Three Ways Sales Operations Can Drive Sales Process Maturity

Last week, we discussed how sales operations can help organizations achieve sales objectives by leading, not just by doing. We looked at sales process as a lever that can remarkably impact sales performance and as an area for sales operations to take on a leadership role. Today, let’s continue the focus on sales process and look at three ways sales operations can drive sales process maturity.

Sales process is a common focus area for sales operations. And it’s more than just outlining steps and phases. It includes continuous defining and refining of the selling processes that align with the targeted customers’ buying processes. The key words to make note of here are defining and refining. Defining a sales process is foundational–especially if an organization is still in the startup phase. But how often do organizations refine their sales process? When was the last time you updated your sales process? If you answered I don’t know, you are not alone.

When we looked at organizations and their sales process maturity, only 27.9% of organizations had a sales process that was dynamic (dynamic is defined as not only formal, but also continually refined and modified based on analytics to align with the customer’s path) (2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study). Click here to read more on the different levels of sales process maturity from last week’s blog. When we further looked at win rates, organizations with a dynamic process had win rates 14.9 points higher than those with a random process. (Click to tweet)

This means that even though a more dynamic process results in better win rates, only a bit more than one-quarter of organizations are actually able to leverage this huge performance driver, and three-quarters still do not… a huge opportunity for sales operations to step in and lead the organization to a more mature sales process!

Let’s take a look at three ways sales operations can drive sales process maturity, with the goal of making it more dynamic to drive sales performance.

Three ways to drive sales process maturity:

  • Align your sales process to the customer’s path. How an organization refines its sales process will vary depending on its maturity and business need. However, there is one foundational step that all organizations should consider: aligning your sales process to the customer’s path. Our studies have found that sales process alignment to the customer’s path is linked to higher quota attainment. Organizations saw an improvement of 8.9% in quota attainment when they effectively aligned their selling processes to the customer’s path, but only one-fifth actually achieve this alignment (4th Annual Sales Enablement Study). You can start by looking at things from the customer’s perspective. Instead of identifying seller activities that are needed to close a deal, consider how the seller can help the buyer complete their buying actions and make decisions that advance each phase of the buying process.
  • Make ongoing adjustments. Ongoing adjustments can be just as impactful as an entire overhaul. Just as a piano is an instrument to be played by the pianist to make music, a sales process is an instrument to be leveraged by the sales team to achieve success. When the pianist plays the piano and the sound quality is poor, the pianist might consider replacing the entire piano; however, it would be simpler and just as impactful to more frequently tune the piano. Similarly, when the sales team’s performance is at risk, on one extreme an organization can look to replace the sales team or overhaul its go-to-market approach; however, a simpler approach would be to tune and adjust the sales process more frequently, based on data and driven by market and customer needs. The adjustment can be as simple as reordering the sequence of the sales process steps, deleting unnecessary steps or adjusting the desired outcomes between the customer and sales representative in one of the steps. Continual adjustment to the sales process is key to making it more dynamic. Sales operations can make these simple adjustments after validation with sales teams and other stakeholders.
  • Leverage data and analysis. If the sales process is integrated into CRM and/or other sales productivity platforms, an organization can leverage the data and analysis available to it to make proactive adjustments to the sales process. For example, if the conversion rate from initial meeting to qualified opportunity stages is low, it could mean the qualification criteria used to schedule the initial meeting may need to be revisited. If opportunities are stalling after the demo stage, the qualification criteria to schedule the demo in the first place or the quality of the demo itself might need to be looked at. With access to this type of data, sales operations can proactively compile analysis and use it to identify and recommend sales process adjustments.

With these simple steps, sales operations can drive sales process maturity and lead their organizations toward a more dynamic sales process aligned to the customer’s path. In turn, organizations will see improved sales performance!


Questions for you:

  • How aligned is your sales process to the customer’s path?
  • How frequently are you reviewing your sales process and making adjustments?
  • What data can you leverage to proactively identify areas for sales process adjustment?
  • What are some steps sales operations can take to refine and update the sales process?

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