Loading...

Follow Insight Squared on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Dear Sales,

I’d like to help you more. I’d like to help you faster. But to do so, I need your help. If you follow these three simple tips, there’s virtually no limit to the help you’ll get from me and my operations colleagues. What are they? Glad you asked.

First: Give me context — even at a high level

I don’t need pages of detail (I don’t even want lots of detail), but I definitely need more than an orphaned screenshot and a frantic plea on Slack, like this error message I got yesterday:

I need enough information to know where to start. Are you in a certain tool? Did you do a certain thing that led to that error?

Here’s a framework to consider as you explain your ask:

What problem are you solving?

Share context around the ask – why you’re asking for it, what the business value is, if it ties to other initiatives, etc.

Tool:

Tell me what software that you are experiencing an issue with.

Describe the issue you are experiencing.

What is happening that you didn’t expect to happen? What would you expect to have happen that isn’t happening?

What were you doing when you got the error?

Reproducing the issue: If I tried to get the same error, how would I do that?

Category:

Select the category that best describes your question.

What is your question?

Please offer enough context and detail for us to help answer your question.

Second: Let me see what you see

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a screenshot is worth at least an hour of our collective time.

Before giving you a reliable answer, I need to recreate the issue you’re experiencing or go to the record you’re referencing. Links are super easy for you to grab and super helpful for me — so if you’re experiencing a problem, just copy the link and share it with me. How easy is that?  

I’ll make it easier still. Here are some free tools that will simplify screenshotting:

Finally: Be clear and direct. Tell me what you need from me.

Do you need certain information? If so, what — and, if appropriate, why? Do you need me to do something specific? Tell me what it is. Do you need something from me in a certain file format and/or in a certain time frame? Specifying up front will save us a step later.

Vague requests could add cycles and delays because we need to fill in the gaps with guesswork or wait to hear back on qualifying questions. The more clarity up front, the less back-and-forth later.

In fact, while we’re at it, please, please, please document your request. Ops folks typically have a ticketing system that helps us stay organized. Catching us mid-meeting or shooting over a Slack may be easier for you but trust me: it increases the likelihood of us losing your request in the ether or missing some detail. Then no one wins.

That’s it. Really, that’s all we need. You see, in ops we’re constantly context switching — popping between one task to the next, one request to the next. If we pick up a ticket or see an email and you’ve made it easy to execute, there’s a higher likelihood we can help you faster.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to leave a ticket open for longer since I didn’t have the time it would take to do the information gathering required or I had to go back-and-forth a handful of times to get the information needed to help.

There’s a (potentially) larger upfront cost in filling out a ticket or giving more information — but as someone on both sides of the aisle (responding to & submitting plenty of support tickets to our vendors) I can confirm that time spent is worth it when you get what you need faster in the end.

Here to help,

Phoebe

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Dear Sales,

I’d like to help you more. I’d like to help you faster. But to do so, I need your help. If you follow these three simple tips, there’s virtually no limit to the help you’ll get from me and my operations colleagues. What are they? Glad you asked.

First: Give me context — even at a high level

I don’t need pages of detail (I don’t even want lots of detail), but I definitely need more than an orphaned screenshot and a frantic plea on Slack, like this error message I got yesterday:

I need enough information to know where to start. Are you in a certain tool? Did you do a certain thing that led to that error?

Here’s a framework to consider as you explain your ask:

What problem are you solving?

Share context around the ask – why you’re asking for it, what the business value is, if it ties to other initiatives, etc.

Tool:

Tell me what software that you are experiencing an issue with.

Describe the issue you are experiencing.

What is happening that you didn’t expect to happen? What would you expect to have happen that isn’t happening?

What were you doing when you got the error?

Reproducing the issue: If I tried to get the same error, how would I do that?

Category:

Select the category that best describes your question.

What is your question?

Please offer enough context and detail for us to help answer your question.

Second: Let me see what you see

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a screenshot is worth at least an hour of our collective time.

Before giving you a reliable answer, I need to recreate the issue you’re experiencing or go to the record you’re referencing. Links are super easy for you to grab and super helpful for me — so if you’re experiencing a problem, just copy the link and share it with me. How easy is that?  

I’ll make it easier still. Here are some free tools that will simplify screenshotting:

Finally: Be clear and direct. Tell me what you need from me.

Do you need certain information? If so, what — and, if appropriate, why? Do you need me to do something specific? Tell me what it is. Do you need something from me in a certain file format and/or in a certain time frame? Specifying up front will save us a step later.

