• Revenue Operations

The Revenue Operations Glossary - 4

Agatha Bordonaro

The Revenue Operations Glossary - 4

Sales is a team sport. And when teams want to win, each member needs to be working from the same playbook. That's why we compiled this glossary of the most important sales terms, each clearly defined. Not only does it provide a handy reference, but it also puts all revenue operations professionals—sales, marketing and customer success—on the same page when it comes to critical metrics, analytics and strategy. Read on for our handy roundup.

A-G

H-N

O-R

S (click term below to jump to entry)

Sales activity data
Sales automation
Sales coaching
Sales cycle
Sales enablement
Sales forecast
Sales forecast accuracy
Sales kickoff (SKO)
Sales linearity
Sales metrics
Sales operations
Sales opportunity management
Sales pipeline
Sales pipeline inspection
Sales process
Sales productivity
Sandbagging

T-Z

Sales Activity Data

Sales activity data refers to every action your sales and marketing team is making to close an opportunity, as well as any engagement by prospects within the opportunity.

What is sales activity data?

Sales activity data encompasses:

  • Emails and phone calls from reps to prospects
  • Meetings and events attended by prospects
  • Marketing materials sent and opened
  • Contracts signed.

Sales activity data is some of the most important information in the sales process.

Why is sales activity data important for sales?

ales teams must track any engagement or activity with a lead, because this information provides insight into the efforts needed for a lead to convert, and allows the entire sales team to formulate more accurate forecasts. Such tracking also provides both marketing and sales with visibility into how sales reps are following up with leads to ensure marketing is supporting and maximizing the potential of every opportunity.

That said, it can be extremely difficult to track and analyze sales activity data for several key reasons. he most challenging problem revenue teams face is getting their sales team to consistently and accurately log all their activities into the CRM. For reps,there is no incentive or compensation for manually logging all their deal activity. ItIt is time consuming and takes reps away from actively selling. However, this inconsistent data entry leads to inaccurate, unreliable sales activity data—which ultimately disconnects the company’s marketing and sales alignment.

That’s why it can be critically helpful to automate sales data capture so so sales teams don’t have to spend their time logging numbers and the resulting information is consistent, error free, and visible to everyone.

What are some uses for sales activity data?

Key uses for sales activity data include:

  • Measuring marketing attribution
  • Executing marketing campaigns that target the right prospects
  • Accelerating deals in the pipeline
  • Setting the right targets to make the sales number
  • Aligning marketing with sales on targets and follow-through
  • Hitting pipeline generation targets
  • Improving the quality of the marketing database

Why is sales activity data important for revenue operations?

When the entire revenue operations team can see sales activity for every opportunity, they can easily identify which prospects have become disengaged. With these insights, marketing can deploy a strategic campaign or field event to catch this prospect’s attention and re-engage them. In addition, if RevOps sees that a large opportunity in the commit stage has become disengaged, that could mean a huge loss in projected revenue for the quarter. Customer success might look at their opportunities for upsell and cross-sell to help close the gap.

For more information, read Sales Activity Data is Critical Right Now: Here’s Why.

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Sales Automation

In recent years, sales automation and artificial intelligence have not only helped companies efficiently close more deals, but also ensured the process is uniform and seamless.

By reducing tedious and error-prone manual labor such as data input and updating opportunities, sales automation and AI allows sales reps and those involved in the revenue cycle to focus on what matters most: selling.

What is sales automation?

Sales automation refers to the application of digital tools to parts of the sales process that typically take reps away from actually selling. Rather than replacing sales reps, sales automation removes the laborious chore of manual data input, allowing reps to spend more time interacting with prospects and buyers. Sales automation can increase the human touch within a sales cycle, ultimately helping reps close more deals.

What is sales automation software?

Sales automation software assists or automates parts of the sales process, such as:

  • Sending out emails to prospects (Salesloft, Outreach)
  • Gauging sales calls to identify the clients’ most relevant pain points and suggest next steps (Gong.io)
  • Helping sales reps forecast accurately based on historical data

How can sales automation help the entire revenue operations team?

