So it’s the day after torrential thunderstorms slowed down voting in the “Brexit” referendum for commuters in London & the South of England. Based upon turnout rates and affected railway lines, I've estimated that anything up to 500,000 people were kept away from the polling stations by torrential rains and flooded railway lines that at one point looked more like canals than termini.
And after that particular deluge, we find ourselves with another deluge, as the referendum popped up a surprise result.
Britain is leaving the European Community, although possibly not all together (hang on in there, Scotland!)
Now SalesOps tries to work with hard facts and data, and these have been pretty much lacking in the Brexit conversations running up to this historic vote.
However, what we can do is use data analysis tools to see how people were talking, even if what they were saying was nonsense.
Enter the brexit.atavist.com website, which has been following public commentary on social media sites that support hashtags.
Building out a compensation model for sales shouldn’t be that difficult. After all, most of us who have been in the position to manage this process have also been sales people once upon a time. As they used to say on the old Top Gear - "what could possibly go wrong?"
But the road to a compensation plan is strewn with paths that lead to unintended consequences.
Example. Forty years ago, US citizens were much more egalitarian than nowadays, and the Senate voiced concern that CEO pay scales seemed quite high at about ~30x the average worker’s remuneration.
Accordingly, the SEC pushed through a rule change that forced CEO salaries to be publicly disclosed. (You can see the train wreck already...)
Hiring the perfect SalesOps leader is a bit like looking for a rugby player that has played both in the scrum and as a fly-half.
The scrum is the operational end of the rugby business. All tactics. Putting your body on the line. The headgear they wear - scrum-caps - was invented to stop ears from coming off in the battle for the ball.
The fly-half is the team’s General. He stands behind the forwards as they fight each other for the ball, identifies weaknesses in the opposition and calls the plays to ensure the team scores. His job is predominantly strategic - and requires vision, alertness to change and the authority to get the other 14 players to follow his direction.
There’s not many who have both skill-sets - and those that do usually end up in the tactical, dirty end of the business.
Because in rugby, unless you can win the ball in the first place, the strategic stuff doesn’t really matter.
I can’t remember a sales job where I didn’t need to spend at least a fifth of my time building and tailoring content for my prospects.
Even when I worked with companies that serviced just one vertical market, every customer always had their own way of doing things and we had to re-message for nearly every engagement.
The standard sales deck – and we all have one or many of those lurking on our PC desktops – contains all the typical sales messages that Product Marketing think works well.
That’s from Marketing’s perspective, high up in an ivory tower in a country far far away, of course.
We’ve all seen it – and amazingly, despite having been burned by it, we still allow it to happen on our watch.
It’s the curse of a high week-1 forecast that is decimated by week-13.
The curse means that sales leaders look silly to their peers, the company misses its target, investors get twitchy - and it shows that SalesOps is not taking control of the situation.
The Aberdeen Group reckons that a typical corporate sales forecast is usually ~20% out even at 11:59pm on the last day of the quarter.
We’d like to think that this is due to that massive deal dropping into the next quarter unexpectedly. After all, that’s what happens when you go elephant hunting. But SalesOps can handle this situation with ease – even more so if there’s more than one elephant in any given quarter.
The challenge is if the “run rate” and the renewals business gets bent out of shape, or when the new name business is wildly optimistic. And if SalesOps doesn’t have strong processes in place, it’s all too easy to get continuously blindsided, quarter after quarter (if you get that long!)
Simply put, it’s SalesOps job “to develop a forecast analysis that helps minimize the gap between the sales reps’ deal-level commit and the actual revenue expectations of the company’s investors.”
We do this by understanding the cadence of quarterly deals by specific quarter, together with building robust operational processes that measure pipeline data in meaningful ways.
An old boss of mine used a variety of methods to measure the potential success of the quarter. For example, he knew exactly how much business had to be closed in month 1 and month 2 for any given quarter to be a guaranteed success. But he also counted customer briefing room diary bookings for the coming month, as well as custom demo builds – both surprisingly successful KPIs.
He also used sets of very specific customer focused questions on the sales team -which made it extremely obvious which deals were real and correctly positioned in the funnel.
By contrast, another ex-colleague loved ambiguity in forecasts – and didn’t last long when he started calling out “BMW” – best, median and worst numbers. He also threw in stretch, hard and soft commits and back-up deals into his mix, making the forecast all but meaningless to senior management and unintelligible to investors.
Sales people know that there are only two types of activities in their world – tasks which are “priority 1” - and the rest. The same goes for SalesOps when they prepare the quarterly number. Engineer the sales forecasting process to use just two measurements - “Forecast” and “Upside”. Nothing else matters.
If you’d like to know more about sales operations and its role in data driven forecasting, contact us here.
Methodical ramblings after twenty-five years in Sales, Marketing and SalesOps.