Sales operations can be a demanding and sometimes thankless job. You’re responsible for the accuracy of sales reports, lead management, executing the sales process correctly, and more. B2B sales operations leaders make sure that sales reps have everything they need to succeed, which can be very difficult without the right sales enablement strategy. Rolling out a sales enablement strategy requires a number of hurdles to jump, but none that your sales ops team can’t overcome with the help of your company’s sales and marketing teams. Here are a few challenges your team may encounter in sales enablement, and how to address them.
1. Lead management:
While both sales and marketing teams are responsible for generating quality leads through their day-to-day efforts, it is the responsibility of a sales ops team to manage and organize these leads. Lead management is generally operated through CRM and marketing automation tools and requires constant collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Sales ops leaders must make sure that leads are passed from marketing to sales in a timely manner, contain all required information, and are followed up with appropriately. Duplicate leads, disagreements between sales and marketing about what constitutes a quality lead, and the hand-off process all post challenges for sales ops leaders when it comes to lead management.
Sales ops teams should work closely with marketing regarding lead scoring and distribution tools, and ensure that sales reps have the right email templates, lead information, and supporting content to reach out to leads. Lead scoring allocates numeric values to specific lead activities (such as visiting webpages, downloading content, filling out contact forms, etc.). It’s important to make sure that lead scoring and lead distribution tools (marketing automation tools) are working cohesively with the company’s CRM and email programs. Sales ops and marketing leaders should meet periodically to ensure everything is running smoothly.
2. Sales process maintenance:
The sales process is the step-by-step approach a sales team takes to initiate and nurture sales opportunities. It is difficult to determine and emphasize the right activities for sales reps to focus on, the right prospects to sell to, the “right” way to sell, and the right criteria to advance an opportunity to the next stage. But all of this is very important for managing pipeline and revenue. Sticking with the same sales process as buyers and the competitive landscape are constantly changing can be difficult for sales reps who just want to close deals. But it is the sales ops leader’s responsibility to ensure that sales reps stay on track, even if the buyer is ultimately in control of the sales process.
Sales ops leaders should meet with the sales organization to define the sales process. This occurs at a high level when target customers are identified and segmented, the sales team is scaled and organized, and the process is mapped to this organization. Sales ops leaders should also measure conversion rates from one sales stage to the next, and diagnose what needs to be changed to realistically increase that conversion rate.
3. Sales and marketing alignment:
While sales operations leaders are typically focused on ensuring the sales organization has the resources, processes and structure it needs to succeed, sales operations must also work closely with marketing to foster a collaborative relationship between the two teams. This can be a challenge as evidenced in the two points above: marketing and sales can sometimes be at odds about the right processes and qualifications for lead management, and marketing has little visibility into the sales process. This makes it difficult for marketers to surrender their leads to sales, because they have no insights into how sales is interacting with leads.
Sales ops leaders should ensure that marketing and sales are employing content usage analytics. This will improve collaboration between the two teams and ensure that there are no skipped beats or gaps when leads are passed from marketing to sales. Content analytics allow marketing to view the usage breakdowns of every piece of content and segment by time period and sales rep. Sales ops teams should also be able to view what content is being used in the CRM at certain buying stages so favorable interactions can be replicated. Further, sales reps should get notifications not only when their prospects open an email they send, but also when they view the content accompanying the email. All of these analytics will help to align sales and marketing, especially if sales operations leaders are there to connect the dots.