When revenue operations teams can automate tasks like inputting sales activity data into the CRM or rolling up the forecast, they can achieve major time savings. When sales activity data is automatically captured, the entire revenue operations organization gains a window into how sales is working deals and how prospects are engaging. If a deal has stalled, marketing can see that and drop a well-timed campaign or field event to help reawaken that prospect.

For more information, read The 5 Stages of Sales Forecast Maturity.

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Sales Coaching

You wouldn’t expect to win a soccer match, tennis game or golf tournament without a supportive coach. As in sports, sales coaching is a critical component of a successful sales strategy.

What is sales coaching?

Sales coaching is the practice of sales managers working with their reps to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

Why is sales coaching important?

Studies have shown that when sales managers actively coach their reps, the reps attain their quota at a higher rate. A study from CSO Insights revealed that when coaching skills exceeded expectations, 94.8% of reps met their quota. When coaching skills were not up to snuff, the attainment level only hit 84.5%.

Sales coaching tips

Most one-on-ones between a sales manager and a sales rep don’t resemble coaching at all. Instead, it’s more like an interrogation, as managers go through the list of opportunities a rep has and asks for updates on each one.

This conversation typically spirals into a rehashing of what has already happened and less a discussion about what should happen. Rather than coaching, it’s all about reporting the news. Here are some tips on how to avoid this:

  • Focus on the deals that matter. Instead of going through every single deal, just go through the deals that matter most. These can be deals that are either showing risk or were not originally seen as potential opportunities. Focus your time and coaching on those.
  • Make it a regular occurrence. Dedicating a weekly occurrence to coaching sessions and sticking to those times ensure the meetings will be meaningful and regular.
  • Be data-driven. Come to the discussion table with data to back up and lead your discussions. Data gives you an opportunity to provide coaching moments objectively.

Sales coaching questions

Not all coaching sessions have to be around deals and opportunities. They can also be around mentoring and career growth. Some questions to ask:

  • Where would you like to be in a year? Two years? Five years?
  • What part of sales do you enjoy the most and why?
  • What part of sales do you enjoy the least and why?
  • What areas of sales do you want to work on the most?
  • How do you think we can improve as a sales team?
  • What are your top three sales goals for this week?
  • What can I help with?

For more information, read 6 Reasons You're Failing Your Rep as a Coach.

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Sales Cycle

The sales cycle impacts every aspect of your sales strategy.

What is a sales cycle?

A sales cycle is the process a company goes through when selling to a new customer. This process can look different depending on the business or product, but it is important to have a framework in place that defines each stage of the cycle. Further, it is important to keep track of the length of this process, as the timing provides insights into the efficiency of a business’s sales operations and how they compare to industry standards.

What are the sales cycle stages?

The stages of the sales cycle can vary, but generally they take the following format:

  1. Prospecting. This is the work necessary to identify potential future customers.
  2. Make contact. Once you’ve identified prospects, it’s time to reach out, perhaps with a cold call, email, or LinkedIn message, to make an appointment with each prospect.
  3. Nurture. Maybe the contact isn’t ready to buy yet. This is where marketing drip campaigns with relevant and interesting content can continue to keep your prospect educated and engaged.
  4. Qualification. Once you’ve secured the meeting with your prospect, it’s important to make sure they are a good fit and are ready and able to buy.
  5. Make your pitch. This is a critical moment in every sales cycle. Research and preparation beforehand ensures your presentation packs the most impact and directly addresses the prospects’ pain points.
  6. Handle objections. Here you can address any concerns from your prospect, perhaps provide customer referrals, and really understand what is important to them and their business.
  7. Make the close. Now that you’ve qualified the prospect, nailed the pitch, and deftly handled all objections, it’s time to ask for the sale.

Why is it important to track sales cycles for revenue operations?

By defining and tracking your sales cycles, you can measure how well your revenue operations team executes on deals. Are sales cycles increasing because you’re going after larger and more complex deals, or because sales execution is slipping? Can the revenue operations team assist in shortening those sales cycles with, for example, a well-timed marketing campaign or field events?