Vague requests could add cycles and delays because we need to fill in the gaps with guesswork or wait to hear back on qualifying questions. The more clarity up front, the less back-and-forth later.

In fact, while we’re at it, please, please, please document your request. Ops folks typically have a ticketing system that helps us stay organized. Catching us mid-meeting or shooting over a Slack may be easier for you but trust me: it increases the likelihood of us losing your request in the ether or missing some detail. Then no one wins.

That’s it. Really, that’s all we need. You see, in ops we’re constantly context switching — popping between one task to the next, one request to the next. If we pick up a ticket or see an email and you’ve made it easy to execute, there’s a higher likelihood we can help you faster.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to leave a ticket open for longer since I didn’t have the time it would take to do the information gathering required or I had to go back-and-forth a handful of times to get the information needed to help.

There’s a (potentially) larger upfront cost in filling out a ticket or giving more information — but as someone on both sides of the aisle (responding to & submitting plenty of support tickets to our vendors) I can confirm that time spent is worth it when you get what you need faster in the end.

Here to help,

Phoebe

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Marketers look to their marketing automation platforms (MAPs) not only to execute many of their demand generation activities, but also to understand the effectiveness of their marketing programs. However marketers are largely dissatisfied with the reporting their MAPs offer. This is what the findings were in a study done by Heinz Marketing and InsightSquared titled, Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) Satisfaction Survey 2018: Are Marketing Automation Vendors Still Meeting the Needs of Today’s Marketer?

I’ve worked with marketers and MarTech tools for most of my career. Most recently I was head of product management at a MAP startup in Boston. Like my competitors, I too struggled with building effective reporting for marketers. Here’s why:

  1. It’s complex and hard to get right. Proving that a particular activity caused the buyer to make a decision to purchase is hard to do. Capabilities such as multi-touch attribution and metrics such as marketing-influenced revenue are what marketers are looking for to measure the effectiveness of their activities along the buying cycle. The data to enable these calculations often lives in multiple systems and the metrics are complicated to calculate… and, as figure 1 indicates, these are the metrics marketers are looking to their MAP vendor to provide.

Figure 1

  1. The MAP is not always the system of record. For most companies, the CRM system is where the operational data is created, updated, and worked on – this includes data such as opportunity information, which is necessary to measure the effectiveness of marketing activities. For data that is not created in the CRM, a technology ecosystem of APIs and connectors exists to bring data into the CRM. MAPs, on the other hand, are considered transactional systems – they are rarely the central source for the company’s data. The integration ecosystem to bring data in is less robust. Reporting and analytics can only be as good as the underlying data – if the data does not exist, the reports cannot be effective.
  2. Marketers’ needs are becoming more sophisticated. In this age of information and technology, the expectation of the marketer is that they are both creative as well as data driven. Marketers have begun asking more sophisticated questions because they know the data exists, they just don’t know why it’s not being surfaced in their MAP. In fact, as figure 2 indicates, the more experienced they are, the higher their dissatisfaction with the reporting offered by their MAP.

Figure 2

  1. Shiny features sell. In a crowded market, sometimes the only way to differentiate yourself is to build a net new capability that your competitors do not offer. For the MAP industry, capabilities such as AI, ABM, location-based messaging, AR/VR are more likely to create excitement and encourage customers to pick one platform over another. In order to win more customers, these shiny features become the focus of the product roadmap vs. more basic needs such as reporting and analytics.
  2. Reporting is not a core competence. The key purpose of a MAP is to deliver personalized messaging and MAP vendors are excellent at this. While they may offer reporting and analytics as part of their platform, this is not a core capability. As figure 3 indicates, across all major MAP vendors, actionable reporting and analytics is considered the most deficient feature. Since all MAPs are deficient in this feature, this is currently not a capability that will impact acquiring a new customer or retaining an existing one.

Figure 3

Marketers are asking for better reporting and analytics. But, MAP vendors continue to lag in their delivery of this much needed feature for a number of reasons. While this is not a new problem, it has become significantly harder to solve – and marketers need a solution in order to be successful in today’s digital world. I am excited to watch how the marketing industry solves this and who jumps at the opportunity to answer the million dollar question for marketers: Which marketing activities are generating new customers and revenue for the company? To read the full report click here.

To better understand what marketing automation users feel their platforms are missing, in partnership with Heinz Marketing, we conducted a survey over 11 days in October 2017. The responses came from 410 marketing and sales professionals who use Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Pardot, HubSpot, or Act-On. Survey respondents represented multiple industries and ranged in size from SMB organizations to large enterprises. Read the full report here. 

