The Art of Turnaround: Revamping Sales Operations for Success

In today’s rapidly evolving B2B business landscape, revamping sales operations is not just a strategy; it’s a necessity for survival and growth. Having led a significant turnaround in sales operations in my career, I’ve come to realize that the key to success lies in identifying core issues, implementing effective restructuring strategies, and making swift decisions.

There can be several reasons sales operations falter, but common core issues often include: outdated processes; misalignment between sales goals and market realities; inefficient use of technology, and a disconnect between business units and sales.

Outdated Processes

Traditional Selling Techniques

It may be more appropriate to say stale instead of traditional. Even though we are comfortably into the 2020s, it is not uncommon to encounter organizations continuing to rely on turn-of-the-millennia techniques like high volume cold calling, generic sales pitches, and ignoring (or not aware of) the modern customer’s buying modes and preferences.

Manual Data Management

Manual does simply translate to ‘paper.’ Manual handling of data can mean manual electronic data entry, high reliance on email with attachments, or color-coding data entry to MS Excel. Whatever the form, data management without benefit of even the most basic automation.

Inflexible Sales Strategies

Here, I speak to strategies that stagnate due to a failure to evolve with shifting market and customer dynamics. For instance, it has been well-acknowledged for nearly a decade that the B2B buyer’s journey is no longer linear; indeed, most customers are 60-70% through their purchasing process before they even reach out to the vendors they’ve short-listed. Despite this knowledge, many companies persist, using outdated linear sales funnels while overlooking the nuances of modern purchasing behavior.

Neglecting Customer Feedback

Lumped into this topic may also be never seeking customer feedback as well. Sales operations that do not incorporate regular customer input will be out of touch with changing customer needs and preferences.

Updating Sales Processes

How a business approaches systemic change is driven by many factors. Some of these may include current profitability (free cashflow to invest), the breadth of change needed, cultural acceptance that change is even required, and whether the right skills are available.

One approach may be to address the processes identified above, in reverse order.

Solicit Customer Feedback

Begin with actively collecting and analyzing customer feedback, regularly and consistently. You may be surprised to see how many functional areas your business’ customers can provide input on. Customer input can shine light into areas including purchase and payment processes, order fulfillment, sales’ ability to engage meaningfully, gaps in product development, and overall customer experience.

Agile Sales Strategies

Agile sales strategies are rooted in an understanding of customer needs that are ever-changing, evolving. The sales processes need to be flexible enough to accommodate the changes, and move away from being rigid, predetermined, and move toward being dynamic and responsive to the customer.

For brevity in the moment, three core strategies stand need highlighting. First, adopt a customer-centric approach. This isn’t just about listening; it’s about fully grasping the unique challenges and concerns of each customer. Active engagement and insightful interpretation are key. Second, commit to a data-driven methodology. This requires not just collecting data but refining and organizing it meticulously. Why? Because detailed, well-managed data lays the groundwork for analytics that truly reflect customer engagement and behavior throughout the sales journey.

Embrace Data Management Automation

It would be hard to find someone in business that could not speak to the value of automated versus manual data processes. Yet, many businesses resist improving. In today’s world, automating data processes is about more than mere modernization. Moving forward, adopting automation has become a critical step in scaling sales operations, accurate data capture, and making it possible to provide actionable insights for agile decision-making. Want to leverage AI? You need to have your backend squared away.

New, or Improved, Sales Strategies

Last for a reason, determining the best sales approach(es) for a company is dependent on the preceding items. It involves careful analysis of customer needs, market trends, unique product value/features and much more. It is critical to align the company’s sales strategy with its strengths, with market realities. It needs to resonate with company goals and customer needs, supported by data.

Wrap Up

Successfully navigating today’s B2B landscape requires businesses overhaul their sales operations. It can be a task that demands recognizing and rectifying core issues such as antiquated processes, misaligned strategies, and neglected or ignored customer feedback.

Pivoting towards agile sales strategies that prioritize customer needs and data-driven decision making is critical. Embracing data automation not only streamlines business operations, it also equips them to adapt quickly to market changes and customer behaviors.

In the end, refining sales strategies and processes to align with market analysis and a company’s unique value proposition are fundamental in developing resilience and driving growth. Especially, in a terrain marked by rapid change, competition, and uncertain economic conditions.