For more information, read 15 Sales Metrics Every Revenue Leader Should Track.

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Sales Enablement

The ultimate goal of sales enablement is to give the sales team everything they need for success throughout the entire buyer’s journey.

What is sales enablement?

Sales enablement is the practice of empowering the sales organization through content, tools, and information to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Enabling sales can mean providing a variety of tools and tactics, including:

  • Content
  • Best practices
  • Technology and tools
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Training
  • Coaching

Why is sales enablement important?

Sales enablement gives the sales team the tools to achieve better sales results. The idea around sales enablement is: If you arm your sales team with the right resources, knowledge, and tactics, they will be able to efficiently and effectively execute the playbook that has been created for them.

What are sales enablement strategies?

Sales enablement strategies ultimately depend on the buyer’s journey, and who your buyer is. What kind of content does your buyer like to consume and where do they consume it?

  • Marketing matters. Arming your sales team with the most up to date and relevant marketing content gives them tangible, educational, and engaging stories and data to share with customers. Content should be mapped to every stage in the buyer’s journey or sales funnel.
  • Make everything accessible. If you create it, will they come? Not necessarily. Ensuring you have a visible portal or centralized document where sales teams can go to find what they need is key. For sales, time is money — and reps don’t want to spend that time searching for materials.
  • Collaborate and ask for feedback. You can do all the market research and create all the tools you think your sales counterparts need, but at the end of the day, if those tools and content don’t do the job out in the field, you need to head back to the drawing board. Have open and honest conversations about what’s working and what’s not — then iterate.

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Sales Forecast

Sales forecasting. A forecast call is the thing that could absolutely make or break you. It’s the difference between a promotion and a call from your boss that you probably do not want to answer. It can be your best friend or your absolute worst enemy.

What is a sales forecast?

A sales forecast aims to predict the outcome of your future sales. It builds on historical data and key metrics to give you a picture of where your business is headed.

Why is a sales forecast important?

Having accurate forecasts is crucial because it enables companies to make informed business decisions, as well as to create long- and short-term goals for the company. A lot of companies rely on data from both the past and present to give them an accurate forecast.

Sales forecasts allow companies to:

  • Predict achievable sales revenue;
  • Efficiently allocate resources;
  • Plan for long- and short-term growth.

For more information, read The Complete Guide to Sales Forecasting.

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Sales Forecast Accuracy

The sales forecast — calling the number you think you will land in business for the month or quarter — remains essential to revenue planning and corporate growth, but without sales forecast accuracy, that growth may be at risk. any forecast roll-up processes are based on sales reps’ gut feelings, which can be wildly wrong.

With the rise of sales automation and machine learning, sales leadership has turned towards using the best tools to accurately predict the most important part of any business: revenue.

What is sales forecast accuracy?

Sales forecast accuracy is how close your expected revenue goals compares to the actual revenue that comes in. Many organizations have full teams who spend most of their time manually harvesting sales rep data to predict a sales number on a weekly basis. For some, this can be pretty accurate, but exceedingly laborious. For others, calling a number is a shot in the dark.

Why are accurate forecasts important?

Revenue is core to the future of your business. If revenue exceeds goals planned, you can invest in growing your company sooner than you had planned. If you plan based on a forecast, and that forecast proves incorrect, company growth could stumble, or worse—you may have grown faster than your revenue can support. If your forecast falls too short, that’s growth you held off pursuing, and possibly profits you lost out on, due to miscast predictions.

An accurate quarterly forecast can help you pivot . For example, if you have accurate insight into which parts of your business are thriving and which are struggling, you can change your approach during the quarter, rather than missing your forecast number and learn what you might have changed only in hindsight.

Understanding who needs help can also increase support for sales reps. For example, if reps are underperforming, leadership can use the forecast to create plans to help territories or reps that risk missing their quotas.

How do you measure your sales forecast accuracy?

