Data is the energy that powers sales teams. It helps them to understand who prospects and customers are, what they care most about, and how their product can be positioned in a way that alleviates pains and solves problems for specific customer segments.
The organization, analysis, and usage of your sales operations data will play a critical role in your company’s ability to capitalize on opportunities and grow.
But companies are collecting more data than ever. On the surface, that seems like a good thing. And it is — for companies that have their sales operations systems in place to help them manage and oversee their sales initiatives. For those that don’t, the overload of data can serve as a barrier to actually using it and taking actionable steps from accurate, data-backed insights.
In this article, we’ll outline three steps that sales operations teams can take to improve their data management practices, improve sales team performance, and create more alignment throughout their organization.
First, let’s dive into what sales operations is and what people that hold sales operations positions are responsible for within the organizations that they serve.
What is Sales Operations? What Do They Do?
Sales operations positions are fast-growing in the United States. As companies collect more data, the processes involved in collecting, analyzing, and effectively utilizing that data for sales have become increasingly complicated.
In short, sales operations is a team that typically handles all non-direct sales processes and related tasks. Their duties can differ depending on the company, but often include tasks like structuring lead generation programs, managing sales reps to boost efficiency, creating internal incentive programs, managing sales analytics and internal KPIs, mapping data-backed insights to actionable changes, and sales data management. They help sales teams to close more deals, more quickly.
Why Is Sales Operations Important?
The types of tasks that are handled by your sales operations team are among the most important to your sales department’s success. But with data increases these tasks have become increasingly complex, requiring professionals with specific platforms and systems, whereas decades ago these tasks could have been adequately handled by sales managers. These tasks also pull your sales reps away from what you need most from them — closing sales and generating beneficial relationships with customers.
Sales operations teams provide numerous benefits to companies that invest in them:
- Accurate forecasting. With a better understanding of your data and internal and external sales trends, sales operations teams deliver better, more accurate forecasting that helps organizations to more effectively plan for the future.
- Faster growth. Companies that invest in well-defined sales processes generate more revenue. With improvements in context and actionable data, your sales team will be able to improve their productivity and close more sales.
- Improved cross-departmental alignment. Sales operations teams work with marketing operations and revenue operations teams to improve data sharing and break down data silos that hamper their ability to create a single customer view throughout the customer lifecycle.
- Improve scalability. Well-defined sales processes make it easier to hire and train talent. Your sales team will be more adaptable and able to expand with growth.
Sales operations teams will play a critical role in the future of the most successful companies across the world. Sales data and the processes around it simply present too big of an opportunity not to invest in specialists to help.
3 Steps to Take Control of Sales Operations Data
Companies that are looking to grow from a traditional sales department into a more modern one often have a big task ahead of them. Often, they’ve been collecting customer data without any overarching plan regarding how they will analyze, cleanse, or utilize that data internally.
A few steps that any company can take to help them take control of their sales operations data include:
1. Analyze & Understand the Data That You Have On-Hand
Too often companies are overly focused on collecting more data, rather than making the most of the data that they already have. Unless you have excellent data auditing and analysis programs in place, there are untold opportunities sitting in your HubSpot, Salesforce, or Intercom CRM unnoticed.
Before you can make the most of your data, you have to have a solid understanding of what you have. Start with an analysis of that data. Identify holes in your collection processes. Work with your sales teams to identify gaps. Speak with customers to gain an understanding of what they feel was missing throughout the sales process.
A few of the areas that you should focus on in your analysis include:
- Lead data accuracy and cleanliness. Is your data accurate? Is your data whole? Is your data clean? Sales operations teams do not just work utilize data effectively but improve the quality of that data as a whole through data cleaning and enrichment.
- Customer data segmentation. With accurate data, you can effectively segment customers into similar categories so that you can provide messaging that speaks directly to their biggest concerns.
- Lead scoring. Use your improved understanding to re-shape and analyze your lead scoring programs. Ensuring that sales reps are targeting the right prospects is a simple but powerful step toward more efficiency in your sales programs.
New sales operations teams should start with in-depth audits to gain a complete understanding of what data they are collecting, what data they need to be collecting, and how that collection is translating to actionable insights.
2. Remove Organizational Data Silos to Create a True Single Customer View
Think of your customer data as their “permanent record” in regard to how they engage with your business. Every piece of data that you collect is a small piece to a larger puzzle that paints a complete picture of the prospect — who they are, what they care most about, what their biggest problems are, and how they prefer to be engaged with.
That permanent record needs to stick with them throughout their time engaging with your company. It often begins with marketing, when the prospect first becomes aware of your solution and engages with your company in some way — maybe they fill out a form, engage with you on social media, or send an email.
When your marketing teams have determined that a prospect is sales-ready, they are handed off. With that handoff should include every piece of data that has been collected about the prospect so far. Your sales team will use that context to speak to the biggest concerns of the prospect and position your product in a way that is more likely to connect with them.
After the sale, the customer will be handed off to customer success and support, who they may engage with regularly throughout their time as a customer.
All of these departments need a full and complete picture to inform their own internal strategies. 73% of sales teams say cross-functional collaboration is very important to their sales processes. Data silos, where only one department has access to specific data, shatters the single customer view and keeps important context away from people that may need it to do their job effectively.
Sales operations teams should focus on breaking down these silos and should work with marketing operations and revenue operations teams to institute better data access and sharing policies across their organization.
3. Make Your Sales Operations Data Actionable
Understanding can only take you so far when it comes to sales operations data. You can understand your customers completely, but if you aren’t deriving actionable insights from that understanding then you won’t see improvement.
Directly connect data to actionable insights. Is that data telling you that prospects in key segments aren’t engaging with a piece of collateral that you send them? Then use your understanding of customers in that segment to discern why and create an actionable game plan to remedy it — for example, creating a new piece of collateral that speaks directly to that customer segment at that point in the sales process.
Sales operations professionals create the organization, processes, and policies that enable your sales leads to take action based on what the data is telling them. Without that organization, you’ll lack a deep understanding of your customers and make sales processes changes off of not much more than a hunch.
How Insycle Can Help Sales Operations Manage Data
Sales operations teams are the proverbial heartbeat of any sales team. They put the data management and sales processes in place that allow sales reps and their team leads to identify areas for improvement and use their data to take actionable steps that lead to more revenue, more effective time management, and a deeper understanding of prospects and customers.
Insycle helps to streamline sales data management and delivering a top-down look at your critical sales data data, allowing you to solve common data errors and better categorize your data in order to make data-backed decisions.
Some of the ways that Insycle helps sales operations teams include:
- Identify and merge duplicate data
- Find and format data inconsistencies
- Locate and remove redundant data and legacy fields
- Automate data cleansing process to run at regular intervals
- Improving lead management by standardizing values used in lead segmentation
- Collaborate with team members on data cleansing, maintenance, & management
- And more!
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