Sales and Operations Execution Best Practices
- Successful sales and operations execution is the result of consistent and replicable sales cycle progressions that achieve targeted outcomes. A streamlined and repeatable selling process is a prerequisite to consistently achieving revenue forecasts and scaling company growth.
- Sales cycle improvement methods increase effectiveness (measured in sales conversions) and efficiency (measured in sales cycle duration).
- Sales cycles are never perfect, so improvement programs are a continuous journey that delivers continuous benefits. Applying sales and operations execution best practices will accelerate the journey.
Engineer, statistician, professor, management consultant and all-around business guru W. Edwards Deming advised, "Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the systems and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better."
The Sales Excellence Report found that advice was not lost among the Best-in-Class performance leaders (the top 15 percent) who continuously apply improvement techniques to increase win rates, decrease sales cycle duration and grow salesforce quota attainment.
The survey data surfaced statistically significant correlations between sales cycle execution programs and quota attainment.
But there were many sales cycle execution programs. So, to discover the most effective, the performance archetypes were categorized by win rate and salesforce quota attainment and then compared to individual sales cycle execution improvement methods.
7 sales and operations execution programs moved in unison with win rate and quota achievement. Participants who adopted some combination of these programs improved performance execution and many achieved Best-in-Class quota attainment. The data is shown below.
The research found that improving performance is not achieved with a single technique but instead, a collection of improvement methods that create synergy and a cumulative effect. Below are the top seven sales operations and execution best practices used by the Best-in-Class leaders.
This improvement method streamlines and automates selling processes in order to root out excess cost, achieve repeatable execution, increase staff productivity and enable scalability.
One area where sales process reengineering differs from other techniques is its propensity for work elimination. This method does not assume the current processes are the right processes to achieve the intended goals. It instead first measures for effectiveness and then for efficiency. If you start with or only focus on efficiency you will make the mistake of optimizing ineffective or unimportant selling processes; many of which deliver little or no value and can be eliminated.
Guided selling processes replicate the behaviors and actions of the top producers so other sellers can achieve similar results. They apply CRM software automation to deliver prescriptive advice during the sales cycle. Using CRM to just capture data is near meaningless. Data has no value unless it produces a user, customer or business outcome. Guided selling automation uses data to deliver time savings and improved conversions.
Playbooks with Best Practices
Sales Plays are born from quantitative research and deliver prescriptive guidance, often in the form of best practices, at exactly the point where they can be applied to achieve a defined business outcome.
They are not pie in the sky suggestions, but instead specific execution instructions that are proven to achieve specific results. The research found that the Best-in-Class leaders used sales playbooks 2-times more frequently than their lower performing piers.
Selling Productivity Methods
There are three ways to improve sales productivity. You can redesign processes to be more streamlined and effective, apply technology to automate manual tasks, and develop analytics to work smarter.
The Best-In-Class archetypes use all three techniques so sellers spend more time engaging customers than their peers and less time researching prospects, creating correspondence and carrying out administration and reporting.
Selling Enablement Programs
Selling enablement programs use a combination of content, coaching, training and technology to deliver differentiated and valuable customer engagement during the early steps of the selling process. These techniques are effective in improving opportunity conversions and lowering sales cycle duration.
The best sales dashboards permit real-time predictive modeling to show how changes in behaviors or actions impact outcomes. They display forward looking analytics and project the financial impact of both action and inaction. It's this level of reporting that shifts information visibility from hindsight to foresight.
Analytics are the insights generated from customer and sales data. They are created from technology that harvests, models and predicts trends and outcomes.
The most successful businesses are defined by their ability to collect and curate the right data. They harvest data for analytics that make insights actionable at every customer interaction or customer decision point. It is a complex undertaking which is why those who succeed achieve competitive advantage over those who don't.
The Best-in-Class archetypes benefited from multiple selling improvement programs, but not necessarily at the same time. You don't need to adopt them at all. Choose the one that works for you, achieve the benefits and then move to another.