Measuring sales forecast accuracy typically involves comparing actual versus expected sales. There are a variety of ways to calculate and dissect forecasting accuracy, from simple calculations to complex Excel spreadsheets—or AI-powered predictive software like Clari.

How do you improve your forecast accuracy?

The main thing that prevents sales organizations from making an accurate forecast is a lack of standardization when it comes to opportunities. What one sales rep may qualify as a committed deal may not be the same for another.

Without sales or forecasting automation tools, your next best bet for creating an accurate sales forecast is a solid list of guidelines for what different stages in an opportunity means and ensuring your reps have one source of truth they can work from.

Why does sales forecast accuracy matter for revenue operations?

Despite sales in the same, sales forecast accuracy isn’t just about sales teams. The entire revenue operations team is involved . Marketing teams and SDRs build pipeline for current and future quarters to ensure proper coverage, and customer success drives revenue to meet the forecast through retention, upsells, and cross sells.

For more information, read Best Practices for Improving Sales Forecasting Accuracy.

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Sales Kickoff (SKO)

The sales kickoff (SKO) is the sales team’s annual opportunity to come together, get motivated, and have fun.

What is a sales kickoff?

A sales kickoff is an annual meeting for the entire sales team. It is usually held in the first month of the new fiscal year. The SKO’s main objectives are motivating reps, managers and leaders; laying out your strategy; and celebrating last year's wins.

What makes a great sales kickoff?

Rather than forcing your sales team to listen to a speaker for hours, make your SKO fun, interactive, and educational.

For example, consider bringing a theme into the mix. You can be creative—it could be superheroes, food, or pets. Ask your team members to wear something representing the theme on the first day of the event. It’s a way to bring everyone together, spark conversation, and maybe elicit some laughs.

Sample sales kickoff agenda

Every salesperson wants to achieve success. They want to hear what the top performers did so they can achieve the same results. At the SKO,, introduce new processes and hold panel discussions for your sales team to learn more. Include training sessions to inspire your team and encourage them to interact with each other. Here is what an SKO agenda looks like:

Day 1:

  1. Welcome/breakfast
  2. Year in review
  3. New content review
  4. Lunch
  5. Marketing update
  6. Live call
  7. Skit/contest/other fun networking opportunity
  8. Competitive review
  9. Group dinner

Day 2:

  1. Quarterly business reviews (QBRs)

Why is the sales kickoff is important for revenue operations?

Ideally, the sales kickoff includes the entire revenue operations team: sales, marketing, and customer success. Everyone who touches revenue should be aligned, and this is the best forum in which to do so. In addition, both marketing and customer success should get designated sessions where they share their plans for driving predictable revenue in order to get buy-in, feedback, and alignment.

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Sales Linearity

Almost every sales team sees the same pattern at the end of the quarter: a series of deals closing in the final days as reps scramble to make their numbers. How can this be prevented? Sales linearity can help.

What is sales linearity?

Sales linearity is when deals close in a predictable pattern on a week-to-week and month-to-month basis throughout the quarter. Instead of deals closing in bulk at the end of the quarter, sales linearity ensures opportunities are nurtured in a balanced way so that business closes regularly.

Imagine that it’s week eight of the quarter and your team has already closed 60% of its quota, with a healthy pipeline to wrap up the remaining 40%. That’s good sales linearity.

Why is sales linearity important?

A linear sales process is crucial for improving sales predictability, which allows companies to have firmer control of their fiscal health. A linear sales cycle enables your company to:

  • Easily predict when onboarding resources will be needed to support new customers
  • Build better cash flow, taking the pressure off of finance and operations to do more with less
  • Drive better margins, preventing the need to discount at the end of the quarter.
  • Create a predictable revenue stream that fuels growth and other investment decisions throughout the organization.

How do you encourage sales linearity?

