are your business attracts more than one type of customer. Lead routing helps make sure the right prospects reach the right people, and at the right time, saving your business time and resources.

Lead Routing by Value

Companies like Slack and Dropbox popularize the hybrid approach of building a self-serve business in tandem with an enterprise one. This approach maximizes operational efficiency by keeping the most expensive resource – the sales rep’s time – focused on building relationships and closing larger deals while routing smaller deals to a low-touch, high volume, one-to-many sales model.

Tools like Clearbit can help pull in data about customer’s company size and value to pre-populate CRM data. Using this data, low-value leads can be handled by self-serve marketing automation (with a human touch provided by customer support teams answering incoming questions). High-value leads can be sent directly to sales teams to guide high value, complex deals through an enterprise sales process.

Lead Routing by Territory or Geography

For industries tied to brick-and-mortar stores or geographical locations, like manufacturing or real estate, defining territories is a common practice. Leads are assigned by location, enabling sales teams to divide and conquer regionally. Routing leads by geography provides certainty that reps aren’t stepping on each other’s toes with double coverage in some areas, while completely neglecting others.

For lead routing by territory to work, you must first define your territories and organize your CRM data around those definitions. With the right CRM and automated toolset, you can sort records into territories and assign leads to any reps working within that territory using round-robin automation.

Lead Routing by Use Case or Specialization

Many tools and systems, especially in SaaS, have multiple relevant use cases. A tool like HubSpot, for example, serves customer service teams, sales teams, and marketing teams, which all come with their own buyer personas, choosers, users, and influencers. Flexible tools like Trello might be used for anything from wedding planning to software bug triage.

Savvy sales teams know that industry expertise helps establish the trusted advisor relationship requisite to closing the big deals, which makes lead routing by specialization or use case increasingly important for enterprise sales models.

Let’s take an example of software targeted to creative firms, encompassing graphic design, animation, film editing, and illustration. It’s unlikely all sales reps will develop the expertise needed to speak to the needs of all of those varied professionals, even if they do sit under a similar umbrella.

Instead, you may have your top sales reps cover the largest deals that involve multiple products across a company, but route smaller, more specialized deals to reps who specialize in a particular area. Reps that specialize in the graphic design product can handle all deals that come in with that interest as an entry point, whereas those who specialize in the animation product speak to the animation firms who are interested.

Lead Routing by Lead Score

The most sophisticated sales models implement lead scoring as part of their lead routing process. Lead scoring assigns a quantifiable value to every lead generated for the business, usually by a numerical point system.

Leads can be scored on multiple attributes, including a combination of previously mentioned qualities such as value, geography, and use case, but also on qualities like engagement with your company and brand to assess the strength of the lead’s likelihood to close.

Lead scoring helps sales teams prioritize leads, and apply a more tailored approach to engagement, thereby closing more leads with less effort. Lead scoring can also help define whether a lead needs more time being nurtured, could close with a low-touch one-to-many approach, or requires the high-touch consultative efforts of a dedicated sales rep.

Route only those with scores ready for sales to your sales team to not only maximize time and efforts. This results in a happy and productive sales team by minimizing the frustration of poor leads.

How to Get Started

Getting started with lead routing is simple if you have the right tools, including a CRM with automation capabilities and a tool for lead scoring such as HubSpot partner MadKudu.

To develop lead rotation, you will need to:

  1. Define your lead routing criteria, like value, use case, territory, or lead score
  2. Create workflows or automations based on that criteria
  3. Qualify leads, which can also be done with lead scoring, and rotate between your reps

Setting up the automation with the proper toolset is easy, but there’s more to setting lead routing on autopilot when it comes to building a successful sales strategy.

In order to improve and optimize your lead routing, you need to know what’s working and what’s not. Monitor and report on the successes or shortcomings of routing by certain criteria to understand why routing and segmenting by some criteria work better than others for your sales team, customers, and product. Automated lead routing makes it easy to experiment and shift gears, so you can zero in on the most effective approach for your business.

Want more insight? Learn how to manage and nurture sales leads by taking this free Lead Management Training course from HubSpot Academy.

Sales

The Sales Manager’s Guide to Strategic Planning

Have you ever felt like your sales team is doing an okay job, but you know they could be doing better? Or, alternatively, perhaps you’re second-guessing some of your hiring decisions — could you have found a rep who would’ve sold more?

Fortunately (it’s a good thing, we promise), this may be due less to the people you’ve hired and more to the guidance you’ve provided.

For instance, if you’ve previously handed your salespeople a list of potential customers and sent them on their way with “You’ve got this!” ringing in their ears, you might actually be inhibiting your team’s growth potential.

On the other hand, if you provide them with a strategic sales plan that clearly outlines the company’s goals — and a thoughtfully laid out system to get there — you can expect your salespeople to impress.

Here, let’s dive into what a strategic sales plan is, plus how to make one for your own team.

What is a strategic plan?

If sales is a journey, your strategic plan is the roadmap you’ll provide your team to help them reach their destination. It is one of the most important activities you will ever do as a sales manager because, without it, your sales team will have no direction and no instruction manual to follow in order to achieve their targets.

This roadmap allows the company to focus on long-term revenue through both the retention of existing customers and the acquisition of new customers. They are often created with investors and shareholders in mind.

What are the benefits of creating a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is essential because if none exists, your sales reps are left to their own devices, making uneducated decisions based on the information they have in the moment. Without knowledge of the company’s long-term goals, you can’t blame your reps for falling short — they’re just working with what they have.

By creating (and following) a strategic plan, you:

  • Create a “North star” for your business by establishing a sense of direction
  • Allow your organization to be proactive instead of reactive
  • Make your team more efficient and productive
  • Increase profitability
  • Provide baseline expectations your team needs to meet when/if your team hits unexpected challenges

The Elements of a Strategic Plan

This document is sometimes created quarterly, but more often yearly, and it includes several different elements. By answering these questions, you’ll be able to create a robust strategic sales plan for your business. You don’t have to do this alone. Instead, I’d urge you to collaborate with some of your top salespeople, who likely have unique insights to offer.

What did your business look like last year?