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Marketing automation vendors are being cornered by a monster of their own creation. That’s the conclusion of a new InsightSquared and Heinz Marketing report, titled Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) Satisfaction Survey 2018: Are Marketing Automation Vendors Still Meeting the Needs of Today’s Marketer?

No doubt the marketing industry owes a debt of gratitude to the marketing automation industry. Prior to the emergence of companies like Eloqua and Marketo, marketers were largely flying blind when it came to quantifying the value they provided to their organizations. Today, nostalgic marketers tend to look back on the pre-MAP period as “the arts and crafts era of marketing,” because without these new tools, there was no systematic way to track the volume, quality, and disposition of marketing-sourced leads, and tie the value to specific marketing campaigns.

As these companies grew – Eloqua, Marketo, and HubSpot all enjoyed successful IPOs; Pardot was acquired by Salesforce.com – so too did their promises. Not only would they help marketers tie leads to campaigns, but they would also reveal something more anticipated than Al Capone’s tomb: Marketing’s impact on revenue generated. This promise took many forms: Attribution, ROI, even the wonky “revenue performance management,” that I begrudgingly admit having a hand in. Together, these reports, and those like them, would be to marketing what forensic accounting is a to financial investigation. They would paint a picture from fragments of information. But like Capone’s tomb, those higher order promises have proven empty, at least according to the 400+ marketing practitioners surveyed by Heinz Marketing last fall.

From the initial question through the final, respondents made clear a single point: In the post-arts-and-crafts era, leaders expected marketing to prove its impact on revenue, yet not a single MAP could produce such a report.

If the desire for advanced reporting was a secondary need, it might be easier to understand why it has gone unmet. But marketers told us that “actionable analytics/reporting” is the most important feature in a MAP. It’s also the feature with which they’re least satisfied. See figure 1.

Figure 1

And it wasn’t just one MAP that was dragging down the numbers for all. As figure 2 indicates, “actionable analytics/reporting” was cited as the most deficient feature for every single major vendor in the industry.

Figure 2

The lack of this capability may have consequences for MAP users who want to earn the confidence of top brass, because (figure 3) executives appear to be far more concerned with “deep analytics and polished reporting” than any of the marketing trends du jour, like account-based marketing or machine learning.

Figure 3

I often remind members of my team that their first job is keeping their job. In other words, focus first and most fiercely on what leadership expects of you. If leadership is expecting marketing to produce deep, polished reports that prove impact on revenue, then why aren’t these massive marketing automation vendors delivering the goods? Why aren’t they helping their customers keep their jobs? The report doesn’t answer that question, but hypotheses abound.

The obvious answer is: Reporting is hard, like really hard. Anyone who has seen Scott Brinker’s sprawling marketing technology landscape “supergraphic” realizes there are thousands of vendors in this industry, and reconciling data from all of them is a daunting task.

Another reasonable perspective is that reporting is insufficiently sexy. It doesn’t gin up PR in the way that, say, a new artificial intelligence product might. And there’s some evidence to support this conclusion. Of the 127 press releases issued by marketing automation vendors last year, only four centered on analytics features, a fraction of the announcements on artificial intelligence, machine learning, or account-based marketing.

But if you were to ask me, I’d offer a slightly different take. I believe MAPs have created their own monster. Their technology has whetted our appetite for data and their promises have aroused our imagination. We now know what’s possible, and so too do our bosses. But because every marketing automation vendor’s reporting solution is comparably deficient, there’s nowhere for us to churn. Until one vendor begins to meet our revenue reporting needs, there’s no sense of urgency for the others to invest in analytics.

To better understand what marketing automation users feel their platforms are missing, in partnership with Heinz Marketing, we conducted a survey over 11 days in October 2017. The responses came from 410 marketing and sales professionals who use Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Pardot, HubSpot, or Act-On. Survey respondents represented multiple industries and ranged in size from SMB organizations to large enterprises. Read the full report here. 

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

“Closed Reason” is one of the most valuable, yet underutilized, pieces of data that a sales organization can collect about its opportunities. Understanding the reasons why opportunities close, especially when they are lost, allows your sales team to adapt their strategy, provide targeted training, and better communicate with R&D about prospect demands. If your organization isn’t tracking Closed Reason, you’re not alone. It slips through the cracks in many sales departments. To help you take advantage of this trove of intelligence, we’ve compiled some interesting results based on how our customers employ Closed Reason data.

