Process Optimization for Sales Operations professionals is like a technicians tinkering with a machine – experiment, learn, and improve.
We’ve done a few things in recent posts:
- Summarized the Sales Operations Job Cycle, describing the infinite loop of processes in the Sales Ops function.
- Dove into Sales Strategy & Planning, which is how a company sets its vision.
- Discussed Policy Creation, which is how companies implement their vision, through policy and processes.
The next step in the Sales Ops Job Cycle is Process Optimization. This is the responsibility of Sales Operations to constantly evaluate and improve upon the way a sales organization works, with customers and within itself.
In this post we provide you with examples of process optimization and discuss our Five Steps for optimizing processes.
What is Process Optimization?
Our posts so far have limited Sales Operations to “Strategy” and “Policies.” Any sales operations person knows this is short-sighted – it restricts the view to a “discrete” process. In reality, Sales Ops is constant work, and there’s no greater example than the never-ending activity of optimizing processes.
We’ve outlined a few sales processes below, along with the questions and metrics addressed when optimizing. In the far right column are potential outcomes of projects that optimize processes.
|Process Examples||Considerations||Optimization Outcomes|
|Lead Routing||- How are leads currently routed?|
- Is our capacity maximized across segments?
- Metrics: sales cycle, close rates, coverage, pipegen, sales qualification
|- Leads are re-routed to under-utilized resources, improving close rates
- Re-allocation of marketing resources means higher ROI
|Sales Stages||- What happens at each stage? (e.g., Qualifications, Demo, Additional Sales Support)|
- Metrics: time in stage, deal size, close rate, sales cycle
|- Sales resources adjust to different sales stages and decrease sales cycles
- Earlier demos improve close rates and increase deal size
- New requirement for qualification yields better pipeline quality
|Marketing → Sales Handoff||- What constitutes a qualified lead?|
- How and when does a handoff happen?
- What data is stored/ processed?
- Metrics: close rates, deal size, deal type, deal source
|- New definition of “qualified lead” yields higher close rates and shorter sales cycle
- New handoff process yields bigger deal size and greater account continuity
|Renewals||- How often is sales &/ or customer success engaged with customers?|
- Metrics: customer engagement, QBR
|- Better customer engagement yields higher renewal rate
- Greater Sales relationship yields more “upselling”
|Quote-to-Cash||- How are quotes created? |
- What pricing exists for whom?
- How are discounts handled?
- Metrics: sales cycle, deal size, close rates, cost-to-serve
|- New software implementation reduces cost to serve, increases customer LTV
- New pricing processes improves deal size and reduces sales cycle
|New Account Creation||- How are new accounts created? What fields are required, by whom?|
- Where is new data from? When to use various data sources?
- Metrics: # new accounts, data quality (missing fields, duplicate accounts, etc.)
|- Change in process allows faster account creation, and more prospecting opportunity
- Improved data quality means greater clarity through downstream analyses (i.e. AI-based forecasting tools)
Each of the above examples outlines a different process in the sales organization, and there are many others out there. Maintaining a good grip on each is challenging, and requires a lot of effort from all stakeholders.
So, How Do You Do It?
Below we have the 5 key steps for Process Optimization in a Sales Organization:
- Establish Your Goal – Are you trying to get close to the customer? Do you want to maximize Sales? Come up with goals that can be measured. Defining your goal and tying a metric to it allows you to evaluate later steps in a rational way. Note the initial value of the goal you set does not matter as much, since you’ll be revisiting later.
- Experiment – Have an idea that might work, but no evidence? Test it out! Here is a great article by Harvard Business Review that discusses how to set up a business experiment and test a hypothesis. Setting up the right test can quickly validate whether an idea is valuable to your business.
- Analyze Results – You’ve completed your experiment, and want to know the results. Did it work? Well, look at your metrics (remember, you set a goal in Step 1 that had them?) – comparing your test group’s results with a control group benchmark, or an industry benchmark, allows you the perspective you need to determine whether the idea worked.
- Replicate Successes, Eliminate Failures – Simple. Take the ideas that didn’t work and get rid of them – either to never see the light-of-day again, or put them on a shelf to try again at a different point in time. The successes? Roll those out across the company, aligning key stakeholders to own accountability.
- Repeat Steps 2-4 – Process optimization is a continuous cycle, after all, so it’s back to step 2 to continue tinkering and iterating on processes to improve where possible.
These steps work across processes, and allow businesses to make better and faster decisions.
One important thing to note – this tinkering should happen with as little disruption as possible, and only where the potential gain outweighs the cost. Tinkering for the sake of it can disrupt the daily motion of a business and cause more harm than good.
How does fullcast help?
At fullcast, we are a company of sales process optimizers. After years of working through broken processes or unintegrated sales tools ourselves, we developed a streamlined platform that grows as your business does, and is flexible as you develop your own business design and rhythm.
Take some a couple of examples:
- A $2.5B IT Organization has moved its sales planning process completely out of spreadsheets and into our Design Platform, allowing unprecedented collaboration, planning, and system integration.
- A $50M CPG Company has reduced sales administrative work by over 50%, allowing more interaction with customers and more time to sell.
- All of our customers have simplified their sales processes, reducing wasted time working in their CRM and freeing up more time to sell.