Before you can decide where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been. A few things to look at (though not all!):

  • How much was sold?
  • Who on your team closed sales?
  • Who were the customers that purchased?
  • Will they be back for repeat business?
  • How long is your sales cycle?
  • Which clients took up the most time vs who had the highest revenue?

What does the market look like?

This includes information about your specific industry and the other companies playing in the same arena. Has anything changed from past years?

What is your value proposition?

What makes your product the right solution for prospects’ problems? What makes your company different than all the others who offer similar products or services? Now is a great time to do a SWOT Analysis to determine your:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Be honest. Sugar-coating this exercise won’t help you grow.

Who are you selling to?

This includes your target market as well as your buyer personas. Your answers from the prior year question will come in handy here. Knowing who buys your product is important. Knowing who takes up 80% of your time and only brings in 20% of your revenue is gold. Your buyer persona will tell you who your ideal client is, and who you should stay away from.

How much do you need to make?

What are your target revenue goals for the year? For the quarter?

How are you reaching them?

These are the strategies and tactics you will use to connect with your customers. They include:

  • Marketing tactics to attract new customers
  • Ways to grow existing accounts or bring back old customers
  • Methods for leveraging existing customers for referrals

Your sales process should be noted here, as well as the prices you charge and any planned promotions.

Who is on your team?

Outline the structure of your team and clearly communicate who is responsible for what — and by when.

What resources exist?

What tools will your team have access to in order to reach their revenue goals. What type of support will they receive from you, other departments, and outside sources?

Keep in mind that even after the company’s strategic plan is created, you will need to work with your individual salespeople to determine how they will meet their individual goals and create a clear plan for them to follow with check-ins and key performance indicators along the way. This will include:

  • Their individual revenue goals
  • How many sales that represents
  • How many calls it typically takes to close those sales
  • How much time they should spend on sales calls
  • How to work with existing clients and past clients to increase their purchases and give referrals

Strategic Sales Templates and Examples

Like most things in business, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch when there are wonderful examples to model your strategic plans after. Once you find one that fits your industry and your company’s structure, you can tweak it to meet all of your needs.

Here are a few examples to review:

  • A one page strategic plan
  • SWOT Exercise
  • Sales Strategy Blueprint
  • Sales Plan

If you want your sales team and your business to thrive, creating an annual strategic sales plan is the best action you can take. With a specific destination and a clear path to get there, your salespeople will have the tools they need to succeed.

Sales

How to Define, Calculate, and Manage Sales Backlog

More sales can mean more revenue and a bigger profit for your business.

However, as sales numbers grow, companies pass the point of being able to fulfill every order as soon as it’s made. The result is what’s known as a “sales backlog.”

Sales backlog is unavoidable. No matter how good your inventory management processes are, it’s impossible to fill all demands instantly.

But, a sales backlog isn’t necessarily negative. While it’s ideal to fill customer orders as quickly as possible, a healthy backlog shows that your product or service is in-demand, It also suggests that your company is seeing steady growth.

The caveat? If your sales backlog gets too big, it can lead to customer frustration, canceled orders, and — ultimately — lost revenue. On the other hand, if your backlog abruptly shrinks, it could be an indication of reduced demand or highlight issues with your overall process.

In this piece, we’ll tackle what sales backlog is, why it matters, and how you can calculate it. If you’re already entering a backlog, we’ll also show you how to manage it.

Aside from high demand, task backlog in other areas of your business — such as your production line or accounts payable department — can also be causing a backlog. For example, unexpected downtime in a production line can cause a backlog, as well as difficulty with suppliers.

The Importance of a Sales Backlog

While a backlog could mean your product is in high demand, you should still pay close attention to how big it gets and take steps to ensure customers aren’t waiting too long for their orders. As a business person, it’s important to know which types of sales backlog you’re dealing with.

Measuring sales backlog helps you assess company growth over time while determining when sales backlog becomes a problem.

Consider a business with the capacity to process 100 orders per week. When their brand initially launches and their product isn’t well-known or in-demand, they’ll likely have no problem meeting order targets every week. As their reputation grows and sales increase, they’ll begin to exceed their maximum capacity each week.

The challenge? While a steadily-growing backlog may indicate increasing demand, it can also point to problematic internal processes.

Let’s say that in our example above, the company has a sales backlog of 10 orders per week. One possibility is that they’re receiving 110 orders per week while their processing capacity remains at 100 percent, resulting in a steady backlog of 10 orders each week.

There’s another possibility that could lead to the same outcome: Diminished processing capacity. If fulfillment ability drops from 100 down to 90, taking 100 orders per week will produce the same backlog without the commensurate growth.

As a result, it’s not only critical to measure sales backlog but determine its source. If processes rather than purchases are responsible for the increasing value, this indicates a need to improve capacity planning and ensure fulfillment targets are met.

How to Calculate a Sales Backlog

Sales backlog is typically expressed as a ratio that compares daily, weekly or monthly order totals with order processing capacity. The higher the number, the smaller your backlog.

Sales backlog ratios are often shown in units or dollars depending on the needs of the organization. It’s also worth noting that, while backlog data may be shared with stakeholders or potential investors, it’s usually not disclosed publicly.

The simplest way to find a sales backlog ratio is by dividing the number of backlogged orders by the number of sales in a given time. Ideally, this is reported in days or weeks to provide more granular data about sales backlog.

Here’s what it looks like:

Sales backlog = Backlog of orders/Total Sales

Let’s use some numbers from our business in the example above. If they make 110 sales per week but have a 10 order backlog in the same period, the formula looks like this:

Sales backlog = 10/110

As a ratio, this is 0.09:1, which means that for every order, 0.09 orders are backlogged. If this number trends up over time while capacity stays the same, more orders are backlogged. If it trends down, total order numbers are falling and fulfillment is “catching up” to demand. While this is positive for customers in the short term, it’s not great for brands over time.

Ultimately, if businesses are only filling backlogs, that means they have no new sales and revenues will quickly decline.

Managing a Sales Backlog

Managing sales backlog effectively means understanding what the backlog ratio represents and how it impacts business operations. While initial backlog growth is generally positive, steady revenue combined with customer fulfillment will increase your company’s value.

