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Alleviate Ops Pain with Sales Automation

What’s true for any sales interaction is true for B2B sales. The process is about people. It’s about fostering relationships and building trust. But times are changing, and to keep up with the pace of change, B2B sales are being digitally transformed. 

If you’re an Ops leader determined to meet your growth and performance goals, let’s talk about sales tech, and what the right CPQ solution can do for you. 

Here’s a mind-blowing statistic: 85% of sellers reported losing or delaying deals due to key client stakeholders changing their role. All those lost opportunities, many because the most updated price quote or contract version is lost forever in an inbox that will never be opened again. 

Sales will always be about relationships and the personal touch, but with so much at stake, maybe it’s time to send in the machines.

The pains in the manual process

Ferraris used to be handcrafted. Each part of every car brandishing a prancing horse logo was a unique piece, made by hand. While we may all wish to own a Ferrari, if we’re being honest, we want to sell like Ford or BMW- in a high volume, automated, and predictable manufacturing environment, and a well-oiled sales process.   

The purpose of sales organizations, which aren’t supercar boutique manufacturers, is to sell.  Efficiently.  Manually creating one-off quotes can put a real dent in Sales performance, and a real hurdle on the company’s path to success.

Time is Money

The first issue with the manual sales process is time. Sales professionals are busy people, but as an Operations leader, you have to ask yourself- are they busy selling? 

Turns out sales reps spend as little as 30% of their time actually selling. What do they do with the rest of their time? Administrative tasks, data input, chasing approvals and signatures. We all  know running an efficient and productive sales team is what gets the gold. Literally. Freeing time for selling can directly affect the bottom line. 

If, for example, your sales reps are busy tracing the latest version of an agreement, or trying to push through approvals and signatures, then they’re investing precious time in contract management, not selling. 

Quote generation is another time trap, but a manual and lengthy quoting process can cost more than just time. With 35-50% of sales going to the vendor who responds first, it’s easy to understand why getting an accurate quote out as fast as possible is the key to success. 

A People Problem

Another problem with the manual process is, well, that it’s manual. Sales people are human, and as such, they sometimes make mistakes. Unfortunately, those mistakes are very costly. Research shows that a 1% increase in price can increase EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) by 22%. 

Product offerings, pricing, and discounts are constantly changing. Your team working off an outdated pricing book; a sales manager eager to meet quota and giving extra discounts; or a sales rep making a tiny mistake in data entry, could all carry big consequences. 

Here’s a routine scenario: Company X, is a SaaS company with thousands of customers worldwide, and hundreds of products, services, packages, and bundles. Quotes are generated using a pricing table on a static Excel workbook. Contracts are created using Microsoft Word, and relying on manual input of pricing, terms, and other deal data. What could go wrong? Brace yourself. 

Deep Impact

33% of sales reps are authorized to give discounts, but 80% report that they aren’t very confident about the margins – if they have visibility into costs and margins at all. Often, they input data manually and generate one-off quotes. 

In many B2B sales processes, teams are using different versions of an Excel spreadsheet, and that spreadsheet has its entry limits. It’s also likely maintained by one person who’s going on leave or retiring.  Glitches in pricing can seriously bruise your bottom line.

A lengthy sales cycle is another potential injury to performance. We mentioned that most customers accept the first quote they receive, but it’s more than that. The longer a process is, the more likely it is for something to go wrong. There’s just more friction, and time for error. 

Adding insult to injury, manual processes make it difficult to see upselling and cross-selling opportunities, which hold great revenue potential. They also make it harder to manage subscriptions and renewals. 

Data analysis and actionable insights are also hindered by the manual process, relying on Sales reps or CSMs to continually and consistently update information. This hurts predictability and forecasting which are ever more critical in a competitive market. 

The result is the stuff every Sales Ops leader’s nightmares are made of: valuable admin time spent on menial tasks, inconsistent and inaccurate quotes, order changes, and frequent help requests. 

A New Hope

An often overlooked hero in the original Star Wars trilogy is a little barrel of a robot called R2-D2. He’s really an animated swiss army droid, who accomplishes more mission-critical tasks than some of his human counterparts. 

R2 carries secret plans to the Death Star space station, delivers Princess Leia’s critical message, and arms Luke Skywalker with a lightsaber exactly when he needs it most. In short, he’s a major contributor to the team’s success.

Just in case you’re not a Star Wars buff (what?!), let’s just say this: R2D2 is a Jedi’s best friend, and sales automation can be yours. As a Sales Ops leader, you can harness the power of technology to assist you in your quest to shorten sales processes and eliminate human errors. 

There are powerful sales tech solutions to alleviate all of the manual process pains, and help you accomplish your goals. 

  1. CPQ Automation: Keep your teams updated with new products and pricing, reduce quoting errors, and increase sales productivity. CPQ takes away the pains of regular (and often ignored) email updates and cumbersome Excel spreadsheets. 

CPQ solutions can automatically suggest up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, based on the customer’s unique profile, and generate accurate quotes in minutes, saving time and making money. They also automate the approval process, and reduce admin burden. 

  1. CRM: Customer Relationship Management tools are at the center of most sales organizations. Using a CRM, organizations keep track of leads and customers and organize automated tracks, update activities, and manage contacts. 

CRMs share data with other sales automation tools, so teams and their leaders can utilize them effectively. 

  1. CLM: Contract Lifecycle Management tools help organizations monitor and streamline the contract phase of a deal. As if getting to the dotted line wasn’t hard enough, chasing signatures and approvals is tedious and confusing. 

CLM offers version control, visibility, and approval workflows that align all stakeholders and minimize the needs for any Ops intervention. CLMs often offer e-sign to various documents, shortening the waiting time and the process as a whole.

With the various sales tech tools available, it’s important to select the right ones. In order to be effective, tools need to integrate seamlessly with each other. Without this orchestration, managing a sales stack can be even more complicated, requiring more add-ons to keep tools connected. 

As an Operations leader, your main goal is to keep Sales running smoothly, with no kinks or pains. Harnessing the right sales tech can certainly deliver on its promise to automate menial tasks, drive sales efficiency, and deliver the data necessary for forecasts and optimization.  And, of course, close more deals faster. 

Sales Operations

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