2 Oct, 2018

Sales Policy Creation – Linking Strategy with Sales Operations

Blog Image

In recent posts we have been answering a question we get a lot: “What is Sales Operations?”  We have defined the roles and responsibilities of the Sales Operations job, and have started looking at each of those responsibilities.

We last looked at Sales Strategy & Planning, which is how a company sets its vision and lays out the path to get there.

In this post we dive into the next step: Policy Creation.   We’ll focus on “What (are Sales Policies),” “Why (do we have them),” and “How (do we make them).”

What are Sales Policies?

Sales Policies are the rules that govern sales organizations as they go through their daily motion.  Policies guide how business gets done – how people interact with each other, what to do in certain situations, how technology systems work and integrate, and a host of other things.

Is a sales organization split by industry, where certain people cover healthcare companies while others cover financial services? Sales Policy.  Are there rules that a salesperson can’t move an opportunity to the next stage unless they’ve spoken with a particular person at a company? Also a Sales Policy.  What about needing manager approval before offering a discount? You guessed it – Sales Policy.

Sales Policies exist everywhere in a sales organization, and a well-operating company ties its policies closely with its Sales Strategy and general business priorities.  Take, for instance, the goal of getting new sales reps up to full productivity.  There are many policies tied to ramping new reps, and we have listed some below:

  • Business Objective: Introduce new Sales Reps to the Organization as quickly/effectively as possible
  • Example Policies (including, not limited to):
    • Onboarding: New reps need to complete certain training before taking on accounts.
    • Account Ownership: New reps manage a certain type of accounts to start.
    • Account Handoff: Old reps hand off accounts to new reps in a certain way.
    • Incentive Compensation: New reps are paid a  certain way in the first few months.
    • Quota Target: New reps have a certain quota target in the first few months.
    • Existing Opportunities: Opportunities that another rep created are treated a certain way.
    • Tasks by Stage: New Reps complete certain tasks at different stages of a sales cycle.

Policies exist for every business priority, and align tightly with company strategy to move everyone in the same direction.

Why do we have Sales Policies?

Creating Sales Policies is a critical component for putting strategy into action.  No matter how good an idea is, or how defined a company’s vision, unless there are tangible ways to implement it then there will be little chance of success.  Sales Policies ensure that sales activities align with the company strategy.

Take the example that we provided above, where a company is trying to reduce the time that it takes to onboard a new rep.  What if there is no onboarding structure? What if there is no policy for experienced reps handing off accounts to new hires? Sales managers and sales operations staff will tell you – managing without policies in place causes significant headache, detracts from the company’s goal, and hurts performance.

Many of our customers have shared experiences with us that show issues when there are no policies.  In one instance, eight collective hours of manager and rep time was wasted in a dispute between two sales reps that worked the same deal.  Who should receive credit? Everyone had an opinion, and no one agreed.  In another instance, a company outgrew a policy that let every rep see each other’s territory.  It made sense when there were 5 reps, but not with 30, and it became an issue when everyone began looking over the fence to see what accounts other people had.  This brings up an important point: Issues that arise from lack of sales policies also become larger as a company grows.

Bottom line: create sales policies! Doing so prevents issues from coming up, and allows people to focus on the important things.  We recommend creating an official “Sales Policy Handbook” that lists every policy in one place, so everyone can refer to it when questions arise.

How do you determine the right Sales Policies?

Creating the right sales policies is important to a company’s performance.  Poor sales policies are as bad, and sometimes worse, than no sales policies at all.  Company’s creating new sales policies should follow these steps:

  1. Consider your Business Priority. What are you trying to do? Hopefully this is a natural flow from Strategy & Planning.
  2. Brainstorm potential policies across Sales Ops functions. Policies exist with Sales Enablement, Data Governance, Compensation, Account Ownership, Territory Assignment, Account Handoff, and many others. Make a list!
  3. Evaluate policies on their attractiveness and achievability. Select most attractive and most achievable across all functions
    1. Attractiveness: will this policy significantly help us get to our business goal?
    2. Achievability: is this policy possible, and low relative cost to the business?
  4. Consider how your policies will change as your company does. A Sales Policy Document is a living document and changes as a company does. The more flexibility you can have in your sales policies from the beginning, the better.

Following these steps will make sure your sales policies, and by result your teams, align with your business priorities to drive performance and growth.

Where does fullcast.io stand?

Sales is dynamic, sales teams are constantly evolving, and companies need strong platforms to support that.  At fullcast.io we believe this starts with the policies – that the best way to build scalable sales organizations is by implementing the right sales policies and aligning them with go-to-market strategy.  Our software platform and business partner services support that goal, and allow companies to elevate their sales operations functions to focus on driving and sustaining growth.

Interested in learning more? Email info@fullcast.io.