Four Lessons from Insight’s Second Sales Operation Summit

by Matthew Harper

Following the success and demand created by our first Sales Operations Summit in February 2019, Onsite’s Sales Center of Excellence hosted a second summit in May for an additional 25 portfolio company leaders.

The two-day agenda comprised learning about critical Sales Operations topics, experience sharing, and relationship building. Event highlights included an interactive training on LEAN practices and a “fireside chat” with Jenny Hadlow who scaled Sales Operations at Yext from startup to public company.

Below is an outline of the most tactical learnings from the summit:

1) Sales Ops matures in parallel to the company’s evolution: 

In all organizations, complexity increases as companies scale in both revenue and team size.  Sales Operations is no exception. Insight’s Sales Operations Maturity Model outlines the changes in responsibility and support that Sales Ops needs to provide to the entire sales team depending on the company’s maturity. When a Sales Ops team is first formed, responsibilities are limited to the operating needs that “keep the business running,” such as monitoring the health of the business, enforcing consistent data hygiene and CRM best practices, and ensuring the sales reps adhere to a defined sales process. However, as the team matures, Sales Ops’ scope of responsibility expands to include significant change implementations such as adjusting headcount and compensation plans, designing territories, and defining the high-level organizational goals that align to corporate strategy.

2) Prescriptive account segmentation leads to efficient resource deployment

Without account segmentation, sales resources tend to be inefficiently deployed. Account segmentation aligns sales teams to target customers by revenue potential. There are specific methodologies and data inputs to do this effectively to ensure sales reps are focused on the correct accounts, territories are balanced, and quotas are set appropriately. The first input in the account segmentation model is the customer’s propensity to buy, which is quantified using various data points including the customer’s industry, revenue, number of facilities, number of employees, and year over year growth. The other two inputs are long term spend potential, which is based on the spending patterns of similar companies in the market, and the percentage of the customer's spend that is allocated to the specific type of product or service (share of wallet). Together, these three inputs create a scoring methodology used to define the ideal customer profile and prioritize accounts. The goal is to efficiently align resources to revenue targets.

3) Compensation plans can drive behavior to yield desired business outcomes 

Insight’s Operating Partner, Pablo Dominguez and SVP of Sales Operations at Conga, Mike Sitter discussed their experiences designing compensation plans to drive desired sales rep behavior. They touched on the foundations of good plans including how compensation should be determined by job function and activity criteria rather than job title, and that a healthy compensation structure has an even mix of fixed (salary) and at-risk (target variable incentives, upside, etc.) pay.  With effective structuring, it’s possible to cultivate a motivated, “pay for performance” culture by leveraging certain payout mechanics. For example, accelerators can motivate high performing reps to go above and beyond their respective quota to earn a higher multiple payout rate. Additionally, Sales Performance Inventive Funds (SPIFs) can help drive business goals and reenergize the sales team by offering an extra incentive/ prize for selling a specific product offering or into a specific customer base.

4) Discipline around pipeline management ensures accurate forecasting 

Through 20 years of working with software companies to achieve their quarterly targets, Insight understands the value of analytical rigor in pipeline management and forecasting. Along with a well-defined sales process, and sales stages that include buyer-exit criteria, the following six key metrics should be tracked across the pipeline to ensure velocity, accuracy, and visibility: 

  1. Coverage: size of the pipeline,
  2. Strength: percent of opportunities in “commit,” 
  3. Maturity: percent of opportunities in the late stages of the pipeline, 
  4. Concentration: distribution across all stages, 
  5. Linearity: close date distribution throughout the fiscal year, and 
  6. Hygiene: trustworthiness of the data in the pipeline. 

A consistently followed, data-driven system for pipeline management is essential to understand pipeline health, and moreover create accurate and transparent forecasts.

The purpose of Insight Onsite’s portfolio summits is to provide an opportunity for leaders to meet like-minded individuals and learn new and critical best practices. Companies embrace the chance to learn from their peers and implement learnings. Our goal is excellence. 

“This event has really provided me with the inspiration to drive towards excellence. It has re-energized me and I am very excited to return to work and kick things into high gear.”

– Quinn Brady, Community Brands

We will host a third Sales Operations Summit in Q4 2019.  Stay tuned for more details or click here to request an invitation to the event.

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Matthew Harper, Senior Analyst, Sales COE

Matthew Harper

Senior Analyst, Sales COE

Matt joined Insight in 2019. Prior to joining, Matt was a digital strategy consultant at IBM, where he worked on projects related to large-scale business growth, customer experience, and digital transformation. Matt also worked at The Cohen Group, a foreign affairs advisory firm in Washington…

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