Before we get into the reasons themselves, it’s worth taking a moment to understand why we care about this in the first place. Understanding why opportunities are being closed can help you modify your sales approach, product positioning, or even the product itself. While most organizations focus on reasons why opportunities are lost, there’s no fundamental reason why you can’t also track this data for won deals. You’re tracking Opportunity Type, right? Is “price.” for example, more commonly a reason why you lose or win a deal?  

Sales operations pros who track “Closed Reason” typically focus on loss reasons, so let’s dive into what you can do with that information.

  • Modify sales strategy: If the reason you’re losing opportunities is because of competition, it may be time to rethink the way you position or sell. This can take a variety of forms, and may involve working with R&D or marketing to shift product perception. Price is another example in this category.
  • Focus training efforts: Reasons like “Unresponsive” or “No Decision” may indicate that a rep (or a team) is struggling to engage with prospects, and this is an area where managers can focus their training efforts. Similarly, “Timing” or “Poor Qualification” suggests there’s a need for training on your frontlines or with your business development reps.
  • Better communication with R&D: Understanding that opportunities are being lost because of “Features” or “Functionality” gives the sales team leverage in conversations with R&D. When coupled with a field that allows your team to capture additional details and training that encourages them to capture specific needs your product doesn’t currently meet, you can provide clear signal to the R&D team to help the business capture more deals.

One final note before we look at the reasons. “Reason Closed” needs to be a single picklist; no ifs, ands, or buts. Multi-select picklists and free-text fields are a nightmare for data analysis. Feel free to have those fields in addition to the single picklist. This may require some training and clear definitions for the sales team as to when a reason should be selected and how to decide which reason was the “primary” reason. However, at the end of the day, that’s the data you need, and a single picklist is the best way to capture it.

When looking across the InsightSquared client base, these 10 reasons appeared on opportunities for the greatest number of clients. In other words, most of our clients give their sales reps these options:

  1. Price
  2. Other
  3. Competition
  4. Budget
  5. Timing
  6. Poor Qualification
  7. Unresponsive
  8. Feature
  9. No Decision
  10. Duplicate

Different from above, these 10 reasons appeared on the greatest percentage of opportunities:

  1. Other
  2. Competition
  3. Price
  4. Unresponsive
  5. Budget
  6. No Decision
  7. Timing
  8. Poor Qualification
  9. Lost Momentum
  10. Duplicate

In the two lists above “Other” appears as #1 and #2 in the lists. It’s present in most clients’ Salesforce.com instances and when present it’s used frequently. In fact, when present, it is the most frequently selected option for more clients than any other reason. It is the top reason for 25% more clients than the next most frequently used reason (which happens to be “Unresponsive”).

“So what?” you might be asking. Well, another way to interpret this data is that when given the option to select “Other”, sales reps will chose it more frequently than any other option. Essentially, when given the opportunity to cop out, users take it. “Cop out” may seem like a harsh way to put it but, from a data analysis perspective, “Other” is a completely useless data point and allowing users to use it means you are allowing them to throw away the largest portion of your data set.

There are two solutions to this:

Don’t allow “Other” as an option: This solution forces users to select something else. However, this can also be less dynamic; it may encourage users to select a reason that isn’t truly the “primary” simply because they don’t have the option they need. In this case, it’s necessary to have a clear process for users to surface their need for a different reason. Typically in this case the burden falls on sales operations to field these requests and make decisions about what to implement or ignore.

Use “Other” with a review process: This option allows reps to select “Other” when they don’t have the option they feel they need. To ensure good data, consider:

  • Manager review: When “Other” is selected as an option the rep must justify the selection to their manager. In this way, opportunities where a different option would be more appropriate can be caught, and so the usage of “Other” will not represent laziness on the part of the sales rep.
  • Data backfill: If coupled with a free text field where reps can store additional details, along with a process for ensuring it is filled out when “Other” is selected, the free text can be reviewed on a regular basis. If in this review there are clear patterns for reasons, those reasons can be added to the system and the opportunities adjusted accordingly.

