Insight-Led-Selling-logo-070114In April 2014 Alexander Group hosted a Sales Forum to explore what leading Sales Operations functions are doing to support the strategically important insight-led sales motion. Over 40 executives joined us to discuss the evolving role of their Sales Ops function and to learn from three keynote speakers:

  • Paige Wittman: Vice President of Sales, Andersen Corporation
  • Brian Frank: Vice President, Global Sales Operations, LinkedIn
  • Sue Shimoyama, Vice President, Global Sales Operations, Rockwell Automation

In an engaging and interactive two days, we explored how Sales Operations is enabling the Sales function to both add value to customers and achieve strategic positioning for their companies as never before. They do this by expanding beyond the realm of sales reporting and into critically important sales enablement. In this role the Sales Ops deepens the company’s understanding of what customers value most and enhances the sales force’s ability to deliver this value in four important ways:

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Customer Issues and Needs
Sales Ops is stepping in to deliver capability that product-centric marketing organizations cannot or will not provide. Using survey technology to hear the “voice of the customer” and direct research with both customers and channel partners to add depth of understanding, Sales Ops groups articulate the challenges their customers face by function and/or vertical and codify how select high-performing customers are using innovative combinations of products and services to run their businesses better.

Sales Value Messages
Using aforementioned customer research, as well as research on what top sellers are doing to consistently win, Sales Ops fashions sales value messages that combine product features and processes into messages and offers that actually solve customer problems. Sometimes they team with Field Marketing to do this. Where there is no Field Marketing organization, Ops takes the lead in building a story that revolves around what customers really value instead of what we marketers really want to sell.

Sales Opportunities
Sales Ops still offers reports, but adds to the standard kit by giving sellers insight into where the best opportunities lie. They help sellers look forward, not just backward! Ops builds analytics to look for accounts with high propensity to buy, identify accounts with the lowest share, point out where equipment is coming off lease (sometimes even for competitors), even highlight changes in key management positions and alert the seller about opportunity or risk. In some cases Ops filters leads that Marketing supplies to ensure that sellers are only asked to pursue leads with reasonable propensity to close. These Sales Ops functions know that seller time is valuable and are determined to point them only toward sales opportunities that will contribute to retiring quota.

Value Delivery Tools
These include playbooks with instructions on best sales messages, collateral that is tailored for particular selling situations, directories of experts who can help deliver deeper value, video teleconferencing capability to easily reach and engage these experts, even video testimony from clients describing their success stories.

The emerging role of the strategically important Sales Ops function centers on enabling the Sales organization to both find sales opportunities and deliver value that customers are willing to pay for because it makes a difference to their bottom line. Sales Ops bridges the gap between the Sales and Marketing functions in an era when companies are expected to deliver value beyond the simple description of product features. They combine analytical expertise with customer savvy to help their company improve competitive differentiation and their sales force attain a valued, strategic position among their most important customers.

We invite you to learn more about Alexander Group’s Chief Sales Executive Forums.