How to Build Sales Operations for Small Businesses
You’re a small business owner, but you have dreams of scaling your business into a serious money maker, one where the gross profit line includes eight zeros.
Of course, this means increasing your sales revenue, which naturally leads you to consider finding, hiring, and training more salespeople . . . a lengthy and expensive process.
But there’s another way.
What is sales operations?
There’s only way to make a profit—keep more money than you spend. Fortunately, there is more than one way to keep your cha-ching, like building and implementing an effective sales operations.
Sales operations is a distinct business function worthy of its own VP, but ask six people what sales ops is and you’ll get six different answers. The simple answer is always the best: “Sales operations is the practice of making revenue growth as efficient as possible.”[i]
With a fine-tuned sales operations model in place, you can generate more leads and convert more sales with less resources, including less people. And it’s for this reason that sales operations for small businesses makes sense.
Joey Gilkey, this week’s Stay Paid guest, is the CEO of Sales Driven Agency, an organization that builds out sales operations for high-ticket B2B companies. He talks with Luke and Josh about:
- the indispensable need for documented processes,
- critical KPIs and how to correct for them,
- the key to motivating salespeople,
- and suggestions for how to work with a sales professional who’s hit a slump.
You can hear Gilkin’s thoughts and advice on all these and other aspects of sales operations by listening to the episode. Here, we’ll focus on the need for documented processes.
Process is your friend
Give Gilkey a choice between a having a rock star salesperson or having repeatable processes that work, and he’ll take the processes every time.
His reason? “I can train someone to be competent if I have the right processes.”
Having processes written out and organized for easy retrieval and use is essential. Without them, your business is unscalable, your sales are unpredictable, and your profits are unsustainable.
3 steps to build sales operations for small business
Gilkey advises the small business owner, who often wears many hats and remains involved in routine sales, to get what it is they routinely do out of their head and on to paper.
Complete the 3 D’s
- Do: Identify what you routinely do well.
- Document: Write what you do down in detail so that anyone can mimic your actions and get the same result.
- Delegate: Ask yourself whether you can delegate what you do. If the answer is yes, then delegate.
The importance of completing the 3 D’s is never more evident than when a vital task needed right now can’t be completed because the only person who knows how is unavailable.
Create playbooks, fill them with the relevant detailed workflows, and engage in the actions that build out those workflows.
- A playbook is designed to achieve your end goal.
- Workflows are criteria-based and guide users through if/then decision-making processes.
- Actions are taken in accordance with the criteria that will achieve your goal.
Establish a knowledgebase
It’s important to have an easily accessible library of all your business’ playbooks, sales campaigns, recorded calls, collateral, presentations, etc., so that when you do bring in a new salesperson, they can come in and immediately begin to learn what they need to know to succeed.
Responding to reluctance
Some people, salespeople included, claim to feel confined by processes, and may resist being coached to follow one. But the truth is a well-documented, effective process can actually provide them with the flexibility to adapt when necessary.
A process will outline parameters, transitions, deliverables, and end states—making it easier to get back on track. And, ironically, many salespeople have a process that is their own, but it may not be producing the best possible results.
Additionally, a documented process holds everyone equally accountable and can help correct poor performance.
As Gilkey notes, if desired outcomes are being achieved, then, as a leader, you don’t have a problem and you can leave your salespeople to do their thing. However, if someone is underperforming, you can determine whether they are doing what they are supposed to be doing according to the process. If they are, but they are still underperforming, then the solution is simply to do more of it.
[i] Yes, Small Businesses Need Sales Ops, InsightSquared, June 24, 2015, https://www.insightsquared.com/blog/yes-small-businesses-need-sales-ops/.
- There are four sales “archetypes” found in businesses that make them unscalable, unpredictable, and unsustainable.
- A proper, repeatable, sales operations process will include playbooks, workflows, and actions.
- As the founder, owner, or leader of an organization, it’s imperative that you complete the 3 D’s:
- Thoroughly examine what you do
- Document how you do it.
- Determine if you can delegate
- As a leader you must help your people achieve the goals they have outside of work and to which their jobs are a means to an end. Then be real with them about their performance and meeting those goals.
Prepare to scale to the next level and take the time to complete the 3 D’s: do, document, and delegate.
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