Sales leaders can help encourage sales linearity with a few strategies:

  • Extend previous quarter promotions. Offer a 30-day extension on any promotions offered in the previous quarter and let customers know prices will rise again after that extension period. Make it clear that your team is not willing to extend the promotion..
  • Incentivize early deals. Offer premium packages for customers who close earlier in the quarter so late-stage pipeline opportunities won’t continue to lag. Structure special packages that offer customers additional goodies, like access to more product capabilities or services, if they sign within a set timeframe, such as the first month of the quarter.
  • Compensate reps accordingly. Build in commission multipliers based on how quickly deals can be closed, so that your sales team will proactively push deals through. Offering a bonus for deals that close within a set block of time that decreases over time will encourage reps to close earlier. For example, offer an extra 5% for deals that close within a month or 3% for deals that close within two months of the quarter’s start.
  • Focus on three close dates, not one. Focus on monthly, rather than quarterly, close rates so your sales team can improve their ability to forecast where they’re going to land at the end of the quarter, ultimately generating a more predictable revenue stream.
  • Get the entire revenue operations team on board. When marketing and customer success are all driving towards sales linearity, you’re more likely to make it happen. Marketing can identify which opportunities need some love and provide coverage in the form of campaigns and offers, while customer success can generate revenue through retention and upsells.

For more information, read How to Drive Sales Linearity — and Why It’s Critical for Predictable Revenue.

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Sales Metrics

Sales metrics are goals that you compile to review at the end of your quarter.

What are sales metrics?

Sales metrics are essentially key performance indicators for your sales organization. These KPIs are implemented to track how effective your sales reps’ efforts are. Sales leaders use these metrics to evaluate a team's performance for the quarter.

What are some key sales metrics?

Some of the most important sales metrics include:

  • Conversion rate. This is the rate at which prospective customers move from one stage to another in the sales process. A few standard conversion rates are:
  • Lead-to-MQL (marketing qualified lead), which is how quickly a potential lead becomes a marketing qualified lead, which is a lead that is deemed more likely to become a customer based on data such as web history and engagement.
  • Visitor-to-lead, which is the percentage of visitors to your company’s website who become real leads.
  • MQL-to-SQL is the percentage of marketing qualified leads that become sales qualified leads— i.e., leads that the sales team has inspected and deemed more likely to convert.
  • Opportunity-to-customer is the percentage of opportunities that end up closed won, with potential clients becoming customers.
  • Sales cycle length. This ishe amount of time from your first interaction with a prospect to closing the deal, averaged across all won deals. This metric helps introduce some predictability into your sales forecasting, so you can plan for future quarters.
  • Activity ratios. These include the number of phone calls, emails, marketing campaigns, and more, that successfully engage with potential customers. These factor in:
  • Dials to connected calls
  • Connected calls to scheduled eventsScheduled events to SQLs

Why is it important to track sales metrics?

Sales metrics are important for sales leaders trying to track and measure what is driving success at the individual and team levels.

Not all key performance indicators are the same, though, so making sure you focus on the most effective sales activities is key. By measuring the right sales KPIs, like the ones listed above, you can help streamline your sales process and ensure your team is prioritizing the right opportunities.

For more information, read 15 Sales Metrics Every Revenue Leader Should Track.

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Sales Operations

Sales operations make selling a systematic process, bringing a strategic approach to the sales organization.

What is sales operations?

Sales operations are processes that organizations put in place to drive efficiency in frontline sales teams. Sales operations teams are responsible for implementing specific training — via tools or engagement techniques — to help sales reps focus on selling and achieve better results.

What does sales operations do?

The main goal of sales operations is to boost the performance of the sales team. To achieve that, sales ops needs to create a system that would make selling much more efficient. Here’s a quick guideline:

  • Implement training and development programs at each level of your sales team
  • Optimize sales tool in your tech stack or implement new tools to help sales teams with efficiency (e.g., CRM, automation, data analytics, contract management, forms and templates, client engagement and outreach)
  • Adopt key sales metrics
  • Implement appropriate sales methodologies
  • What are sales operations best practices?
  • Some sales ops best practices include:
  • Fine-tuning any sales processes based on a good or bad lead
  • Managing the health of a pipeline through effective processes, procedures, and tools

For more information, read The Rise of Revenue Operations (Infographic).