Notes on Methodology

The information above was sourced from the InsightSquared client database. At the time of writing, over 500 clients in the database were using a Reason Closed and had recorded at least one reason on a closed lost opportunity. The top 100 most frequently used reasons were inspected and 67 of those were normalized into 13 potential reasons (e.g., ‘Competitor’ and ‘Competition’ were normalized into ‘Competition’), with the remainder passing through unmodified. “Most frequently available” is defined as appearing at least once in the data of the greatest number of distinct clients. “Most frequently used” was determined by comparing the number of opportunities with each reason to the number of opportunities closed lost with any reason recorded, and then summing that frequency across all clients. In this way, clients with a high number of opportunities do not skew the data.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Sales operations has been around for quite some time, but lately the function has been gaining momentum. Instead of behind-the-scenes sales support, sales ops now acts as a strategic partner for sales VPs and leadership.

It’s clear that sales ops plays a critical role in any organization, but creating your own sales operations team can be a daunting task. Who do you hire first? How should the team be structured?

While it may feel overwhelming, getting the right folks in place sooner rather than later is key. It will also ensure you have a solid foundation for growth, reducing the need to fix broken systems and bad habits later on.

Where to Start: CRM

Start building out your sales operations department by hiring someone to own your CRM. This person will administer the system and maintain the database.

Your CRM is the backbone of your organization. It’s where you’ll track leads to opportunities to closed deals and everything in between. Not only that, but you’ve also invested tens of thousands of dollars in the tool, so hire someone who knows the system. Whatever you do, don’t skimp here by letting employees tinker around with it on their off time. Let a sales ops expert handle the heavy lifting. Would you let your teenager learn how to drive in a Bentley?

Define Processes and Reporting

Once you’ve established a dedicated owner of your CRM, sales ops will need to define processes and communicate them to the team. This will ensure everyone knows what’s expected of them, while also laying the foundation for solid reporting (garbage in, garbage out). The resulting reports will set the metrics and KPIs for which sales will be held accountable. They’ll also drive your sales forecast and allow leadership to make data-driven, rather than gut-based, decisions.

Get Deals Done

The next place to focus is on getting deals done. Your sales reps will inevitably need help with quoting, proposal generation, and getting orders processed. Luckily, sales ops can help with all the above. They’ll ensure guidelines are properly adhered to and contracts are being executed, all while simultaneously working to eliminate barriers that slow down the contracting process.

Enable With Tools and Training

I like to think of enablement as the tools and training sales needs to be successful. It’s basic, but it works when your business is still young. This means that sales ops will build a comprehensive tech stack (prospecting tools, email tracking, dialers, contract automation, etc.) that streamlines manual, redundant, or time-consuming tasks for your reps. In addition, sales ops should also focus on training your reps on anything from product to process to the various tools they’ll be using daily. You can add a more formal sales enablement role later.

For the Future

When you’re starting out, you may have only one or two folks manning sales operations, juggling all the tasks outlined above. As your sales ops team matures, however, the group will grow, and their focus will expand to other areas as well, including:

  • Territory planning
  • Quota and compensation planning
  • Go-to-market strategy
  • Renewals management
  • Collaborating with other teams (Marketing, Customer Success, Support, etc.)
  • Eliminating silos and integrating the customer journey end-to-end

Conclusion

Tackling the list above is no small feat, and that’s why it’s essential to hire specifically for the sales ops role. Don’t make the mistake of having one of your full-time employees take this on as a side project. The result will be inefficiency at best and complete failure at worst.

Your sales VP should focus on hiring, coaching, and scaling the sales team. Marketing should concentrate on driving leads into the funnel. Sales ops, on the other hand, is designed to own your systems and processes, and they’ll optimize the performance of your sales team and business. So, what are you waiting for? Time to start recruiting!

Stefanie Tial is the Director of Commercial Operations at The Rainmaker Group and the creator of Next Level Sales Ops, a site dedicated to hungry Sales Ops pros looking to level up in their careers. She has helped build out the Sales Ops function at two Atlanta-based software companies and been part of $1.84B in acquisitions as a result. She’s currently working on a third.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Put yourself into the shoes of a software sales rep. Imagine how excited you are to call this hot prospect who booked time on your calendar to demo your product. One of your goals for the call is to get this prospect to sign up for a free trial. You know that if you can just get them using your killer product, a commision is not far away.

Unbeknownst to you though, halfway through your kickass demo, the prospect you are speaking with blurts out that they signed up for a free trial two days ago and instead had specific questions they wanted answered before making a purchase decision. If only you had known that your prospect had already signed up for a free trial and was farther along the buying journey. Having that context could have meant you spent your time closing a prospect who was close to buying, rather than wasting their time.