Remember that unbridled backlog growth poses a problem. If backlogs continue to increase month over month — from 0.09 to 0.2 to 0.5, for example — it means customers are waiting longer and longer to get their orders. Eventually, consumers will get frustrated enough to cancel these orders and potential profit will be lost.

Balance your backlog with fulfillment rates

Best-case backlog management means finding a sweet spot between demand and capacity that keeps consumers happy while still growing your business.

Backlog management tactics might include adding new physical processing capacities or increasing the efficiency of specific processes — in this case, a decrease in sales backlog would be intended and effective. It’s also possible to temporarily inflate sales backlog with limited-time sales events or discounts, which can then be brought down to more stable levels over time.

Back(log) in Business

Sales backlog is a critical metric to help measure and manage business success. While not enough in isolation to drive steady revenue over time, understanding and managing this metric as it relates to total capacity and sales volume can help deliver sustainable success over time.

Sales

How to Simplify Your Sales Process, According to Reps…

A sales process is like a figure skating routine.

Both are guided by a series of predetermined steps — featuring promising buildup and a dramatic, bombshell conclusion.

The steps between prospecting and closing are essentially the same as those between a leadup like a camel spin and a finale like triple axel or backflip (which I found out is banned in competition while looking up figure skating moves to write this introduction because apparently, the figure skating world hates fun).

Yes, the two are fundamentally similar, and while neither salespeople nor figure skaters can deviate too far from their predetermined routines, they can certainly find ways to simplify those processes.

Figure skaters can sharpen their skates, practice specific techniques that help with multiple moves, and wear absolutely electrifying outfits to wow the judges like the one shown below.

Image Source: Cosmopolitan

And while no adjustments salespeople can make to their sales processes can touch the earth-shattering next-level-ness of that tiger costume, they can certainly take strides to make their professional lives a little easier.

We reached out to some HubSpot experts to get their takes on the subject. Here’s what they had to say.

Simplifying Your Sales Process

A sales process generally abides by some sort of step by step format — typically covering aspects of a sale like prospecting, connecting, qualifying, researching, handling objections, closing, and ongoing communication.

The steps and tactics that compose your sales process need to be specific and repeatable — that kind of structure defines the concept itself. That said, your process doesn’t necessarily need to fit some pre-built, cookie-cutter mold.

Though yours will likely cover the bases listed above with a consistent, somewhat systematic approach, there’s always room for some improvisation, creative tricks, and clever hacks to streamline and simplify your process.

Here are some of the approaches some HubSpot experts came up with.

How to Simplify Your Sales Process

Leia Dudek, Channel Account Manager

I’ve always had this thought of keeping it simple around the “why” behind why someone might buy — meaning, you may be able to uncover 45 things you can help a prospective client with, but you shouldn’t overwhelm them.

Instead, identify three or four high priority items you can address and use to close the deal. Once you identify those items, repeat that process. Ask for confirmation that these are the areas they want help with and even have the prospect rank them.

If you do your job right, you just ask the questions and they give you the answers to the test.

Lyndon Burke, Senior Account Executive

My sales process usually gets overcomplicated after discovery when I move into demoing the solution and addressing objections. One of the biggest causes of this trend is being caught trying to tailor a solution to all of a prospect’s pain points and challenges. That leads to more objections and additional required steps coming up that I didn’t uncover as we continue the sales process

One tactic I use to simplify the sales process is ranking their pain points or challenges and understanding those that are most important to them — typically just one or two — and focusing the demo around those points. This reduces the likelihood of introducing additional variables into the process.

In HubSpot’s case, our solutions can solve lots of problems. If we’re too wide-ranging, we run the risk of opening up the scope of the evaluation and bringing in extra stakeholders. That tends to make the process more complex and, in turn, considerably slower.

Mintis Hankerson, Senior Sales Manager

One way I have simplified the sales process for reps is by thinking of the process of selling in more human terms. I built what I refer to as my “iceberg chart” — based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

It compares selling to our emotions and behaviors, allowing us to understand why we act the way we do and how we sell. What’s “under the surface” of our behavior is also “under the surface” for why customers buy HubSpot.

Here’s what that chart looks like:

Simplifying your sales process iceberg

Dan Tyre, Sales Director, HubSpot Employee Number 6

I have five key points I check off when I try to simplify my sales process:

1. Use a scheduling link.

If you are still scheduling your meetings in email, stop now! You can get a free HubSpot scheduling widget that puts your schedule in the hands of your prospect.

It lets them schedule the time and the time zone, so they are more likely to attend. Also, they can see a picture of you. Additionally, it automatically converts to their time zone, and they can schedule however long a meeting they need.

2. Schedule a 15-minute conversation to see which stage the prospect is in at the very beginning.

You need to see where they stand — whether that be education, consideration, or decision. That will help inform your approach and prioritize your time.

3. Ask your prospect, “How can we make this easy for you?”

It’s a great question that can simplify the sales process. Sometimes I’ll even write it down like a flow diagram, so we don’t miss anything as we step through the process — the real complexity stems from any curveballs that get thrown your way, so being as thorough as possible is key.

4. Explain your entire sales process early in the process so the prospect knows what to expect.

If a prospect is in decision mode, I’ll let them know that we’ll move from connect to discovery to solutions overview to answering questions to being ready to start. That process generally takes about 15 days, and I’ve actually sent prospects a diagram of how we do it.

5. Finally, start every call with a review of both what we’ve already done and what we still need to do.

That way, we start on the same page — precisely where we are at.

Sales processes can be tricky to establish, abide by, and see success with. Both finding and consistently carrying out a process that delivers results without taking too much out of you might be a tall order. That’s why you should always be looking for some ways to streamline and smooth out whatever one you’re working with.

Articles

Sales Dashboards 101: Your Key to Becoming a More…

 

Imagine watching a basketball game without a scoreboard. It would be nearly impossible to understand what was happening or who was winning.

Now imagine playing in that game. It would be difficult to know how far behind or ahead you were, how much time was left, or what you needed to do to win.

