By Paul DeCoster & Matt Padberg
Fewer face-to-face meetings, more video calls. Evolving customer needs. Higher revenue and growth targets. It’s a challenging time to be in sales. In fact, 9 out of 10 companies report significant change to their sales organizations (CSO Insights Research). If your sales organization is going to find success in the rapidly changing environment, it needs to be equipped with the right data, insights, and tools. The business case for sales enablement is already proven. In CSO Insights Research, organizations with ongoing enablement programs saw an 8.4% increase in win rates as well as higher revenue plan and quota attainment. That’s why organizations are putting more stress on their sales operations and enablement functions than ever before.
How do I know if we have adequate resourcing within our sales operations or enablement group?
Benchmarking suggests that a staffing ratio of 1 sales ops employee for every 10-15 sellers is best practice. However, this number can vary based on many different factors. A better, more direct way to understand if your sales team is being properly supported is to ask them! Not only does this approach provide strong evidence to leadership from the front lines, it also offers the opportunity to check in on and assess other aspects of the sales function.
How do I get input from the organization?
A short online survey can provide meaningful data and insights without taking time away from normal responsibilities and tasks. Requesting input from sellers, managers, and leadership ensures that different perspectives are captured and can be compared.
What should I get input on?
Collecting perspectives on how things are (the current state of performance or capability) versus where they should be (the desired future state, or level of performance/capability needed to meet key strategic goals) is a great way to identify gaps and risks that need to be addressed. For example, what level of capabilities will it take to hit our growth goals for the next two to three years? The survey can be used to collect ratings for current state and desired future state for each performance area or capability of focus.
Getting input on a broad set of performance areas and capabilities can ultimately strengthen the argument to increase resourcing for sales operations and enablement. For example, if there is a large gap between customer segmentation is flagged as needing improvement, sales ops could support the more detailed review of the existing segmentation and make recommendations on changes using insights from data and analytics.
Here is a list of performance areas / capabilities you can assess to identify where sales operations and enablement can focus to provide the most value to the organization:
|Value Proposition||Sales Strategy||A plan for selling to target customers|
|Marketing Strategy||A plan for reaching target customers and raising company awareness|
|Offer Segmentation||Offerings are grouped such that they contain a particular combination of attributes and align to customer groups|
|Customer Segmentation||Customers are split into groups with similar characteristics|
|Go-to-Market||Channel Strategy||A plan for using varied means for bringing offerings to market|
|Coverage Model||The alignment of customers to sales channels and sellers to optimize territories|
|Sales Process||The series of steps involved in closing deals with customers|
|Structure||Organizational Structure||A hierarchy of employees depicting lines of authority and responsibilities|
|Organizational Sizing||The activity of workforce planning to determine an ideal number of employees|
|Resource Deployment||The coordination of resources based on a teaming strategy|
|Sales Role & Talent Strategy||Sales & Support Roles||The functional duties of the sales individuals|
|Selling Competencies||Behaviors that drive successful execution of the sales strategy|
|Assessment & Development||The evaluation of the sales talent against the given roles and competencies|
|Performance & Productivity||Sales Targets||The goals and quotas associated with the seller’s territory|
|Performance Management||The process of communication between employee and supervisor in support of achieving objectives|
|Rewards||The incentives and extrinsic benefits tied to performance|
|Implementation & Support||Sales Operations||The enabling business activities and processes to support sellers|
|Leadership||The group of individuals leading the company direction|
|Communication||The messages building awareness and driving adoption|
|Data & Analytics||The tools and technology used for the sales organization|
|Employee Engagement||The communication and messages that define an employee’s satisfaction and participation in work|
|Recruiting & Training||Hiring and onboarding to provide development to sellers|
Korn Ferry recently conducted a Sales Capability Assessment for a client in the life sciences sector as part of a significant Sales Transformation initiative. The assessment results showed several areas with gaps between current state and desired future state, including Sales Operations and Data & Analytics. During a review session with sales leadership, the lack of integrated systems and access to real-time data and insights was highlighted as a source of frustration. While the issues were known to the Sales Operations team, they were under-staffed and did not have the bandwidth to address them. Seeing the results of the assessment and the subsequent discussions helped leadership see the impact of not adequately resourcing the Sales Ops team. A recommendation was made to the executive team that additional headcount for Sales Ops should be funded.
So how was the executive team convinced? Ultimately, it was proven that account planning was the weak link that could accelerate revenue growth if addressed. Additional headcount would allow sales operations to provide more relevant and timely customer data, which would allow sellers to create stronger account plans faster. From a leadership perspective, this level of account planning also allowed for more proactive management of the sellers versus reactive performance conversations.
About the Authors: Paul DeCoster is a Senior Principal within Korn Ferry’s Sales Effectiveness Practice. Matt Padberg is a Principal within Korn Ferry’s Sales Effectiveness Practice. Most of Paul and Matt’s time is spent helping clients transform their sales function to better address market potential and accelerate revenue growth.