Insights from #SDSummit: Driving Sales Efficiency with Sales Operations

The session about sales efficiency and operations at the SiriusDecisions Summit 2016 was focused on helping define what sales operations is and look at the frameworks in place to help sales ops professionals.

SiriusDecisions broke down sales efficiency by looking at the following elements: productivity and capacity. They define sales productivity as “yield per rep per hour”, where ‘yield’ is the revenue the rep is generating. And state that as a sales ops professional your goal is to use your sales capacity as efficiently as possible, as it is a limited resource. How your reps spend their time is important, if they are not spending it on core selling activities your yield will suffer. So in sales ops, your job is to drive efficiency into the whole selling activity.

There has been an interesting change in the sales operations function, as it has evolved from a tactical, reactive function to a primary driver of sales change.

Sales operations cross the entire sales ecosystem. There are challenges, including:

  • How to measure, manage and increase sales productivity
  • Improving revenue predictability
  • Maximizing return on value from investment in sales technology
  • Developing, managing, measuring and improving sales execution processes
  • Evolving sales operations capabilities and contribution.

The Relative Productivity Framework

This is a handy framework from SiriusDecisions to answer the question: where are your reps spending most of their time?

The problem that SiriusDecisions found is that many of the stages and steps in sales activities are mostly internally-focused. Unless you align the sales process to the buyer’s journey, understanding how the buyer makes decisions, you won’t be able to effectively move the deal forward. And that’s where the Attribute-Based Sales Process from SiriusDecisions helps, map buyer attributes with buyer activities, and seller attributes and activities.

Finally, as it relates to sales technology, SiriusDecisions says that it must fit the user and organizational needs across six key categories:

  1. Criticality: how crucial is this technology to the business?
  2. Risk: what is the likelihood of losing the availability of the tool to the sales organization?
  3. Fit: How well does the tool help fix the problem for which you purchase it?
  4. Scalability: As the organization grows, can the tool accommodate the increasing number of sales reps, products, users?
  5. Data: How secure is the data? How is data maintained?
  6. Integration: Is the tool for sharing the data across all the other platforms?

Another element that SiriusDecisions has added to their thinking is end-user engagement. According to SiriusDecisions, the end user must move beyond adoption to engagement in order to realize the full value of the technology investment. The journey is:

Insights from #SDSummit: Killing the Sales and Marketing Tech Stack

The SiriusDecisions Summit 2016 kicked off to a great start with a series of ‘foundations’ sessions talking about some of their core models and approaches. The first session I attended was the “Sales/Marketing/Product Technology”.

MT_Killing-salesHow do you select a technology? Which vendor should you work with? These are questions the session addressed. According to SiriusDecisions, you shouldn’t think about technology first, but assess your current capabilities inside the organization. How are you currently providing for that capability in the organization, where are you currently and where is the gap? This will help you focus on the specific capabilities you need a technology vendor to provide.

Another interesting piece of advice is for you to not look at a technology purchase from an organizational perspective, but rather from an ecosystem perspective. What are the key processes and capabilities that are required to support your business? The focus of your technology selection has to be on strategy so that you can ask “how are vendors going to operationalize my requirements?”.

There are five key challenges most companies face when it comes to sales technology:

  1. Selection: Understanding and navigating the market to choose the vendor that best suits the organization’s needs
  2. Enablement: Training and up-leveling individuals and teams to use the tools and services
  3. Measurement and Reporting: Establishing and maintaining accurate and actionable measurement and reporting to make smarter decisions
  4. Alignment: Managing proliferation and maintaining a tech and service portfolio that serves the needs of the business, not just its components
  5. Roadmapping: Developing a proactive technology and service strategy as well as a planning approach that aligns with long-term business goals

Killing the “Tech Stack”

The best idea I heard on this session was that there shouldn’t be a ‘marketing stack’ and a ‘sales stack’, terms that have become prominent and used to show the point technologies companies are using in their sales and marketing organizations. The problem with this terminology is that it has a silo mentality, that sales should go and look for its own solution set while marketing should focus on its own needs. The SiriusDecisions analyst had a great point, saying that the technology should be aligned to both sales AND marketing needs. Food for thought.