That’s what selling without a sales dashboard is like.

But a sales dashboard is only useful if it’s done well.

What is a Sales Dashboard?

A sales dashboard gives your team a fast and efficient way to see all the data that is most important to doing their job effectively.

Most customer relationship management (CRM) tools have the built-in ability to create dashboards for your team. This can be convenient since the CRM is likely where most of your sales data already resides.

There are also 3rd party programs that integrate with your CRM, though. Some of these give you more customization options.

These are tools like:

  • Zoho Analytics
  • Klipfolio
  • TapClicks
  • Slemma

Why Use a Sales Dashboard?

You may be asking yourself, “if a dashboard is just pulling data from my CRM, why not just have your reps look at the CRM itself?”

CRM data can be difficult and time-consuming to sort through. This not only takes time away from selling, it can introduce a lot of opportunities for mistakes.

With a sales dashboard, though, your reps can quickly see where they are in relation to their goals and identify trends and opportunities that will help them close more deals faster.

Sales leaders can use a dashboard to understand the game their team is playing as they sell and identify where reps may need help or extra training.

Now, let me take you through a step-by-step process to build a great dashboard that can give you visibility and insights into your sales execution.

3 Steps to Set Up a Successful Sales Dashboard

#1 Decide What Metrics Matter

Every dashboard should be customized to your needs and unique to your organization. Your dashboard should consist of KPIs or metrics that define success for you and your team.

It should have input metrics as well as output metrics. It should have lead metrics (like activity) and lag metrics (like pipeline and closed-won). And you also need to incorporate double click metrics (DCMs) to give context to the number on the dashboard.

For example, our pipeline is at 125%, however, when we double-click that number, we see that we only have 30% of the opportunities we should have. This adds to the risk of the business as the pipeline is full of large deals that may swing either way.

Who is the dashboard for?

At the end of the day, the list of metrics you can include on your dashboard is nearly endless and will depend on your unique needs.

To begin figuring out what to include on your dashboard, identify who will be using the dashboard.

You need to make sure that everything they need on a daily basis is front and center and that nothing they don’t need is cluttering it up.

A dashboard for frontline reps will look very different than one for a sales manager, for example. The data a manager needs to effectively keep track of their team (like onboarding metrics) would only get in a sales rep’s way.

That being said, there are some metrics that you’ll find in almost every dashboard. So, let’s look at a few we should consider

Closed-Won:

This is the total amount of revenue booked in a measurable period. Most likely this will be measured by month, quarter, or year.

This metric is used to measure a sales team’s deliverables against a target set by the management team.

This metric is also used to pay out incentives to sales reps based on their individual or team quota achievement (this is likely the part your reps care about most).

Supporting the closed-won metric are some double-click metrics like:

  • Average Sales Cycle: The average time taken for a deal to close from the date it entered the sales pipeline.

This metric can be tracked to see the efficacy of the sales teams and/or maturity of the product-market fit.

  • Average Sales Price: The average value of a deal that closed in the system.

This metric allows you to predict the entry point for most customers and can also help in creating bundles.

  • Number of Deals: The total number of deals that contributed towards the close.

This metric is used to calculate risk in the business. If you have fewer clients, the risk of churn is higher than if you have a larger client base.

Pipeline:

This is the total amount of opportunities that have a likely closure in the given time period.

This metric is used to predict if a team will be able to reach their closed-won targets.

Typically a team will use historical data to decide if the pipeline needs to be 2x, 4x, or even 8x that of the closed-won needed (often called Pipeline Coverage).

Supporting the pipeline metric are some double click metrics like:

  • Aging: The time a deal has been in the pipeline since inception. Aging can also focus on the time a deal has been in a particular sales stage.

For example, a deal has been 20 out of the 30 days in the demo stage (which is 4x longer than the 5 day average for this stage), what’s going on there?

This can be used to understand the health of a pipeline.

Having multiple deals in multiple stages is a good sales motion. For example, if every one of your prospects is in the contracting phase, that may overwhelm your legal team.

  • Average Sales Price: What’s the average sales price of the deals in the pipeline.

This metric allows you to gauge the confidence of a team or team member to sell big. Most under-confident reps and managers will have smaller deal sizes.

This metric also allows you to differentiate between your team being truly productive or just plain busy.

  • Pipeline by Source/Product: The source of your pipeline generation and the product for which the pipeline is being created.

Activities:

The number of sales activities your team is participating in is a great way to understand the overall productivity of your team and how the pipeline will develop.

Email, inMails, and Calls are the biggest source of meetings and must be tracked at an individual sales rep level.

This allows you to see exactly which reps are succeeding or struggling at exactly what activities. And this, cross-referenced with some of the other data on your dashboard cna give you a good indicator for where you may be winning or losing deals.

Cross-departmental metrics:

Consider including metrics that are owned by other functions that still affect sales.

These could be metrics like expense ratio that you share with finance, churn with customer success, and MQLs with marketing.

#2 Consider the Design and Flow Carefully

The design and flow of your sales dashboard is incredibly important. You could set it up to just show a bunch of important numbers, randomly scattered about, but you’d be missing out on the real benefits of a dashboard.

By making things visual, and organizing the data carefully on screen, you make it easier for reps to read and you can guide users across various metrics to make diagnosing issues and identifying trends much easier.

For instance, bar charts are great, but when we use stacked charts we can break down the components that make up the bar chart. And if we add colors to the mix we can illustrate whether the metrics meet our goals or not.

Using colors like green for meeting goals and red for missing goals can give numbers meaning on a dashboard. It also makes it much easier for your reps to see at a glance how well they’re doing.

Flow

When considering the flow of your dashboard, one good rule is to keep lag metrics on top. The downward flow will allow you to troubleshoot or co-relate the performance of the lead metrics below based on the lag metric above.

For example, if you have closed-won on top, you may have a pipeline chart below it, and an activities chart below that. This way, if we miss our closed-won numbers, we look at the corresponding pipeline and then corresponding activities.

Put any extra details you have in a report rather than a dashboard. This allows for diagnosis-deep-dives in case of a performance drop or increase without cluttering the dashboard itself.

