As we’re winding down to the end of the year, many of us are planning for the next normal of 2021 and beyond. If all sales are currently (and maybe permanently) inside sales, what does this mean for the future of B2B sales teams?
We recently sat down with Jamie Edwards, Senior Manager of Sales Operations at Upwork, to talk about the role of sales operations in rapidly changing circumstances, such as a pandemic or period of high growth. Let’s use Jamie’s framework of people, process, and technology to explore those issues.
In order for any team to succeed during a dynamic time, it’s more important than ever to sit down regularly with your team members. Open communication and understanding every stakeholder’s goals are the keys to weathering a storm and scaling your team as you grow.
When your team is distributed — and even when it’s not — you need to think carefully about new hire and ongoing training programs. Decide early on what you want the training process for sales reps to look like. What do they need to know? When do they need to know it? Keep training content specific to allow for an easier scaling process.
In a pre-COVID world, this was much easier for many companies. You could sit in a room with everyone and see exactly what was going on and when someone needed help, and you were able to go through the entire process together. Now, your team is distributed and you may have reps spread across many locations. This means you have to make sure everyone has the tools that they need to succeed, so no one falls behind.
You also need to think carefully about the design of your sales team. You have to take into account that there will be employee turnover during periods of change, and build a contingency plan for when someone leaves. What happens with their accounts? Will someone inherit them (and why)? Will lead routing be paused? Will their business books go to a manager? Have a plan that covers all of these “what ifs” and stick to that plan.
When adding new people to a sales team, it’s critical to manage territories and account allocations intelligently. How are you going to segment your team? How does that change now that everyone is distributed?
In order to plan effectively, you first have to be very explicit about your ideal customer profile, especially if that is changing too. Are you targeting particular industries? What size companies? Are your customers based in multiple departments? Think about how these criteria shape how you structure your teams. You want to have the right sales people for the right accounts.
As you continue to scale, you’ll run into more conflicts between team members, so it’s vital that you have a clear set of rules of engagement. If a couple people end up working on the same account, you’ll need a plan to figure out who should actually be on that account. Be clear about the rules.
How do you keep things fair in an intense sales environment? Through data integrity. Keep your CRM system as clean as you can in order to have a clear insight into accounts, leads, and contacts. This way, if there is controversy over an account, you can figure out whose account it should be based on data in your system. Having clear rules based on reliable data makes it fair for everyone.
It is clear that in a post-COVID world there will be a lot of changes to the workplace. One of those changes will have to be on the technology side to make sure reps are able to use sales tech effectively to support your company’s growth plan and goals.
With technology, there is always something better — a new product is always being released. However, it’s important to find out if a new tool is actually beneficial for your business. Have a process for evaluating those tools and making sure they fit the needs of your organization. And don’t limit yourself to the boundaries of a tool. Find something that works for you and your business and use it to your advantage.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a high-quality telephony system. Because so much sales work is remote at this time, make sure your calls aren’t lagging and that your reps have a functional phone and internet system.
Learning management systems are also a crucial part of the technology stack for training reps. Having an LMS system in place early on will be easier to manage for you and your team. You can see who has reviewed content, and when. Your reps can easily access the information they need to do their jobs.
Although we are constantly having to adapt to an ever-changing world, it’s important to stay calm, and plan for change.
“All of these things can happen overnight. Every day you will learn something new, so just be prepared to change and just embrace it.”
-Jamie Edwards, Sales Operations at Upwork
As 2020 comes to a close, keep an open mind about your expectations for the new year. Adaptation is a fundamental element for the survival of your business. Have a plan, stay calm, and be prepared for change.
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