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Sales Opportunity Management

Sales opportunity management maximizes efficiency by keeping reps focused on high-priority accounts and ensuring they don’t waste time on deals that are unlikely to close.

What is sales opportunity management?

Sales opportunity management is the process of managing your pipeline and deals so you can better predict how your company is going to perform over the next quarter or year. This enables you to more accurately forecast your revenue, and allows sales to prioritize the accounts that your company needs in order to hit their sales forecast.

Why is sales opportunity management important?

It’s important to have a process for opportunity management in place so your team is better able to predict their revenue for the upcoming month, quarter, and year. An accurate revenue forecast allows you to do things like plan the tech budget and make hiring decisions to optimize the company’s overall operations.

Best practices for sales opportunity management

The best practices for sales opportunity management include:

  • Doing your research on the opportunity. Know what your prospect’s pain points are and how your product or service can fill the void or accelerate growth.
  • Prioritizing your opportunities. This is critical to ensure you focus your efforts on the strongest deals.
  • Maintaining strong relationships with prospects. Good relationships close deals.
  • Keeping your pipeline data up to date. This way you’ll be able to spot at-risk opportunities early so you can jump in and save them, while also pushing strong deals to close.
  • Keeping your sales cycles short. This means your opportunities are moving through the sales stages quickly and regularly, so you can count on deals closing on time in predictable cycles.

Why is opportunity management important for revenue operations?

When sales reps and managers properly manage their opportunities, inspecting them to clearly understand the health of the deal, they can call their number confidently and take action when necessary. If a rep sees that an opportunity needs help, they can turn to the rest of the revenue operations team for support. Marketing can launch a campaign to engage with that prospect or other sales leaders can lend a hand by reaching out and getting executive alignment.

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Sales Pipeline

The sales pipeline refers to the number of current sales, in all stages, handled by members of the sales team.

What is a sales pipeline?

A sales pipeline is a visual and systematic approach to selling a product or service. It allows salespeople to understand where their money, deals, and other sales efforts are at all times.

Why have a sales pipeline?

Having a sales pipeline helps you see where multiple deals stand, which makes it easier to manage them and understand which steps you need to take to close more deals.

How to build a sales pipeline

A healthy sales pipeline starts with prospecting. When you prospect and do your outreach, you increase the number of potential pipeline fillers.

You do that by:

  • Identifying your ideal customer profile and target markets
  • Segmenting these customer profiles and target markets into accounts
  • Finding contacts and researching their needs before outreach Organizing prospective customers and working your pipeline to close them

How to manage a sales pipeline

How you manage your sales pipeline can impact how you close deals.

A few things to keep in mind for successful pipeline management:

  • Remember to follow up with your prospects
  • Focus on the best and biggest deals
  • Drop any dead deals and or leads
  • Monitor your metrics and keep track of deal activity
  • Update your pipeline regularlyUse a CRM to manage your sales

Why pipeline matters for revenue operations teams

Creating and managing your pipeline is core to the revenue operations organization’s goal of building predictable revenue. If the entire team is too focused on hitting their current quarter number and ignoring their future quarter pipeline, there will be a mad scramble to build pipeline once the next quarter begins.

Mature revenue operations organizations look to future quarters, identifying how much pipeline they need to cover their quota in the next quarter and the quarter after that. The entire revenue team should agree on a coverage multiple that makes sense based on their historic conversion rates and sales process.

For more information, read How to Build Sales Pipeline for Predictable Revenue.

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Sales Pipeline Inspection

Sales pipeline inspection is one way companies assess their businesses. Unfortunately, not every company goes about it the right way.

What is sales pipeline inspection?

Pipeline inspection refers to the process of reviewing opportunity information deal by deal to verify that the information is reliable and up to date. This ensures that all the information in the pipeline on each deal—including deal size, close date, and probability to close—is accurate for the manager's overall sales forecast.

Why is sales pipeline inspection important?

Pipeline management is a primary factor in sales success. Your sales pipeline is the key to evaluating, managing, and ultimately improving your sales process so you can close more deals. The sales pipeline is all about the top-of-the-funnel opportunities, not the opportunities that are about to close this month.

