Sales Operations Leads to Competitive Advantage in 2016 | 3 Data Points
Summary: Sales Operations is not a new business practice; it is a transfigured one. Replacing the traditional efficiency decisions of the 90s, post-CRM Sales Operations is now generating some of the most impactful strategic wins in 2016.
#1 Case-in-Point: Winners Take All Customers with Sales Operations Advantage
Take a quick look at Retail Banking — where sales support and customer service is remaking customer engagements. Firms are crowding in the door for mobile application development and other IT services, which allow their customers to interface directly with their accounts, contact representatives, and perform self-service operations like mobile deposits, bill pay, and transfers from anywhere. Not only have these customer-facing services reduced operations costs; they have attracted and retained customers in a time of rampant disloyalty, separating the winners from the losers.
“This year’s benchmarking showed, once again, that banks leading in measures of operational and digital excellence reaped the lion’s share of financial rewards. They achieved 50% higher average pretax profit per customer than the median, while their operating expenses per customer were 30% less, a savings largely driven by lower personnel and IT costs.” (BCG: Retail Bank Operational and Digital Leaders Reap the Rewards, May 2016)
#2 B2B Customers Demand Collaborative Transaction Environments
B2B transactions have always been more personable and collaborative than B2C purchases. Orders are high dollar and impactful. Customers require advanced customization features and a lengthier purchase process in B2B relative to consumer transactions. This was as true in 1980 as it is in 2016.
However, B2B buyers have begun to prefer and in some cases require more convenient communications platforms. Depending on source, 50-70% of the purchase process is now completed online by the time a B2B buyer speaks to a sales rep, which puts pressure on Sales to remove barriers, work closely with Marketing and act much more quickly to close the deal.
Another pressure point is that many purchase agreements necessitate large amounts of data to be exchanged as buyers and sellers generate new solutions to address specific needs. Accelerating change in the business environment makes timeliness of these deals more valuable.
The solution is simplification driven by the sales enablement platform. Sales enablement allows complex, onerous processes to be automated while enriching communications between buyer and seller. This leads to better customer experience, quicker dealmaking, enhanced employee engagement AND reduced SG&A as a percentage of profit.
“The benefits of automation include not just an increase in efficiency but also greater agility in responding to different kinds of customer requests. Automation has helped some companies cut the number of process steps by as much as 40 percent, significantly reducing complexity and its attendant costs.” (PwC: The New Sales Enablement: From back-office support to growth engine, July 2015)
Business process improvement is another critical area now touched by sales operations
#3 Big Three Management Consultancies Emphasize Sales Operations as the Key Differentiator in 2016
Sales Operations Consultancies like ALTAVI can produce white papers ad nausium about a new trend before more traditional companies take note. ALTAVI has delivered sales operations consulting and implementation since 2013; only now are we seeing global leaders discuss our area of discipline as a source of differentiation.
“In our experience, companies that build world-class sales-operations functions can realize one-time improvements of 20 to 30 percent in sales productivity, with sustained annual increases as high as 5 to 10 percent in some cases.” (McKinsey & Co: Looking beyond technology to drive sales operations, June 2016)
Considering that sales operations played for small stakes only ten years ago, the positive attention displayed by global players is remarkable, particularly the latter’s suggestion to invest 1:1 in sales operations to sales execution. Spend equal resources on shaping work as on doing the work itself? Business, not just sales operations, has reached a new stage in its evolution.