A Tale of Three Sales Processes

July 26, 2016 Mark Emmons

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The challenges for sales and marketing operations pros never end. Dirty data. Frustrating tools. Inefficient workflows.

Turning a revenue-generating machine into a well-oiled engine isn’t easy. And there isn’t one, single way to design a productive selling process, either. It’s different for every company.

With that in mind, the recent “Sales Operations Fireside Chat — A Tale of Three Sales Processes” webinar took a deep dive into how a trio of up-and-coming tech companies are solving the data problems that every B2B organization confronts.

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The key takeaway: Operations specialists have opened up a whole new world of possibilities that previously wasn’t available to sales teams because of their understanding of technology.

“The primary role of sales operations is to remove barriers for the sales team,” said Brian Belli, sales ops lead with DataFox. “. . . You’re the offensive coordinator. You’re not the quarterback out on the field like Joe Montana or Steve Young. You’re not the head coach like Bill Walsh. But it’s imperative that you’re in the huddle and helping with the execution of the plays.”

Belli was joined by LeanData Vice President of Sales Brian Birkett and Invoca Sales Operations Director David Aguilar as they provided details about their respective organization’s tech stacks, lead management systems and strategies to make reps more productive. And while there are similarities to their approaches, each one has a system tailored specifically to the needs of his business.

“But having a strong, fundamental structure is crucial for any team,” Aguilar added.

Mike Dorsey, the co-founder of Datafox who moderated the webinar, said his company found something interesting when it recently conducted a survey of sales operations job postings. There was a stark contrast between the skill set expected by established companies and what newer businesses want as they prepare for rapid growth.

“CRM administration is much more important at younger companies as well as building the internal tech stack for the sales organizations,” Dorsey said. “It’s become a highly technical job to piece together the solutions and build an efficient system.”

That much was clear as Belli, Birkett and Aguilar described their processes. Some other webinar takeaways included:

  • The productivity you get out of the tools is what’s most important, not the size of the stack. LeanData, Invoca and DataFox all use a dozen-or-less technologies to support sales efforts.
  • Sales ops are constantly re-evaluating technologies. “If there are better solutions out there, we’re always willing to look at them,” Belli said. “It’s always on the sales operations folks to know how the tools you have are working.”
  • Data is instrumental for sales and marketing to work as a cohesive unit. It’s not about who gets credit for success — just that the business is successful. “Myself and our CMO are aligned around the metrics that really matter,” Birkett said. “So there’s no question about who is responsible for what. At the end of the day, we’re both moving the business forward.”
  • Maintaining accurate information in a CRM is crucial both as a measurement of the overall business and individual sales reps. “For us, Salesforce is the bible,” Belli said. “If it doesn’t exist in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist. That allows us to run really powerful analytics on everything from activity metrics to pipeline tracking.”
  • Operations pros are focused on streamlining tasks to make a rep’s job easier. For instance, Belli and Birkett both emphasized the importance of creating a lead flow that ensures immediate follow-up from the appropriate rep when a prospect shows interest.
  • Automating as much of the process as possible allows reps to focus on non-technical aspects of the job — such as the persuasive part of sales.

The panel also agreed that a data-driven approach is the best way to create a repeatable, scalable blueprint that gets the most out of a sales team. But whatever process you create, it will need to be flexible.

“Don’t be afraid to change,” Birkett said. “We have an entrepreneurial spirit here at LeanData. We’re constantly testing, evaluating, trying out new tools and new messaging. It allows us to think outside the box and make sure we don’t get stuck in a rut where we’re just doing the same thing over and over.”

For Belli, it comes back to the analogy of the sales operations specialist as a football offensive coordinator.

“After the play is over, it’s important to huddle up again and see how the tools worked and where the process can be improved,” he said.

The webinar, which includes a question-and-answer session, can be viewed here.

 

About the Author

Mark Emmons

Mark Emmons is the staff writer at LeanData. He previously was a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at mark@leandatainc.com.

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