4 steps to sales pipeline inspection

Pipeline inspection can be done in many different formats. There are four steps to ensuring your pipeline inspection works:

  1. What changed in this deal? Did the close date get pushed out? Is there a change in the closing revenue? You can’t determine the answers to these questions just by meeting with your reps. You need a simple yet holistic way to see your pipeline in real time.
  2. How likely is this deal to close? There are so many indicators that can determine the likelihood of a deal closing, such as emails and calendar invites. You need to have this information to produce an accurate assessment of your pipeline.
  3. How much activity do we have on this deal? Activity is key when understanding your business. Reps will say one thing about their activity on an account, but by the end of the quarter, what they said might be outdated or unrealistic. You can’t just trust your gut, either. You need a tool that can analyze actual activity on deals, without human emotion or error.
  4. Is this deal following our sales process? It’s your job to enable your reps to practice your sales methodology. By doing this, you can rest assured that your reps will close business more quickly and your business is running smoothly.

Why pipeline inspection matters for revenue operations

Pipeline is one of the most important sales forecasting metrics for the revenue operations team. It determines how much coverage you have to hit your quota for current and future quarters. This is core to a revenue operations team.

Marketing, sales, and customer success must all work together to ensure predictable revenue every quarter. The role of marketing is to create a pipeline of opportunities through campaigns and programs. Sales must nurture and inspect that pipeline to ensure it’s qualified enough to pursue.

If sales team members inspect the pipeline and find that leads are not worth their time, they must communicate back to marketing why that is so sales and marketing can work together to find a solution.

For more information, read How to Increase Sales Effectiveness with the 4-Point Deal Inspection.

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Sales Process

The sales process can differ based on the industry that you are in, but all sales processes typically have the same basic framework.

What is a sales process?

A sales process delineates the steps that are taken for a product or service to be sold. The sales process can extend from initial outreach and pipeline to the moment contracts are signed. What are the standard steps in a sales process?

The steps of a typical sales process are:

  1. Research. Familiarize yourself with what you are selling and to whom.
  2. Prospecting. Research the correct person to sell this product to.
  3. Discovery. Find out what the customer is looking for from the product.
  4. Presentation. This is the salesperson’s opportunity to showcase the best features of the product to the customer.
  5. Negotiation/objection handling. Hearing why the prospect may not be interested in the product offers opportunities to counter with informed information, as well as negotiate a contract that works for both parties.Closing. Prospective clients have decided that your product is the best option for them and are ready to sign.
  6. Repeat. The client has become a customer and maintains a good relationship with you, allowing you to sell them more in the future.

How do you create a sales process?

To define a sales process that works for your product or service, you need to start with a suitable template and build from there. In other words, you need to sell something first, and then establish processes based on that sale. This can include listing what worked and what didn't.

Then, working from the list of standard steps mentioned above, you would establish processes for:

  • Gauging customer interest
  • Qualifying prospective customers
  • Getting them to agree to learn about your product
  • Building relationships with your customers
  • Closing the deal
  • Repeating with the next customer

What is the MEDDIC sales process?

The MEDDIC sales process is a B2B sales process that was developed in the 1990s. The acronym stands for:

Metrics

Economic buyer

Decision criteria

Decision process

Identify pain

Champion

What is the difference between a sales process and an inbound sales strategy?

A sales process is typically structured to replicate an outbound sales process—it is focused on the seller’s journey and what they have to go through for closing a deal. An inbound sales strategy refers to the buyer’s experience when they are the ones reaching out and seeking specific information on the product being sold.

Why is the sales process important for revenue operations?

The sales process is the foundation for predictable revenue for a revenue operations organization. It determines how marketing attracts and engages with prospects, at which point those leads get captured and handed off to the sales development rep (SDR) or sales team, then how sales manages to close and which marketing tactics can be used throughout to accelerate the process. A clearly defined sales process is critical for revenue operations success.

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Sales Productivity

Do you know how efficient your sales teams are, and where they could improve? Sales productivity can help answer those questions.