Let’s look at some of the charts we can use to add these metrics to the dashboard

Stacked charts:

These are used to break quarterly numbers down into monthly numbers to understand the pacing of the team.

It allows you to see which months are skewing the performance so you can see where you need to direct your focus.

For example, in the example below, Q4 is clearly the largest contributor to the business given it is the year-end.

Numbers:

Just using numbers may seem simple, but there is a lot you can do with them to make them more visual and pack even more information into them.

Numbers on their own are often not very helpful. It can be easy to get lost in a sea of them.

Give the numbers context by coloring them depending on whether the performance is good, acceptable or bad. And organize them next to related numbers and charts, so it’s easy for your reps to see at a glance where they stand and how each metric affects those around it.

For example, below, the average deal size is healthy however it has taken a toll on the sales velocity and increased the average sales cycle.

Donut charts:

These are used to breakdown the contributions of various teams, products, and lead sources to understand the complete picture.

You can also align this to the selling cycle to understand what the health of the pipeline is.

For example, below we can see if your pipeline has been created by a single rep or a shared responsibility of the team. It also shows whether you are creating more pipeline for your high-margin products or low-margin ones.

Stack rankings:

are great for gamification and help create healthy competition between teams and individuals.

This information can also be used as a coaching tool. You can use it to see if reps are comfortable sending emails versus picking up the phone or track the behavior of your top reps, so you can use it as a model for others.

Gamification can be an important part of your toolkit as it allows you to direct your reps’ focus.

For instance, if you want your reps to focus more on cold-calling, you can make that metric a scoreboard that is always visible.

#3 Connect it to Your Data

Your dashboard is only as good as the data that supplies it.

If you are building a dashboard inside your CRM or if you’re using a dashboard platform that integrates with your CRM, keeping your dashboard itself updated is relatively easy and requires little to no work.

If you use excel or something else to store your data, or if you’re using a tool that doesn’t integrate with your CRM, you will likely have to manually transfer the data.

That’s why the real power of dashboards is unlocked when you use APIs to automatically pull data into your CRM so you can eliminate any manual data processing which can be slow and faulty.

An Example Sales Dashboard

Let’s take a look at a sample dashboard for Michael Scott, Regional Sales Manager at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Inc.

As you can see, the dashboard has a distinct flow. It has sections for lag indicators on top and lead indicators below.

It also looks at other metrics that are important to building a healthy business.

Every component of your sales dashboard should contribute to the overall understanding of your business and how the different metrics affect each other.

Finally: Be Flexible

The goal is to create a tool that helps your reps be fast, agile, and data-driven. But you may not get it perfect on your first attempt.

That’s ok.

You don’t need to know everything your dashboard needs before you start. It is a living document. You can update it and change it as you identify gaps and as your team develops.

So, start somewhere, and be flexible.

The post Sales Dashboards 101: Your Key to Becoming a More Data-Driven Sales Team appeared first on Sales Hacker.

Sales

What Does a Sales Analyst Do? We Break It…

Considering a career in sales but want something that pushes the limits of a traditional sales rep’s role? Enter, the sales analyst. It’s a sales operations role that’s less about selling a product or service to customers and more about selling next steps and solutions to your internal sales team.

The result? A career and career path that draws heavily on your ability to think critically, analyze complex data, and communicate your results clearly to peers and executives.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the career trajectory of a sales analyst and what you can expect to earn at each stage. Finally, we’ll look at real-life sales analyst job descriptions, so you know what to expect when you start the hunt for your next move.

Sales Analyst Career Path

1. Sales Analyst

A sales analyst’s job is to increase sales and revenue for a company. This is achieved by running competitive analysis, conducting forecasting, and making recommendations on how the sales, marketing, and other teams should move forward.

A sales analyst might even coordinate with the marketing team on how to run successful campaigns, or work with the supply chain team to make production or inventory run smoothly.

While there are no specific education requirements you’ll see across the board, a bachelor’s degree in statistics, math, market research, or computer science is a plus — and a master’s degree in a related field can increase pay and make promotions more accessible.

2. Senior Sales Analyst

The next step in your career growth is as senior sales analyst. It generally also means a pay bump — with an average annual salary of $79,347. The responsibilities are similar to that of a sales analyst, but may call for more advanced data collection, statistical software use, and the conversion of complex data into easily digestible presentations, graphs, or reports.

This role might also be more client or management-facing, sharing the results of a whole team of analysts. Many senior sales analyst positions require, or strongly prefer, a master’s degree in market research or a related field, but certifications can be a valuable way to boost your resume. The International Institute of Market Research and Analytics offers a Certified Market Research Professional (CMRP) exam worth looking into.

3. Financial Analyst

Forecasting, long-term financial planning, and operational and financial reporting are just a few of the skills you’ll hone in on this position. It might sound similar to a sales analyst position, but it requires you to focus on one area and master it.

Your ability to analyze results in Business Intelligence (BI) Applications like Looker, Tableau, or Qlik will give you a leg up when speaking to your experience creating data models. And forecasting to increase team or business efficiency, business planning, and staffing requirements will broaden your scope outside that of a traditional sales analyst.

With greater expertise comes a higher salary. Financial analysts receive an average base salary of $70,809 annually.

4. National Account Manager

If you’re ready for a new challenge, you might make the eventual jump to national account manager. In this role, you’d serve as the liaison for client relationships, communicating sales and marketing messages and assisting in the management of the account.

Outlining sales goals, defining budgets, and setting margin targets are tasks you’d oversee. You’d also likely provide monthly or quarterly sales overviews outlining wins and challenges the account faced over that period of time.

You might also work directly with the legal team to iron out proposals and other contract initiatives. Finally, working to add value to existing accounts would be an important part of the role.

Whether developing promotional materials or desirable services or programs for your clients, searching for new ways to keep them as a customer is a major focus for this type of role. The good news? The average annual base pay for a national account manager increases to $95,000. 

5. Sales Operations Manager

A sales operations manager still relies heavily on your ability to use BI software, analyze data, and interpret results that will drive strategic decisions. But instead of being client-facing, your focus rests internally on supporting the front lines of your sales team.

