Unprecedented technological change coupled with globally expanding, highly competitive markets are creating the need for more complex sales organizations. To sell complex products and solutions across the globe, an executive’s initial response is to demand more from their sales teams through teaming, elevated skills, more tools and increased technical enablement. Alexander Group (AGI) refers to this newfound focus where sales (not product) is the differentiator as the first evolution in 21st century manufacturing sales models. The complexity and costs of these selling models is driving the next great evolution: the rapid professionalization of Sales Operations.
Sales Operations provides direct access to multiple support and enablement needs that historically reside in other functions (e.g., finance or HR), or that previously did not exist at all. In the past, manufacturers generally did not emphasize the sales force (many simply outsourced ‘sales’ to distributors or manufacturing representatives). Thus there was no apparent need for a sales operations function. As manufacturers have grown, expanded globally and are required to sell a broad set of technologically advanced products and services, Sales Operations has become an absolute necessity. Top manufacturers invest heavily in the function and strive to effectively set up Sales Operations for long-term success.
Four Key Pitfalls When Standing Up a Manufacturer Sale Operations Model
A majority of manufacturers who attempt to establish Sales Operations commit four classic mistakes below:
The Way Forward
There are clear guidelines for establishing an effective sales operations program in manufacturing. First, sales leadership must assess current gaps that Sales Operations will tackle. Both a quantitative and qualitative review of sales effectiveness will answer some of the following questions:
Once sales leadership fully assesses and prioritizes key needs, they should build a business case for organizational change that clearly outlines:
Once executive leadership approves the program, it is best to follow a build–and-expand strategy. No two sales operations functions follow the same path, and programs tend to grow and evolve as merits of the strategy show significant and early wins for the sales model.
Make it Happen
Sales operations programs–dedicated, staffed and funded–are no longer an option for manufacturing organizations. Revenue leaders cannot afford to rely on dated and highly siloed organizational structures to keep pace with the complex and rapidly evolving needs of today’s marketplace.
To learn more about sales operations in manufacturing, please contact one of AGI’s manufacturing leaders.
Contact us to learn about recent comprehensive AGI studies on both sales operations and manufacturing sales model practices and trends.