What is sales productivity?

Sales productivity measures how effective salespeople are at closing business and attaining quota. At its core, sales productivity measures how much time salespeople spend selling their product. Sales productivity also helps sales leaders evaluate the efficacy of enablement programs, manager coaching, continued education, and overall sales team performance.

Sales productivity can often drop when salespeople are busy with tasks that do not directly tie to working and closing deals. Manually entering information into a CRM system can cost salespeople hours of their week—and that's time not spent on calls, BASHOs, and so on.

How do you measure sales productivity?

Sales productivity can be measured in a variety of ways. Typically it requires your sales leadership or sales operations team to coordinate a survey and analyze the results of that survey.

Surveys typically ask reps how much time they spend on the following:

  • Manually entering data
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Creating proposals
  • Writing emails
  • Creating tasks in CRM
  • Scheduling alerts
  • Lead status progression
  • Contact life-cycle progression
  • Opportunity life-cycle progression
  • Internal meetings
  • Meetings with prospects
  • Meetings with customers
  • Creating proposals
  • Working on contracts
  • Security reviews

From there, sales can sort tasks into different categories and delineate which ones salespeople must complete and which are avoidable or can be automated.

How do you increase sales productivity for your sales reps?

Automating processes where possible gives sales professional time back in their day to focus on what they get paid to do: sell.

New tools in the marketplace are helping reps become more efficient, effective and productive in their day-to-day duties. One big area is automating tedious, manual processes like data entry into CRM.

How can a revenue operations platform increase sales productivity?

By incorporating AI and machine learning into their daily workflows, reps will have clear visibility into real opportunities, helping them see where they should be spending their time and offering them actionable insights to drive deals forward and, ultimately, close more business.

A revenue operations platform that can show whether a deal is worth pursuing or whether it’s a dud shows reps where they should spend their time. When sales activity data is automatically captured and visible to the entire revenue operations team, marketing can help accelerate that deal with campaigns, sales development reps (SDRs) have insight into how reps are managing those opportunities, and sales can easily identify when to continue pursuit or cut bait and spend that time elsewhere.

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Sandbagging

Sure, you want to look good for your bosses, but at what cost? The practice of sandbagging can, for the present, make a rep seem like a star, but ultimately poses risk to the larger revenue operation.

What is a sandbagger in sales?

In sales, a sandbagger is someone who intentionally tempers expectations at an individual and organizational level, only to exceed these lower expectations. Doing so can look like the rep has exceeded expectations, but in reality, sandbagging is almost a sort of sabotage. The practice decreases efficiency and effectiveness, forcing deals to take longer. They should have closed earlier, but were needlessly pushed out in order for the rep to make themselves or their business seem like they have exceeded expectations.

How can sandbagging affect your sales forecast accuracy?

Sandbaggers can make it almost impossible to produce an accurate forecast. A deal may seem like it’s trending in a healthy direction and a sales manager will make the decision to include that deal in an in-quarter forecast, only for a sandbagger, who has already hit their quarterly quota, to push the deal out of quarter simply to exceed their expectations for the next quarter.

If your forecast isn’t accurate, in part due to sandbaggers not committing to their numbers, it can throw the entire revenue operations team off track.

How do you identify sandbaggers using data?

Many forecasting tools use data visualizations to help identify which sales representatives set their initial number low, only to finish with a number that is much higher than the original forecast. In these cases, it is easy to see who is tracking well along their original projection, and who is miles away from their initial goal.

What can you do about sandbaggers?

Using data visualization and forecasting tools that track the initial forecast numbers made by sales representatives and managers in relation to end-of-quarter numbers can help deter sandbaggers who had previously hid behind messy CRM data and untrackable forecasting processes. By having easy accessibility to data that can identify a potential sandbagger, you maximize your opportunities for effective coaching.

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Rev Up Your Forecast with AI

The ugly truth is that most forecasts fail. But it doesn't have to be that way. Learn how leading B2B companies are leveraging AI to predict business outcomes more accurately.

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