5 Key Factors to Keep Your Sales Operations Project on Course

Sales Project Risks

“One of our biggest findings was how much companies spend on sales operations. Special projects account for a significant amount of time and resources.” (McKinsey & Company)

McKinsey reports one high-tech company spent up to 30% of general & administrative expenses on sales operations when broadly defined as “all activities that support a quota-carrying sales team” and were “stunned by the level of spend”. Chances are, you don’t even have a sales operations budget line item unless that’s where you stash your Salesforce.com subscription fees, much less 30% of G&A. If you consider the time and energy consumed by cross-function and executive alignment with sales, you can imagine how it all adds up.

“70% of Sales Operations leaders have special projects and change management as a primary job responsibility”

1. Cyclical Projects:
      • Compensation plans
      • Territory model
      • Quota-setting
      • Sales kick-off
2. Sales Initiatives
      • Win-loss review
      • Competitive analysis
      • Sales knowledge base
      • Sales automation

One-time projects often involve new or replacement programs that become part of the ongoing operations effort. A major reason “special” projects are so resource intensive is that by definition it is the first time that you personally or the organization has undertaken the task. Imagine a home improvement project you’ve taken on. If it is your first and only attempt, you probably spent a lot of time just figuring it out and driving back and forth to Home Depot until you finally arrive at the right instructions, tools and materials to complete the job. The degree of difficulty isn’t the problem,  we just never get enough quality repetitions to become really proficient at the task.

“Leading a major project can be great exposure. Like sunshine, a little is good for you, too much at the wrong time is hazardous to your health.”

Being asked to run key sales initiative can be either the best or the worst thing to happen to your career, so make it a core competency. #1 piece of advice is to keep sales projects as simple and quick-hitting as possible. By simple, I mean embrace the 80/20 rule and focus where you get the best ROI on time invested. Know your audience and understand the rhythm of the 12-week sales quarter. Go for solutions that you can deliver in stages and refine over time based on user feedback.  Most projects should roll out in the first 3 weeks of the quarter, ideally as part of a quarterly kick-off meeting.

5 Keys to Sales Operations Projects:
      1. Prioritize
      2. Influence requirements and set expectations
      3. Project Plan
      4. Executive Alignment
      5. Roll-Out

MindJet for scope and requirements  (free trial)

TaskRay for project management integrated with SFDC (free trial)

Learn more about how you can tap into training, resources and experience to deliver on a critical sales initiative.  Be a hero on your next project.


About Neal Murphy

Neal Murphy is the publisher of Enterprise Sales Operations and former VP of Worldwide Sales & Operations with 20 years experience in enterprise technology.

+Neal Murphy +ESO