Now imagine you are that rep’s sales manager and you have over a dozen reps working for you who struggle to understand, without moving between various systems, how their prospects are interacting with your product. Switching between systems is a productivity killer, not to mention that your reps’ sales pipelines become inaccurate because they don’t always know which of their leads have signed up for free trials, used various parts of your product, or if you have a self-service option, transacted.

Countless tools will integrate with your CRM to send it information on what content a prospect or lead is consuming, what pages they have viewed, or what events they have gone to. But what about the data specifically related to the usage of your product itself? That’s far, far different than website activity.

Thankfully though it’s far from impossible to send that data to your CRM and the value is immense. When you put product-level data in the hands of sales right within your CRM, you make your reps more efficient, more productive, and they will probably close more business. It can power sales automation, such as automation moving deals to the next stage based on a lead signing up for a free trial, or even better automation that closes a deal based on a customer account being created. Say hello to a clean pipeline free of human error!

Product-level data can also power lead scoring, and it can provide invaluable context for your reps. For example, when a rep knows that the lead they are speaking with has used the email tool within your product, but not the SMS tool, that can guide their phone conversations and the messaging they use in their follow-up emails.

Such data is arguably even more powerful in the world of account management where cross-selling or upselling is the name of the game. Being able to build automation powered by product data that creates a task for an account manager to reach out to a customer about to hit a usage threshold can be a lot more effective than the traditional ‘spray and pray’ method of upselling.

At ezCater, the only nationwide marketplace for business and corporate catering, our salespeople have product-level data on every CRM record they look at. They know what caterers a lead looked at, the date they created their account, what food types they ordered, what city they ordered in, and so much more. All of this data doesn’t just provide context for our reps, it also powers our sales automation. Deals are created or closed based on transactions, not a rep manually moving a deal. This elimination of human error keeps our sales pipelines clean and accurate.

OK, so how do you build it?

Unfortunately, you might need a developer to get product data into your CRM unless you have a tool like Pendo that easily integrates. Thankfully, most CRMs have extensive API documentation that can walk a developer through integrating your product. Here at ezCater, we integrated our product with Hubspot using Hubspot’s suite of APIs, the key one being the contacts API. Salesforce.com and other CRMs have similar APIs around both contacts and leads.

If you’re worried about getting your developers on board, you can test the value of having product data in your CRM using tools like Zapier or Azuqua. Both of those systems can receive data via webhooks or API and then send it to CRMs As a last resort, you can also import data to your CRM manually via CSV once a day during your test to prove out the value of having product-data available for your sales team.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Boston’s Trident Booksellers and Cafe thrums on a Saturday morning. The place is packed — Busboys bustle past waiting patrons to drop off clean glasses for the bartenders, only to be coaxed out of the way by a waiter looking for their next order, or a host seating a table. The kitchen rages, tossed about under the weight of tickets from the two dining rooms. All morning, and into the afternoon, the staff never stops moving. Even as the numbers dwindle they continue to dance around the room cleaning up, seeing to the last of the guests and preparing for tomorrow.

This unfolding scene pays homage to the operating challenges and pressures of the restaurant industry. These experiences have been distilled through generations of chefs, waiters, and restaurateurs into a set of organizational best practices that are held to with a religious zeal by some of the top minds in their industry. The militant personnel organization of the Brigade System, or the strict philosophies of Mise en Place offer us outsiders a glimpse into the systems these business leaders use to manage the controlled chaos that is a restaurant in full swing.

As operations professionals, we can draw on these concepts as we plan and scale businesses. In the past, I wrote about how sales reps can leverage the ideas of Mise en Place to master organizing their own day. In this series of posts, we will explore how we can apply the organizational principles of restaurants to the lives of staff in growth organizations. Specifically, we will focus in on what we can do as operations leaders to reduce the duplication of effort and the administrative load that the teams we support must grapple with in order to accomplish their primary objectives.

We will begin with a simple concept in Mise En Place: Always keep everything you need in arms reach. In his book Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain equates preparing a cooks “‘meez’ – his set-up, his carefully arranged supplies of sea salt, rough-cracked pepper, softened butter, cooking oil, wine, backups and so on”1 with soldiers gearing up for war. In these two circumstances — restaurants and combat —  it feels obvious that everything you’d need must be on hand. If you left all of your cooking oils down two flights of stairs, it’ll add an excruciating amount of time to preparing each dish.