You should expect to need expert-level Excel and SQL knowledge, have experience solving complex business problems, and maybe even have an M.B.A.. The average base pay for a sales operations manager is $97,370 annually.

6. Finance Director

Once you’ve proven your ability to manage the financial health of a sales team, you might be ready to take on more responsibility as a finance director. In this role, you’ll be responsible for your company’s overall financial well-being. Both operational and strategic, you’ll put your forecasting skills to use creating a financial roadmap for the business.

You should have demonstrated experience analyzing and communicating complex financial information and be familiar with the software your company uses. Show your history of reporting, creating strategies, and communicating results in a concise, jargon-free way. The national salary average for a finance director is $136,475.

7. Director of Sales Operations

As director of sales operations, you’ll work with many of the analysts and other previous roles we’ve discussed to identify an overall strategic vision and roadmap for the sales organization at your company.

You’ll likely develop key performance indicators for your salespeople to hit, meet with sales leaders to discuss challenges and ways forward, and listen to your analysts to determine strategic steps forward in your industry.

You’ll lean heavily on your analytical background to understand the information presented to you. And at this stage in your career, you have at least 10 years of experience and a proven track record in the business. Base pay for this position averages in at $132,132 per year.

A sales analyst may be asked to work across sales, marketing, and even supply chain departments. Forecasting will likely be a crucial part of the role, and you should demonstrate excellent communication skills.

For example, you might consider sharing a time when you condensed complex or technical information into a palatable and easy-to-understand presentation — and make sure to mention how you measured success.

You should be comfortable sharing your results with executives and demonstrate the ability to not only diagnose problems but implement solutions as well. Have statistics or predictive modeling experience or class work? Be sure to mention that. And highlight any experience in Excel, Demand Caster, Net Suite, or other statistical software, also.

If you’re like me, you learn best by seeing things in the real world. So, here are a few actual job descriptions for sales analyst positions and above.

Sales Analyst Job Description Example

Image source: Encore Access

Sales Reporting Analyst Job Description Example sales-reporting-analyst-job-descriptionImage source: HubSpot

Financial Analyst Job Description Example

financial-analyst-job-descriptionImage source: HubSpot

Sales Operations Analyst Job Description Example

sales-operations-analyst-job-descriptionImage source: HubSpot

So, do you think a sales analyst role is right for you? If so, jumpstart your industry knowledge with this ultimate guide to strategic planning for perfect sales operations.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 6, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Sales

Channel Partner Conflict: How to Manage When It All…

Effective sales channels have the potential to help you grow your business to new sales opportunities. This might involve resellers earning a commission on your product or strategic partners bundling in your software with their own. Either way, channel partnerships can put your product in front of more buyers.

What could possibly go wrong? Unless your two resellers find out about each other, or they start targeting the same customers you’re prospecting internally, or your strategic partner starts offering a lower price than you. These scenarios can create a channel conflict.

When manufacturers disrupt their established intermediaries’ ability to sell their products directly to consumers, a channel conflict may arise. This is because the distributors, retailers, affiliates, agents, and any other channel partners who work with the manufacturer lose an opportunity for revenue, creating a competitive scenario.

Let’s walk through an example of channel conflict.

Elaborating on this example, the eCommerce partner began targeting individuals who previously purchased the products from affiliate partners through online advertising. This created a channel conflict, because the online retailer and affiliate partners began targeting the same customers, with one partner having an advantage in being able to sell more product at a lower price. 

By empowering their eCommerce partner to sell to consumers at a discounted rate, the retailer can now potentially cut into earnings for their affiliate partners who rely on the ability to sell their products at retail value. There is also the risk of customers being able to stock up on discounted products during the flash sale, which could impact their willingness to buy from affiliate partners for months to come. 

That’s just one example of what a channel partner conflict could look like. Let’s take a look at other common conflicts and how to avoid them.

Conflict 1: Market saturation

If your product helps your partner sell their existing products more effectively, it’s in their best interest to pursue a market penetration strategy. This means they will target a broad pool of customers and potentially go after your existing prospects. After all, it’s less about the sale of your product and more about starting their relationship with a new customer to sell their whole suite of products.

This leads to your product winding up in the hands of bad customers (wrong market segment) with the potential of cannibalizing existing deals. So, how do you avoid winding up with this issue from an overly aggressive channel partner?

Solution 1: Set clear boundaries on customer targeting

Are there certain regions or customer types your partner cannot touch? Setting clear boundaries in the contract will ensure your internal sales and marketing unit can function without worrying if your partner will swoop in and take over the relationship.

You should also add qualification criteria for when you’ll accept and reject a deal. Bad customers will create problems for your support team and, ultimately, impact you more than your partner with their churn. This is why having the final sign-off before a prospect gets approved for the product makes sense for your team.

Conflict 2: When your partners talk to each other

There’s nothing wrong with having multiple resellers for one product. It’s easy to split them up by region or even customer type (mid-market vs. enterprise). It might even stand to reason you get them different splits on revenue depending on what they bring to the table (tier one support, installation services, etc. … ). But, what if they talk about your product and realize someone is getting a better deal?

Solution 2: Transparency around who you work with today and why

Horizontal channel conflict is hard to manage, especially with companies that could consider themselves competitors. The only way to mitigate the risk here is to lay all your cards out on the table during the contracting process.

Tell your potential partner who you are working with, what restrictions they have (i.e., geography, market segment, etc. … ) and lay out your typical channel relationship terms. If you make an exception for a partner make, sure you’re getting extra value.

Ask yourself, if another partner found out about their deal and offered the same value, would you provide the same terms? That’s a good sign you’re on solid footing to partner with both companies.

Solution 3: Create a quarterly review cadence

Partnerships need to change as businesses change. Get face time with your partners several times a year to see how they’re doing and if there are ways you can help them be more successful.

In turn, this helps you get in front of potential conflicts and accelerates your relationship. I recommend a standing quarterly meeting and at least one face-to-face meeting annually to keep the relationship on good terms. If things come up, don’t be afraid to ask for an amended contract. A built-in annual review helps here as well.

