5 Steps to Build a Better Sales Operations Playbook
Learn the 5 steps to build an effective sales operations playbook. Stop chasing perfection and start making real changes to your sales process. Go back to fundamentals, focus on process over perfection, start small, always be monitoring, and be proactive.
In your extensive backlog of tasks, do you have one that’s been sitting there for months? One called “update sales process”? Have you avoided it like the plague because you’re waiting for the moment when you’ll have enough time to make it perfect?
I hate to break it to you, but there’s no such thing as a perfect playbook.
That doesn’t mean you should throw your sales process into the trash and tell your reps it’s a free-for-all. But it does mean reframing your aspirations. Because you actually don’t want to have a perfect playbook. The moment you roll it out, it’ll already be outdated.
Instead, try out these five approaches so you can stop chasing that illusory perfect playbook and start making real changes to your sales process.
Go back to fundamentals
The three fundamental building blocks of revenue optimization are people, tools, and process. Of these three, process is the first and foremost building block of your company.
Unless you understand what your process is, you can’t know which people you need or what roles you need them to fill. Your team—once they have a process, of course—can do a surprising amount on Excel or Sheets, and when you discover you need additional tools, you can seek them out. But what you can’t do is build an effective process on top of a glitzy toolkit for people who aren’t sure exactly what their tasks are.
Go back to fundamentals, and start at the right place: process.
Step 1: Focus on process over perfection
There’s no magic spell book that covers every one of your company’s processes. Magic spell books can’t keep up with the level of flexibility your operation requires. A process is a living, breathing thing—constantly changing. If you’re aiming for that perfect step-by-step process, you’re likely not evolving and improving.
Think of it like bringing a stunning cake to a party. You intend to bring something tasty for your friends to share, but instead get so wrapped up in piping on every flawless decoration that by the time you actually arrive, the party’s over. You missed out by focusing too much on a perfect product instead of prioritizing what was important.
Don’t get wrapped up in chasing perfection. Before you know it, that “foolproof playbook” won’t apply anymore. Your process needs room to develop and be flexible enough to respond to fresh challenges.
Step 2: Start small
If you hand your team a whole new playbook, you’re likely to overwhelm them. They might retain those new steps for a few weeks, but it’s not really sustainable. Instead, start with small process changes, focusing on a few key metrics or activities for each modification.
Let’s say that your reporting shows a lower conversion rate from email leads compared to those generated from social media. Rather than a major overhaul, narrow your focus to this particular segment. Your current playbook stipulates that sales reps respond to incoming email queries within 5 days. They’re meeting that benchmark successfully, yet conversion rates are still low.
You decide to change your process and reduce that turnaround time from 5 days to 5 hours. Now, monitor the results. Are your sales reps able to meet the reduced turnaround time? Does the reduction have a measurable impact on prospects’ trajectory or speed through the pipeline?
Modest changes are easier to monitor, so you can see what’s actually making a difference.
Step 3: Always be monitoring
Let’s be real: the only way to identify what’s working and what needs improvement is to observe your process and track results. Choose a couple of key metrics to measure your progress, and you’ll see your process aligning with the results.
For instance, say your sales team is chasing too many leads at the top of your funnel, maybe wasting time on prospects that aren’t a great fit for your product. You’ve started tracking lead gen KPIs to pinpoint the problem—number of leads, number of sessions, lead value. Be methodical in how you monitor these KPIs, and give your team sufficient time to see how process changes affect their results.
In our example, although the number of leads is high and engagement seems solid, your reps just aren’t closing deals. So you decide to review your lead value process and you make some changes to how the value is calculated, resulting in more high quality leads. If this doesn’t yield results, continue adjusting your practices to find what doeswork. But if it does, then you can celebrate your improved conversion rate.
When monitoring and adjusting are a regular part of your process, you can pinpoint where process tweaks are actually making a difference. After all, it tends to be 20% of the effort that creates 80% of the results.
Step 4: Be proactive, not reactive
In a fast-moving market, if you’re reacting—you’re moving too slowly. Don’t wait for problems to arise. If regular check-ins on your process are second nature, then you’re more likely to see those molehills coming before they turn into mountains. And you can take action to avoid them (or flatten them).
Let’s revisit our team that’s tightening up their email response time from 5 days to 5 hours. They’ve had a lot of success with this speedier turnaround. Instead of getting complacent with their new timeline, however, you move on to examining other aspects of their process.
You notice that their initial response time has improved greatly, but they’re failing to follow up with prospects when they don’t show up to a demo. When 44% of salespeople give up after just one follow-up attempt, that’s a lot of sales you’re leaving on the table. Continue refining that process, and set a timeline for follow-up emails and phone calls.
When you continue to be proactive about monitoring your sales process, you can catch those deals that might otherwise fall through the cracks.
Step 5: Take your sales process off the back burner
Don’t let updating your sales process languish on your to-do list. Gluework’s process monitoring software lets you attack manageable, bite-sized pieces of your sales process, so you can measure, see, and implement meaningful change.
Creating a process is…well, a process. Don’t waste any more time chasing the illusion of the perfect playbook. Take control of your process, and contact Gluework for a demo today.
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