Scaling teams often overlook when we ask our staff to preverbially ‘run down the stairs’ before starting each activity they do in their CRM. To fix this, we can think about a few simple things:

1. What pieces of data will be required before starting each activity and is that data clearly accessible in one place?

A clear example is outbound prospecting teams that will often need to reference a nearby customer in their talk tracks. If that data lives in a separate system your players have to slow down and navigate away from your main CRM each time they want to start a call.

2. Are all of your labels and naming conventions sensible to a someone without explanation?

I personally have dropped the ball on this one frequently as a human who’s good at abstractions. My brain doesn’t struggle to translate Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 into SMB, Mid Market, and Enterprise. For other players this can often be confusing and it’s not hard to understand why. Making these picklists more colloquial allows other teams to more easily digest the information you’re presenting to them.

3. Is all of the data currently being presented to a player useful to them?

It should be a high crime to leave all the fields you have in CRM visible to everyone. Take the time to clean this up and use role-based permissioning to restrict who sees what. Inevitably, this will help new players in particular understand what is important for them to use, or enter into the system.

4. Do the layouts on each object put the most important information up top?

I’ll always remember working at one company where we had left the ‘Status’ field all the way at the bottom of the record. We wanted BDRs to update this on every call to track where the prospect was in our sales cycle. Leaving ‘Status’ below the fold resulted in players constantly forgetting to update this information. Further, the players who were using it had to scroll and search for the field every time they wanted to make an edit. An admin could have fixed it in about the same amount of time it took one of those players to find that field once. It was being done multiple times a day by a team of almost 30 people.

Growth has a dramatic effect on the complexity of our business systems. Couple this with natural occurring difficulties in communication as your team grows leads to a breakdown in disparate teams’ understandings of your CRM. As headcount surges, what specific fields mean, why they are useful, and when the business requires that information can be lost in the shuffle. While these kind of organization questions are a small problem for an early-stage company, the cost of these challenges, and the ROI of fixing them grows exponentially. Keep paying attention to the way you present information, not just the content of that information. This will help speed up the entire business, remove obstacles from players’ paths, and drive up adoption of CRM tools.

1Bourdain, Anthony. Kitchen confidential: adventures in the culinary underbelly. London, Bloomsbury, 2013. Page 65

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Guest blog by Ashley Coleman, Director of Marketing Operations at UserIQ

The concept of the customer journey is all the rage these days. It seems like every SaaS business wants to structure their sales, marketing and customer success team around a “customer journey framework” as the ultimate display of alignment. But for the most part, sales and marketing operations professionals have been busy working to unite sales and marketing around a spiraling technology stack, causing us to neglect a fundamental piece of the puzzle: the customer.

We’ve done great work over the last 10 years to get marketing and sales on the same page, and now, as customers’ expectations elevate, is the time to focus on bringing customer success to the table. We need to shift the conversation from departmental operations and start talking about the concept of lifecycle operations. The buyer-to-customer journey needs to be one in the same and the flow of your data should reflect that. Our buyers should not feel the rocky transitions between each department and the reality is that most of us have not refined this path. But we must.

Lifecycle Nurturing

There is so much opportunity to let the past inform our direction here. Sales and marketing have made effective use of personalization at the lead and opportunity stages. Now we need to be relentless in carrying that momentum all the way through to customer advocacy. And besides, our customers expect us to deliver tailor-made experiences … after all, we personalized our messaging before they ever bought in the first place. With lifecycle nurturing, it’s on operations professionals to ensure that this commitment echoes through the way engage with our customers, integrate our systems, and optimize our workflows.

The beauty here is that great marketing starts with having in depth knowledge of our best customers. There are many ways organizations arrive at their ideal customer profile, but I think we can do even better. Account-based marketing tools identify top prospects with algorithms built to account for demographic and firmographic data of current customers. But what if we could incorporate user behavior into that equation? Having data on how users are successfully onboarded, behave in your product, and which features are most valuable to specific personas are the type of insights we require to excel in this prospect-to-advocate journey.

Emergence of Customer Success Operations

Here’s where I get most excited. In the post-conversion world of nurturing through the customer journey, we will find ourselves with the same needs that emerged from lead nurturing and sales funnel management. We are going to want all the user analytics, reports, and insights we can get our hands on as customers move through each stage of the customer journey. From there, companies will want to understand how to accelerate the velocity of that movement.

For example, similar to multi-touch attribution at the lead level, we will seek to understand what cluster of activities transpired with your power users versus what series of actions signal the making of a non-adopter. We will start to monitor and measure the customer growth funnel and talk about it in the same way we do the sales funnel. Here are some customer success operations questions I see us asking in the near future:

  •      How are you managing your customer growth pipeline?
  •      What are your customer growth funnel conversion ratios?
  •      What are best practices for customer growth pipeline management?
  •      How long should customers be in each stage of the journey?
  •      How can we work smarter around customer growth forecasting based on historical data trends?

