Insight Selling: the Critical Role of Sales Operations

 

Posted By Qvidian | Apr 29, 2014

 

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a great sales forum in Chicago hosted by one of our partners, the Alexander Group (AGI). The event centered on the importance of insight led selling with an emphasis on the role the sales operations functions plays to support this shift in behavior.

Insight led sellingThere were some “illuminating*” keynote presentations from Andersen Corporation, LinkedIn and Rockwell Automation in addition to many other briefings and discussions.

Conventional thinking behind insight selling focuses on the customer and adding value in the sales process by presenting commercial insights that get them to think differently about issues and outcomes. However, several of the presentations also emphasized the importance of internal insight and the ability to gather, analyze and interpret the wealth of data. This can provide greater precision around aligning solutions with target markets and clients.

A few patterns emerged during the event:

  • The Sales Operations function is still in a relative infancy stage. Based on a show of hands in one of the keynote sessions, the majority of represented companies only established the role in the last 5 years; the investment is proving to be very worthwhile.
  • There’s a very broad definition of scope and responsibilities (including sales process, tools, metrics, compensation, forecasting, territory alignment and training). In some cases there are unresolved overlaps with other functions such as business operations, sales enablement teams and marketing groups.
  • It’s also evident that the transition to value-based, insight led sales is an intra- and inter- team effort. In particular Sales and Marketing alignment was called out as critical, but being in sync with other functions like HR (for onboarding, learning and development) and Finance come into play.

The big take-away on the last point is: this is easy to say, but much harder to achieve due to the sheer complexity of buyer and seller-side interactions and rate of change.

When you net it out, the paradigm shift to insight selling means changing deep-rooted selling behaviors.

This is challenging to initiate and even harder to reinforce and sustain. This is where the combination of AGI’s sales transformation consulting coupled with Qvidian’s dynamic Sales Playbooks framework can help to integrate process, training, content and tools to close the gap between strategy and execution.

Were you at the event? What were your key takeaways?

*Side note: A passer-by asked AGI for some collateral to provide to a friend who was a lighting engineer. He saw the signage in the lobby and thought we were at a conference discussing a product called Insight LEDs!