Meer tijd

Meer tijd doorbrengen met klanten

Meer tijd steken in sales (en daar bedoelen we mee, meer tijd doorbrengen met klanten), levert al snel meer dan 10% extra omzet op jaarbasis op. Maar hoe kun je sales helpen meer tijd te besteden aan klanten? Investeren in sales enablement zorgt er voor dat sales teams tot wel 60% meer effectiviteitsverbetering kunnen realiseren. In dit blog gaan we inhoudelijk in hoe dit kan worden bereikt.        

Fueling the next wave of revenue and profit growth is a top priority for many sales leaders. As companies scale, however, traditional methods, such as adding more front-line sellers to expand account coverage or overlay sales capacity, often yield diminishing returns and are simply not practical in many resource-constrained industries. Sales leaders are simply expected to do more with less, in most cases.

At the same time, new trends are forcing sales leaders to rethink how they sell. Customers used to the simple purchase processes in the B2C world are expecting the same sort of experience with B2B companies. They’re demanding more self-service capabilities for product research, trial, and purchase, for example. Given that so much is available online, customers also have a higher bar for the depth of technical expertise on products and services that solution vendors bring.

Enter sales enablement. A strong sales enablement function can address these issues and drive revenue growth by reducing the time reps spend on various administrative tasks, speeding up the sales process, and improving the experience for the customer. Focusing on process re-engineering, automation, and optimization of sales-support resources can also dramatically reduce the cost of sales.

Companies that build world-class sales enablement functions can realize one-time improvements of 20 to 30 percent in sales productivity, with sustained annual increases as high as 5 to 10 percent in some cases. Our research also shows that companies that invest one resource in sales support for every front-line sales resource drive significantly higher sales productivity than companies that invest less. Underinvesting in sales-support functions simply shifts the necessary transaction and administrative work to sellers, taking away time better spent with customers.

Not yet many companies have high-performing sales enablement functions. A survey by McKinsey of more than 12,000 sales professionals from over 90 companies, showed that the median company demonstrates best practice on only 40 percent of identified sales-operations capabilities, and even top-quartile companies demonstrate best practice on only 60 percent. Moreover, while most companies would say that technology is an important lever in driving sales enablement, the research showed that only 28 percent of survey respondents are using state-of-the-art sales technology in their sales-operations functions.

So what do world-class sales-operations functions actually look like? These organizations deliver operational excellence day in and day out as well as being leaders in driving sales outcomes and change. World-class sales enablement teams consistently achieve budget, quota, and forecast while maintaining healthy pipelines. They proactively engage with sales managers and sellers to understand deal status and recommend actions to increase deal values, accelerate opportunities through the sales cycle, or improve win rates. And they maintain a tight focus on resource optimization, making the attraction, development, and retention of key talent a priority.

In leading companies, a strong sales enablement function also harnesses data and technology to deliver clear sales plans and insights that sellers can act on, create predictability and rigor in sales management, and drive adoption of new selling motions.

Ideeally sales enablement focuses on designing and implementing programs or process improvements that reduce the non-value-added work for sellers and provide them with insights and services that improve both the time spent with customers and the effectiveness of their interactions. These companies often have a very structured methodology for measuring how sales reps spend their time on customer-facing and administrative activities, data they use to set process-improvement and IT automation priorities. Examples of initiatives include account-planning reengineering, CRM simplification efforts, streamlined bid management, and proposal desks.

Getting started

Trying to improve sales operations can seem complex, intimidating, and time-consuming, which often hampers sales leaders from even starting. While no one would trivialize the process, there are a few simple ways to begin. In our experience, in fact, companies can often score some quick wins early in the process that have a real impact on performance. To understand where to focus on your transformation journey, start by asking yourself and your organization a few simple questions:

  • How much of your sales resources are in sales-support roles versus front-line sellers and sales managers?
  • To what degree is your sales-operations function centralized or dispersed by customer segment, business unit, or region?
  • What are the metrics and reports you use for sales-performance management activities? How standardized are they, and how often are they generated centrally?
  • How are sales resources allocated? How are they balanced between future customer opportunity and current bookings?
  • How much time do your salespeople spend on non-customer-facing activities (e.g., proposal/quote preparation, researching customer information, admin) each week?
  • What is the talent profile of people who have joined sales operations in the past 12 months?

Sales executives are faced with increasing demands to grow in an environment that is becoming more complex every day. As the pace of change increases, so does the need to transform and rethink current sales models, processes, structure, and talent. Companies that successfully transform are those that invest in and heavily rely on their sales enablement capabilities to drive change and fuel continuous sales-productivity improvement over time. Building a world-class sales-operations team requires long-term commitment, but having the right capabilities in place can drive superior sales results over time.