Sales Operations generally cover a lot of ground and can incorporate a number of activities depending upon the industry and specific organization. At its core, however, the primary goal of sales operations is to support the frontline sales team effectively respond to customer demand and fulfill the demand. And it usually takes the whole organization and in many cases the supply chain to successfully sell and fulfill customer demand profitably.
Depending upon the type of organization and how your sales and operations functions are set up the following workflows and related sub-processes can be useful to improve sales operations.
Process Orchestration for Sales Operations Excellence
Most organizations can benefit from having digital workflows for above sales operations processes. But true coordination between different internal functions (sales, finance, product, operations, customer service), and supply chain partners is only possible with digital process orchestration where handoffs between different workflows can happen easily and seamlessly. An example Quote-to-Cash process orchestration at a high level can be seen in the picture below.
Sales inquiry is the first inkling that the prospect/existing customer may be interested in your organization’s product and services. Sales inquiries can come from many sources and the key is to channel these inquiries into a consistent workflow to ensure all inquiries are addressed and appropriate action is taken in a timely manner.
An example workflow Sales Inquiry workflow is shown below. Of course, you can design the type of Sales Inquiry that makes sense for your organization, division, or team with ZFlow.
Request for Information (RFI)
Many organizations as a matter of business process (government organizations, for example) issue Requests for Information to qualified vendors. Other organizations use RFI as a way to research the marketplace and get more intelligence about potential vendors. In either case, your customer facing teams are notified.
When a prospect or existing customer issues an RFI it is more or less close to being an opportunity. Time is of essence and your sales team or appropriate customer facing stakeholders need to be alert and respond (or not) to these Requests for Information. As a result it may make sense to create a simple workflow to support development of RFI response and sending it to the prospect/existing customer as soon as possible.
Sales Opportunity is what drives large parts of the sales processes and CRM system. We can even say that it is the object around which the whole CRM industry revolves. Many CRM systems come with reasonable approach for workflow using stages and approvals.
Request for Proposal (RFP)/RFP Response
We were surprised to discover that many sales operations systems and processes miss the RFP/RFP Response workflows. When your sales team is asked to respond to an RFP it usually means that they have been selected as one of the few vendors to provide a formal proposal. If the proposal is accepted by the customer a detailed SOW may be needed and signed off before a purchase order is issued. RFP and related MoU/SOW is the preferred approach for complex deals.
Sales quote is where rubber meets the road for most companies. Companies can use Configure/Price/Quote (CPQ) systems or just any method that is practical and supports your organization’s needs to create quotes. Once the quote is created there is usually need for internal approvals and approval from customers before a sales order is issued.
New Customer Onboarding
New customer onboarding is a critically important process when a prospect is becoming a customer for the first time. For many organizations it can promote and increase customer satisfaction as well as reduce revenue risk and quote-to-revenue cycle time. An example workflow is shown below. Learn more about New Customer Onboarding.
Sales orders are usually created directly from sales quotes. The only exception is when quotes requires significant enrichment before your order fulfillment systems can accept the quote as a Sales Order.
Sub-contract Purchase Orders
If your organization works with contract manufacturers or suppliers to make/assemble/test products/services sub-contract POs need to be issued for these companies. It is a good idea to keep an eye on the status and progress using digital workflow with suppliers/contract manufacturers so that products/services can be delivered on time to end customers.
The final workflow is the fulfillment workflow. You can use this workflow to coordinate internal teams and partners (suppliers if they are directly delivering to the customers, distributors, systems integrators..) so that products and services are delivered as promised an on time. An example workflow (of a networking hardware and software setup scenario) is shown below.
Sales operations workflows and quote-to-cash process orchestration are some of the most cross-functional workflows and critically important for sales operations excellence. Digitizing Sales Operations workflows and Quote-to-Cash process orchestration are two of the best ways to improve sales performance, fulfillment, customer experience and time-to-fulfillment/provisioning/revenue.