Our research suggests that as companies shift to an agile sales operating model, they’ll encounter a number of key challenges.
Finding a model that aligns with the strategy
To align with the strategy, companies need to move away from a siloed structure and instead create an integrated structure with decision-making rights at every level. This is a change that requires a cultural shift and organizational adaptation.
Companies that have successfully adapted to an agile operating model are often operationalizing the new way of working and embracing the imperative of an agile organization. They are also making the model’s design and operating practices a model for innovation and iteration rather than for command-and-control derivatives. As a result, organizations can empower teams to scale, innovate more quickly, and more effectively.
In this article, we look at the critical steps companies can take to build an agile sales organization.
Getting the right organizational structure
Companies should think about the role of the operating model as the bridge between strategy and organization design.
It is not enough to have a siloed structure with business units; the operating model should also include a strategy, with a clear mandate for decision making and roles.
For example, a global consumer company wanted to improve the way its marketing and sales teams engage with customers. The company first had a siloed structure, with the head of sales and the head of customer advocacy. That structure had created a lot of friction for its sales representatives, who spent their time competing with multiple sales reps and managing sales commitments.
To build a model that would enable its marketing and sales teams to engage with customers, the company first had to understand what it wanted them to do. It decided to move marketing and sales into an integrated operating model. It also decided to set up a dedicated cross-functional team for selling and marketing, with responsibility for coaching and managing customer experience.
To manage this transition, the company established a new chief marketing officer, who was someone the CMO could quickly fill gaps and ensure alignment to a longer-term vision.
Exploring new digital channels
Companies in B2B markets are under increasing strain. Agile, digital sales approaches, and cloud-based solutions are disrupting the way they sell and serve customers. B2B companies too are growing more complex as their customers increasingly have multiple products and solutions, and they are dealing with a proliferation of technologies.
Sales reps need to understand and address rapidly shifting sales needs, not just more products.
A new sales-organization design should be one of the keys to a more responsive and agile sales-operations function. The best organizations are designed around the same set of principles, with one important goal in mind: to provide the front line with reliable, up-to-date information about products, sales, and pricing.
Building a customer-success mind-set
The key to a change in marketing-and-sales organization design is to create a customer-success mind-set.
A new mind-set will have to be an integral part of the new sales-organization design. A customer-success mindset is needed to inform every element of the new design, from the way the organization is structured to the organizational design. It is also needed to reinforce a customer-success culture.
Here are the essential design elements that we’ve found to be common among successful agile sales organizations:
- Cross-Functional but Structured Roles. The organization structure should include the roles and the corresponding processes (for example, what are the roles of the account managers?) and structure (such as a number of roles for the CRO or the commercial lead). In addition, their correlation or engagement with other team functions should be well defined.
- Account-Manager Empowerment. These roles include the person with the responsibility for maintaining a customer-success plan, assessing the effectiveness of the plan, and coaching the CRO on how to improve the performance of the plan.
- Integrated Marketing and Sales. This organizational structure should include the roles of the marketing-and-sales group, as well as the role of the sales-office manager, who is responsible for building the customer-success organization and implementing the plan from acquisition through to maximizing customer lifetime value.
- Digital-marketing roles. Specialized groups of people with responsibility for creating the digital marketing plan and executing the marketing campaigns. The key here is to empower with digital-first tools and an integrated data pipeline.
- Technology Solutions. Enable you to seamlessly leverage proven software-as-a-service models while tailoring for customer and product fit in your industry. It’s fast becoming an empowerment and skills enhancement driver for organizations, while customers expect nothing less than instant engagement.
Conversational AI bots are an effective way of pre-qualifying leads and improving the overall sales conversion cycle by acting in the function of SDRs.
An agile sales organization starts with top-down commitment to re-structuring, defining sales execution plans, and continuously evaluating against a long-term data driven strategy.
Get in touch to see how we can deliver a targeted marketing + digital sales approach.