Take a wandering look through the “job boards” and you will face a seemingly never-ending volume of open requisitions to hire sales professionals. Direct sales, indirect sales, internal sales, channel sales - more flavors than a Baskin Robbins or latte variations your Starbucks barista can announce in a day. You will note in most if not all the job descriptions the ubiquitous “join a fast-growing, cutting edge company now”. I immediately translate those bullets and phrases to: “be ready to prospect, qualify, quote, close, process orders, document, assist marketing, turn over projects to operations and provide customer service every hour of every day”.
Hiring sales professionals is an expensive and essential business investment. Even with the most efficient onboarding processes, and prudent “seeding” of their business book, most sales professionals, who have the luxury to focus 100% in selling, hit their stride four to six months after their hire date, and become “fully productive” on or about their first anniversary. Think now what happens when you tax their sales time to help marketing qualify a lead, help finance complete credit checks on clients and prospects, help legal complete MNDAs and other documents, help operations and customer service teams manage the client expectations. You are using a wrench to drive a nail.
The functions listed above are a very narrow sample of all things “quote to cash” and should be handled or aided by a sales-centric organization, but I firmly believe that they are not the core function of, and distract from the mission of the sales “hunter team”. These functions belong to a well-organized and formal Sales Operations team.
My position is not merely based on the issue of time management or load sharing, although on the financials associated with those operational efficiency losses alone, the justification for a Sales Operations team stands true. In addition to being a very expensive investment to be considered for activities other than selling, my position considers the that “hunters” in general are not an “attention to detail”, procedure-driven or documenting group that loves spending time in the proverbial “business weeds” - where businesses can be made, or break. That is why you have a Sales Operations team.
The well-organized and defined Sales Operations team -
- Helps “hunters” stay on target, and work with them (not “for”) to bring deals efficiently.
- Coordinates with all business functions and minimizes the quote to cash cycle time.
- Saves the corporation real COGS dollars by efficiently grooming the sales machine.
- Protects the corporation profits by preventing costly order mistakes before they happen.
- Incorporates Sales’ point of view, the voice of the client into all business operations.
- Helps your team increase and expedite top-line sales.
Sales Operations is not a function staffed by clerks or “aids”; but by a different kind of sales professional that adds value to the corporation bridging the gap between the hunters and the office team. It is a function that solves problems before they arise, and “digs-in” day in and day out so that the right kind of opportunities and leads are booked, and converted quickly into revenue and profits.
Having a Sales Operations team and function is not just something reserved for the Fortune 500. It is a discipline; a well-staffed function and the associated processes that those who seek or enjoy success should formally establish, to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their corporations before they spend $0.01 in technology. Better yet, so that all the filled requisitions for “hunters” yield the results they were meant to deliver.