Reducing the friction that slows enterprise sales

If there’s a lynchpin that holds sales, finance and legal departments together, it’s got to be sales operations. Although being the lynchpin sometimes means being in a pressure cooker, because the flow of information through sales ops and across the enterprise can have such a big impact on a whole range of issues, including the length of sales cycles, retention rates, revenue recognition and compliance.

Every sales ops team aims to develop workflows and processes to connect and enable interactions between and across departments. The ones that stand out engineer ways to smooth and speed those interactions. They provide a bridge between data, insight and action. And they get and share timely and meaningful information with the people that need it, when they need it.

They know the value of this information. And they know it’s hiding in plain sight. The struggle is how to get it.

It should be simple but it’s not. What did the customer contract to buy? What have they paid for? Have minimum purchase requirements been met? What do we need to know about terms, exceptions, pricing or expirations to keep and grow this customer?

The answers to these questions are often found in documents scattered around the enterprise. It’s in various content management systems, in billing and payment systems, in contracts and amendments. Sometimes it’s in paper files, Excel spreadsheets and even somebody’s laptop.

Getting it all in one place is often in and of itself a huge win. The value and impact build from there by making it easy to get to and easy to navigate. And by building it around a self-service model, freeing up sales ops to focus on exceptions rather than standard and predictable requests.

Armed with the right information and means to get it, sales operations teams can grease the wheels and reduce a lot of the friction that otherwise slow enterprise sales.

What really powers customer success

“Customer success” is the new big data or maybe the new black. That’s not to dismiss any of those things but rather to suggest it’s a hot topic that is getting attached to a lot of different things. It’s not clear where we are in the customer success hype cycle but the meaning and impact of the term is at risk of being diffused.

The Customer Success Association has a pretty good definition for an approach and a process. Job boards are full of ads for people to fill a customer success role.  Some analysts and investors suggest it’s an emerging category and there are companies vying to establish leadership positions in it.

Yet it may be useful to sort of deconstruct customer success and think about it as a driver of rather than result of outcomes. For example, the success of a customer improves the likelihood of retaining and growing them. The success of a customer improves the odds that they will make the leap from “satisfied” to “loyal.”

Which naturally prompts questions such as, what do you need to know about your customer in order to have informed conversations with them and engage them in meaningful ways about their business? To retain, grow and contribute to their success? What are the most valuable sources of information and insight about that customer?

Regular readers of this space know we think it starts with understanding the data that define complex customer relationships. That could include lots of relatively minor things and a few incredibly important things, including sell side contracts and associated documents.

One of the things we aspire to as a company is to be good listeners because it’s good business, it shows respect and because it’s essential to contributing to our customers’ success. Over the years this has paid fantastic dividends, because our customers have talked with us about their pain and unmet needs, and worked with us to evolve the solution we provide them. Stay tuned because this process will soon deliver the next version of Pramata, which will offer our customers even greater value and help them achieve even greater success.

We’re excited about the coming year and offer our best wishes for a fantastic 2015