What happens when you start an engine without oil? It sputters, smokes and eventually stops. If you’re driving your sales force to adopt an insight-led selling approach, don’t try to start it without adding the oil – Sales Operations. A hot topic among sales executives right now is the shift to Insight-led sales. This means when sellers engage with customers, not only do they demonstrate an accurate and deep understanding of the customer’s business, but they also share insights on the industry; the market; and more importantly, how their solution will deliver positive outcomes for the customer’s business. Customers, in turn, open up and engage in a more meaningful dialogue on how they can work together. Sales leaders tell us the challenges faced when moving to insight-led selling include:
They also tell us that the key to overcoming these challenges is building a highly functioning “Engine” – a systematic way to enable sales reps with insights that help them win more often, increase average deal size and develop loyal customer followings. These Insight Engines source, package and deliver relevant insights to sellers.
The Insight Engine is not a tool or piece of software. Instead, it’s a process and a business discipline. The engine requires the smooth coordination of two components, namely Sales and Marketing. The engine features a regular cadence of meetings (e.g., quarterly) where Sales and Marketing stakeholders collaborate to develop the insights sellers need to grow pipelines, win more often and increase average deal size. Sales stakeholders include senior leadership and first- and second-line sales managers collaborating with strategic and product marketing stakeholders.
Research participants tell us Sales Operations must act as the oil to keep the Insight Engine running. Without the discipline and execution capabilities of a strong Sales Operations function, the Insight Engine quickly breaks down, like so many failed sales improvement efforts that went before it.
How Can Sales Operations Help?
Gaining sustainable lift from Insight-led selling requires overcoming the challenges inherent in functional silos and product-heavy sales collateral. Sales leaders need to look no further than their own backyard (their Sales Operations function) to charter and activate an effective Insight-led selling program. This may require investment in different or additional Sales Operations talent. So tap your Sales Operations oil well and watch your Insight Engine purr!