“War is ninety percent information” — Napoleon Bonaparte.

Last year we helped a well-known technology company develop a customer value proposition and messaging canvas to support their go-to-market efforts into a lucrative market niche they had researched and invested material amounts of time and resources.

The company needed to ensure that sales and marketing teams focused exclusively on the lucrative market niche, and not attempt to develop or pursue opportunities outside of this niche. Simple, right?

Eight months later, they had achieved about 60% of their growth goals, and were questioning how well they were executing, and if perhaps they had misjudged the market opportunity. Our firm was asked to help them diagnose, prioritize and mobilize improvements to get their new product growth goals back on track.

Here is a summary of three critical points we diagnosed:

  1. Product management had not tightly integrated the critical attributes of the lucrative market niche into their CRM account records. As a result, marketing efforts were less targeted than had been planned. As well, the product team could not readily determine if the pursued account was actually in the target market niche.
  2. The win ratio (dollars based) was just under 20%, versus the 40% they had expected. This product was being sold primarily to existing customers and key competitor accounts.
  3. The new product required pre-sales and engineering teams to develop and deploy the solution. These teams were complaining that they were pursuing opportunities that had a low-likelihood of purchasing the new product.

The primary culprit of this situation was that Sales Operations had not been engaged appropriately to support the go-to-market execution of the new product .

If they had engaged sales operations appropriately, The sales operations team would have ensured the following:

  • The critical attributes of the target market would have been included in the CRM account records. This data would have helped marketing and sales teams target their efforts, and provide visibility to how well they were executing.
  • A lower than expected win ratio can be an early warning sign of poor go-to-market execution. Product management had not collaborated with sales operations before the product launch to understand what metrics and KPIs were needed to gauge go-to-market execution.
  • The pre-sales and engineering teams are embedded in the opportunity qualification process, which the sales operations team was responsible for communicating and refining along with the sale leaders. If sales operations would have been involved, the pre-sales and engineering teams could have formally helped disqualify sales pursuits that were not in the target market.

It is not uncommon for product management and marketing teams to miss the opportunity to involve sales operations early in the new product go-to-market process.

Over the years the role of sales operations has undoubtedly changed. But to think of sales operations as a data quality steward, or sales reporting gurus, for product management teams is a mistake. There is a lot of value to be gained by putting sales operations at the center of helping manage go-to-market execution, and the tools and technology required for flawless execution.

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