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Ryan Plourde, Crowe Horwath

4 Reasons a Successful Business Needs a VP of Sales Operations

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The VP of Sales sits in his cockpit and says: “On Friday I am going through a pipeline review and measure the penetration rate of marketing and account development to see how many leads are influencing the sales pipeline for each outside sales rep’s pipeline."

Is your business able to do that? If not, you need a VP of Sales Operations.

Businesses need someone who is responsible for the processes that make up the entire sales cycle. This person needs to be at the executive level with the power to make decisions across Sales, both inside and outside, and Marketing. This function is often relegated to an administrative assistant or part of the VP of Sales job function – this will never work. A VP of Sales Operations is the glue that keeps the sales process in tact across the company.

Data Management

The VP of Sales Operations is the one that has operational oversight across Sales and Marketing. Defining and managing a common dictionary (i.e. what you call a sales pipeline another calls sales funnel) across the organization and instilling regimented sales processes can be transformative for a business and their sales organization.

Sales information can now be used to measure an accurate pipeline and manage a sales forecast against sales goals. It allows businesses to manage the ROI of marketing campaigns and justify future marketing investments. It allows a sales leader to manage territory strengths and weaknesses as well as sales reps performance at the individual level to justify additional headcount.

Measurement

As the old adage goes, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

For Outside Sales

  • Are they forecasting revenue consistent with their sales goals throughout the quarter? Based on their sales goals?
  • What is the closure rate of opportunities they are forecasting?
  • How many opportunities are in the sales pipeline vs. forecast? If sales reps are just entering opportunities they are forecasting, how can they carve out a forecast the next quarter?
  • What is the conversion rate of qualified leads received vs. closed business?

For Inside Sales / Account Development

  • How many qualified leads are provided to outside sales?
  • What is the definition of a qualified lead and what is the approval process before it’s passed to outside sales.
  • Which reps are passing the most / least leads?
  • Which leads end up as opportunities? And which ones result in closed revenue.
  • Was a lead generated from the success of a specific marketing campaign?
  • Is one territory more productive than another?

This information helps the business to make decisions around what is working and what not and then shift gears accordingly.

Terminology

A VP of Sales Operations will also standardize terminology. If I label a prospect as a lawyer, and you label it as an attorney, we will never be able to measure the impact. What you call a lead and what you call a suspect needs to be in a common language among the 3 departments. That is first step.

Tying the sales definitions into the CRM software is the second step.

CRM Systems

The VP of Sales Operations manages the CRM software, but not from an IT perspective. This role manages the software in the context of making sure that sales processes and definitions are adhered to so the appropriate business metrics can be reported on. S/He, along with the VP of Sales, manages the sales cadence of regular pipeline reviews with sales / business leadership. Companies who use Microsoft Dynamics CRM can do this using a Sales Pipeline Management tool.

AbleBridge has helped many companies define and streamline their sales processes and assimilate them into their CRM systems. AbleBridge has partnered with many VP’s of Sales Operations to arm them with the tools to better manage sales metrics across the organization.

If you want to learn more about how AbleBridge can assist your sales organization answer the above questions, please contact us.

By Ryan Plourde, AbleBridge, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner, www.AbleBridge.com

Twitter: @AbleBridge

Read my related article on LinkedIn: How a VP of Sales Operations Can Benefit Your Company

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