As true partners, you win and lose together. By establishing clear boundaries, having an open conversation around who you work with, and setting terms for the partnership, you set yourself on the path to success. By reviewing the relationship regularly, you’ll also ensure you won’t fall out of it.

For more advice on managing channel partnerships, check out The Ultimate Guide to Sales Channels.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for cohesiveness.

Sales

Strategic vs. Tactical Planning: The What, When, & Why

Whether you’ve set personal or business goals, you likely created a plan to achieve them. Without clearly defined steps, it can be difficult or even discouraging to tackle the goal you’ve set.

One example of a situation where planning and strategy come in handy is during a job search. Let’s say you’ve spent weeks or months scouring the internet for a new sales job, but none of the job postings seem to match your skill set or career interests.

Have you taken a step back and thought about a specific type of sales job you want? And did you consider the most important qualities you’re looking for in an employer or career?

Your online job search will become less tedious and disheartening if you have a clear set of objectives to follow. While you might get more search results for “sales manager“, you’ll find jobs that are a better fit for you if you clarify by searching for “senior sales manager – medical devices.

With your new search strategy, you’ve identified a seniority level and the industry you’d like to work in. And the next steps you set for yourself are to periodically repeat this search and only apply to the roles that seem like the best fit for you and your career aspirations.

Thinking strategically helps you narrow down your search and use your time more effectively. Plus, you’ll increase the likelihood of landing a job that’s a great fit for you.

Once you aced your interviews and landed the perfect sales job, you’ll find that these types of planning, strategic and tactical, are used by many businesses and sales teams to set themselves up for success.

Your strategic plan provides the general idea of how to reach a goal, and the tactical plan is where you lay out the steps to achieve that goal.

Since the objectives set in the strategic plan are more general and evaluated over a longer period of time, strategic planning typically occurs at the beginning of a year, quarter, or month. And strategic plans should be reviewed every quarter at least.

Tactical planning occurs after the strategic plan is outlined, and the tactical plan can be reexamined on a more frequent basis — if need be.

Here are some high-level examples that touch on the difference between the two types of planning. 

Strategy vs. Tactics

Let’s consider the perspective of a hypothetical company mulling over different strategies to improve different aspects of its sales operations.

Sales Recruitment

    • Strategy — We want to develop a repeatable evaluation criteria for hiring the right salespeople. 
  • Tactics — We will pin down the specific qualities the company wants out of its salespeople, draft appropriate questions to shed light on those qualities, and train recruiters to conduct interviews based on those key tenets. 

Smarketing

  • Strategy — We want to improve sales and marketing alignment.
  • Tactics — We will clearly define the qualities marketing needs to find to consider a lead an SQL, encourage collaboration between departments on the creation of sales content, and hold interdepartmental syncs to address results and planned campaigns. 

Technological Infrastructure 

  • Strategy — We want to build a more sound, technological foundation for our sales operations.
  • Tactics — We will adopt a CRM, incorporate a conversational intelligence tool for improving sales calls, and pursue more virtual sales enablement resources.

Taken together, the strategies and tactics a sales organization employs  — like the ones listed above — comprise what are known as sales plans. 

Sales Plans

A sales plan encompasses both strategic and tactical planning and contributes to an organization’s overarching sales strategy. It outlines the broad goals your sales team and reps should strive for, and it creates an action plan to reach them.

The strategic plan sheds light on the mission, objectives, and future goals of the organization or individual. Managers, VPs, and executives typically create strategic plans for an organization, but this type of plan can also be used by individuals to achieve personal or professional goals.

These are the key components to include in a strategic plan:

  • Mission and background of the business or situation: Where do you currently stand? And where do you want to be in the future?
  • Goals and objectives: What would you like to achieve?
  • DRIs (directly responsible individuals): Who are responsible for these goals?

Strategic and tactical planning provide guidelines for businesses, teams, and individuals to follow. And the tactical plan outlines exactly how they’ll achieve the final result.

Once you’ve created your strategic plan, it’s time to determine the tactics you’ll use to reach your goals. This is where the tactical plan comes into play.

It’s used to outline the steps a business or individual will need to take to accomplish the priorities that have been set. Here are a few things to consider when developing your tactical plan:

  • What is the timeline for achieving these goals?
  • Are there tools or resources that are necessary to accomplish these objectives?
  • What specific actions should be taken to achieve the intended outcome?

Your tactical plan will provide the answers to these questions to help you meet the objectives of the strategic plan.

So, what do strategic and tactical planning look like in practice?

Tactical Planning Examples

While strategic and tactical plans can vary by company or industry, there are some that can apply to many sales organizations and teams.

Here are a few examples that are common for sales teams and reps. The strategic plans are numbered, and the tactical plans are outlined below.

1. Fill my pipeline with more leads over the next two weeks.

  • Spend an hour prospecting each day.
  • Leverage social selling, and join five LinkedIn Groups that your prospects belong to.
  • Attend an industry networking event.

2. Close more Enterprise deals each month.

  • Enroll reps in a hands-on training session in your Enterprise product offerings.
  • Set a goal for each rep to schedule at least three demos with enterprise-level prospects this quarter.
  • Create an incentive for those that close the most Enterprise deals in the month.

3. Hire 20 more entry-level sales representatives by the end of Q1.

  • Create a hiring profile that candidates should meet.
  • Develop a LinkedIn outreach campaign to find and attract new talent.
  • Attend career fairs at 15 local universities.

With a solid strategic plan and a detailed tactical plan, you’ll be well-equipped to achieve your goals. To learn more, read the ultimate guide to sales operations next.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published inFebruary 28, 2019and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Sales

Sales Operations Manager: What They Do, How Much They…

Would you like to become a sales operations manager? Or are you considering hiring one?

If your sales team needs effective systems to help them be more productive and effective in their roles, it’s likely time to hire a sales operations manager.

For job-seekers, if you are a systems-thinker who enjoys refining and implementing sales processes, you may want to consider taking on a role as a sales operations manager.

So, what key skills and experience should a sales operations manager have? Let’s dive in and take a look.

When a sales organization begins scaling to support a growing company, sales operations becomes a vital function. With more customers and revenue comes more KPIs to track, and more complexity for the way teams sell.