This movement in our space is captivating and full of uncharted waters. The business impact an individual can have incorporating a lifecycle operations approach is invaluable. You should be passionate about this and you should be talking about it within your organization. My challenge to you – what can you do today to contribute to or prepare for this movement?

If you’d like to continue the conversation, email me at ashley@useriq.com!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

During a recent analysis of the available “operations” jobs on LinkedIn, we discovered a significant number of “revenue operations” jobs — 59,110 to be exact. It sparked the question, “Is revenue operations just another word for sales operations, or are the roles fundamentally different?”

We spoke to several operations professionals to help us better define revenue ops, and understand how the role fits into an organization relative to sales ops.

We asked Dheer Gupta, director of revenue operations and strategy at HappyCo, if he considered sales operations and revenue operations to be synonymous. He said, “Revenue operations can be seen as the merging of sales, marketing and customer success operations; however, I view rev ops more as a natural evolution where organizations are seeing value in merging the strategic aspects of various operation teams while leaving the day-to-day administrative structures of marketing, sales and customer success teams somewhat intact.”

So, if revenue operations isn’t just another buzzy title for sales operations, what is it exactly?

Ross Nibur, director of revenue operations and strategy at Toast noted, “Revenue operations is about taking a more holistic, end-to-end approach to managing operations across your organization. What I’ve seen happen is a siloing in data structure and processes for marketing, customer, services, and sales teams. The problem is that you need data that will tell you the entire story in order to optimize your business. You can’t think of your operations teams as individual systems that work together — they need to work as one machine.”

We asked Eileen Chow, director of demand generation and marketing operations at Evergage, about her definition of the revenue operations role and she proposed: “It’s a hybrid role that merges operations knowledge, business intelligence, and strategy to fill in gaps at organizations that lack an owner in one of these areas, or is at a size where it’s hard to get a bird’s eye view.

In 2017, we talked a lot about the goal and strategic value sales operations offers an organization — what’s the objective of the revenue operations department?

Joe Gelata, vice president of business operations at Axonify, noted, “The main goal of revenue operations is to break down the operations silos. The rev ops team is the central hub of information for the entire organization.”

“I believe if an organization commits to revenue operations, they are making it the team’s objective to be collectively more strategic about their decisions and go-to-marketing activities,” added Chow.

The revenue operations department should focus on measuring revenue-based metrics, particularly longer-term goals for an organization. Gupta noted, “A revenue operations team helps SaaS organizations achieve their KPIs by optimizing and solidifying cross-department processes throughout the customer lifecycle.”

When we asked about the key metrics a rev ops team might measure, our experts said it depends on the organization size, goals and structure, but here are a few they all agreed on: customer acquisition, bookings, annual recurring revenue, cash collections, customer churn and satisfaction, net new revenue and gross profit.  

Chow added, “As talent is a key driver of growth and is expensive to invest in, revenue operations should also take note of employee retention and satisfaction to make sure that growth is sustainable from an organizational perspective.”

Each practitioner had a different experience with the reporting and communication structure of the revenue operations team. However, most agreed that revenue operations should report directly into a member of the executive team whether that’s the CFO, CRO or CEO. Gelata advised, “You need to understand insights and be able to question the assumptions at a strategic level.”

Additionally, all agreed that for revenue ops to focus on identifying and scaling activities that will drive bottom-line growth, they must collaborate with their colleagues in marketing, customer and sales operations. One solution: put a structured reporting process in place across the various ops teams, set individual goals, as well as collective team goals so the measurement strategy remains clear at all times.

“Because revenue operations has stakeholders in marketing, sales, and customer success there needs to be some level of cross reporting in place with the heads of these departments,” said Gupta, who later added, “By taking on some of the strategic and technical overhead from existing operational teams we’re able to have better line of sight throughout the customer lifecycle and better align the contributions of revenue adjacent teams to achieve KPIs and metrics that matter the most.”

Revenue operations isn’t another word for sales, or any other operations title for that matter — it’s primary goal is to collaborate with revenue adjacent teams to hit KPIs that enable the company to scale, and achieve long-term growth.

Do you have experience starting a revenue operations team at your company? We’d love to hear your story. Contact pr@insightsquared.com.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview