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Sales Ops success: Make the most of your secret sauce

Consider these tasks and the problems related to them: budgeting amid great uncertainty about the future (like today during COVID-19); inputting departmental budgets on multiple Excel worksheets; manually reconciling variances and correcting errors; and dealing with broken formulas, misinformation, and inaccuracies. The life of a finance team during budget season is arduous and often frustrating.

When it comes to sales, just about every company has what I like to call its secret sauce. It’s that niche where you’ve experienced great sales success—and have a long runway for continued growth and additional market share. It’s that part of your business where you’re in the zone.

Most companies have a clear sense of this sweet spot. Maybe for you it’s a focus on a certain sector in the middle market or it’s how you are effective in meeting the needs of a very specific industry. Knowing your strengths is one thing. Knowing how to fully leverage the opportunity is another. That’s where sales ops can make a big impact as a trusted partner in sales planning.

We like to say here at Adaptive Insights that the intersection of strategy and execution is planning. It’s during that planning process where sales ops can bring real value by knitting together your strategy (your vision of how to accelerate growth) and execution (the tactical road map for getting the job done). You can drive better planning with relevant data, metrics, and insights. Then you can enhance execution by adding greater visibility to your performance as well as the agility to course-correct as needed to capitalize on new market opportunities.

Learn more about Adaptive Insights for Sales.

As you dig deeper into this year’s sales planning process, here are some ideas on how to make the most of your secret sauce:

Lay out the options

Anyone can hit their sales numbers—that is, if you throw enough money and resources into the plan. Yet the goal is not to hit your numbers at all costs. It is to hit them in the most cost-efficient and strategic way possible. By leveraging cloud planning technology, sales ops can effectively lay out the options and offer insights into the ripple effects of various choices. By crafting models and what-if scenarios, you provide plenty of relevant data-based information such as cost structure, required quotas, the impacts on organizational structure, staffing, and more. This puts the business in a much better position to make informed decisions, with a full understanding of the implications of the options.

Your plan is a living thing

A key strength of having a cloud planning solution such as Adaptive Insights for Sales is the ability to craft a plan that allows you to monitor and adjust on the fly throughout the year. Being able to track performance against your plan and make adjustments along the way can be a huge competitive advantage—but it’s something that is extremely difficult to do well if you rely solely on spreadsheets. Tracking results is not just about identifying and addressing underperformance, but also looking for opportunities to highlight what’s working and to double down on a strength. And if you make adjustments throughout the year, you go into the next year’s planning process with greater clarity about how to leverage your secret-sauce strengths even further.

Trust your data, not your gut

Good data leads to good decisions. We recently had an experience at Adaptive Insights in which having ready access to key data and metrics made a big difference. One of our sales reps left, and we needed to make a decision on where to hire. Back in the spreadsheet days, we probably would have simply filled that vacant slot or put another rep into an area where sales seemed to be strong. Instead, we did an on-the-fly scenario analysis. Over the course of a single meeting with my chief revenue officer and vice president of worldwide sales, we used a data-driven assessment to determine where deploying the resource would make the most impact. We considered costs, territory capacities, growth projections, and expected ramp productivity. The end result: We were able to make a confident recommendation about placing a new sales rep in a territory that was showing real momentum and more likely to deliver the best ROI.

Take a (calculated) leap of faith

It’s critical to make recommendations and decisions based on the best available data and insights, but when it comes to making the most of your strengths, you also need to be willing to make some strategic stretches. Stretches are easier when you know you have the right monitoring set up and the ability to shift gears quickly.

Your secret sauce is going to drive your growth and separate you from the competition. Make sure your business partners understand the power of making the most of it. Then become that trusted partner who finds ways to maximize the opportunities.

Learn more about Adaptive Insights for Sales.

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