Sales operations managers are responsible for developing and overseeing a smooth, effective sales process to enable the growth of the organizations they support. In other words, sales operations managers and their teams take care of everything reps need to have in place to support their ability to sell.

Here are some of the key skills effective sales operations managers need to have.

Leadership and prior sales operations experience are often required for a sales operations manager role. Sales operations managers often report to a VP or director of sales operations. A bachelor’s degree is often required, and a higher level of education like a master’s degree might be recommended for those applying to senior operations manager positions.

Now that we know what the key skills and qualifications are that are required for the role, let’s review the key responsibilities of a sales operations manager.

1. Oversee the sales funnel.

The sales operations manager is responsible for making sure contacts are moving through their company’s sales funnel smoothly. The individual in this role should be tracking conversion rates through each stage of the funnel, analyzing pertinent data so they can make sound recommendations for how to improve the funnel’s performance.

Additionally, while managing the sales funnel, the sales operations manager should be privy to any sticking points that could impact sales velocity and should propose and implement solutions for improvement.

2. Streamlining and optimizing the sales process.

Chances are your organization has gone through the necessary exercise of creating a sales process. But when was the last time you ensured the efficacy of your sales process and made improvements? If your team doesn’t have the bandwidth for this, having a sales operations manager on board would be helpful.

A qualified sales operations manager can pinpoint areas of your team’s sales process that could be costing you valuable deals. In addition to identifying these areas of opportunity, a sales operations manager can propose and implement solutions to keep your sales process in top shape.

3. Selecting, implementing, and managing sales automation tools.

Does your sales stack provide your team with the tools and capabilities they need to do their jobs? Is your organization getting the most out of the systems available to you?

Your sales operations manager can ensure your sales team has the tools they need to succeed by evaluating usage and capability of the tools you currently have.

Additionally, a sales ops manager can source and manage the implementation of sales automation systems your team needs in the future.

4. Manage CRM data.

While we are on the topic of your sales stack, let’s discuss your CRM. For most sales teams, the CRM system is the most widely used and significant tool in their stack. However, even with a powerful CRM in place, your team can’t reap the full benefit if your system isn’t optimized for your team.

Having a sales operations manager on board who can manage contact lists, ensure that your CRM data is up to date, audit data for consistency, setup automations, and manage custom fields and data can make a huge difference.

If several reps are working out of your CRM using their own naming conventions, adding duplicate contacts, and creating their own customizations can cause things to get messy, sacrificing efficiency.

When you have a key point of contact who can make sure your most valuable data is up-to-date and consistent, it makes the job of your entire sales organization much easier.

5. Perform sales forecasting.

While your reps may be laser-focused on meeting their individual goals, it is imperative each member of your team understands the broader goals they are all working towards.

Having a sales operations manager on your team who can manage forecasting and data analysis can provide valuable insight into your team’s performance, and what’s needed to continue growing the business.

In addition to forecasting relevant data, your sales operations manager can regularly share this information with your team and stakeholders to maintain alignment on key performance indicators.

6. Work with sales leadership to develop organizational goals.

In addition to forecasting and managing key performance data, sales operations managers can work with their sales leaders to provide data-driven input on future organizational goals.

The sales operations manager can be a point person for relevant data analysis that informs compensation decisions and future sales targets.

7. Lead a team of sales operations professionals.

Depending on the size and complexity of your sales organization, having all of the sales operations responsibilities fall on one person can be a large undertaking.

For large and enterprise organizations, having a team of sales operations analysts may be more appropriate. In this case, the sales operations manager would be tasked with leading this team, and overseeing their activities to ensure the tasks and responsibilities related to sales operations are taken care of.

Ready to bring a sales operations manager onto your team? Here are some resources to support the hiring process.

The sales operations manager typically builds reports that are used by salespeople, sales managers, and leadership to inform decisions based on historical data, present-day results, and future forecasts.

Sales operations manager job descriptions often vary by company or the experience level the company is hiring for. Here are a few additional sales operations manager job description examples.

Sales Operations Manager Job Description Examples

1. Sales Operations Manager Job Description

This sales operations manager job description was created by Hewlett Packard.

Image Source

2. Senior Manager Sales Operations Job Description

The senior sales operations manager job description was written by Skillsoft.

Senior Sales Operations Manager Job DescriptionImage Source

How to Prepare for a Sales Operations Manager Interview

For those seeking a role as a sales operations manager, take time to carefully prepare for the interview process.

One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview of any kind is to anticipate the kind of questions the interviewer will ask, and to have clear, thorough answers demonstrating your capabilities.

Here are a few questions that may be similar to what you’ll hear while interviewing for a sales operations manager role.

Question 1: Tell me about a time you faced resistance when implementing or changing a sales process. What action did you take, and what was the result?

This question is about change management. Sales operations managers are often tasked with implementing and improving processes. While this is ultimately for the better, getting team members on board with new and changing processes can be a common challenge.

If asked a question of this nature, use this as an opportunity to discuss how you support a team navigating a significant change to how they work.

Question 2: As a sales operations manager, you’ve been tasked with identifying bottlenecks in your sales team’s processes. Walk me through how you would identify and mitigate a bottleneck.

This question gives you the opportunity to share your problem-solving skills. As a sales operations manager, the ability to identify and solve for sales inefficiencies is a major part of the job. Take some time to review your work history and come prepared with concrete examples of how you were able to uncover and fix a problem resulting in better sales process efficiency.

Question 3: Tell me about a time you’ve been tasked with processing and analyzing a large amount of data. How did you approach your analysis, and what systems did you use?

Sales operations managers are often tasked with managing large amounts of data. Whether it’s to support their team’s budgeting efforts, or sales results, an effective sales operations manager must be able to read, interpret, and make sound recommendations from relevant data.

Use this question as an opportunity to show off your data analysis skills, and provide solid examples of similar projects you have been tasked with. Don’t forget to explain the actions you took, and the results.

Sales operations managers are key to running a successful sales operation and enabling your sales team to do its best work. To learn more, check out this ultimate guide to strategic planning next.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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