Cattle Dog Digital

How to Engage Your Executive Team and Move the Needle for Your Salesforce Operations

by Deirdre Mahon 

August 17, 2020

When you are in the trenches every day managing ops and your Salesforce system, sometimes you need to remind yourself to pan-out and look at the bigger picture. It’s important to ask questions such as, “Do we expect to reach our stated goals this quarter based on where we are today?” or “Do we need to fine-tune the GTM approach because early indicators tell us we’re off-track?” Of course, you expect all team members to adhere to process workflows and keep the system updated. You tend to notice missteps when you run that month-end report or take a closer look at the dashboards when it’s often too late. Don’t let this be you!


Working 100% remote does have advantages, given everyone now relies on the system to essentially do the communication for you. However, an always-remote operation does present unique challenges such as when you need the management team’s attention to assess progress and keep everyone on the same page, focused on the end-of-quarter prize.


KPIs and OKRs: Metrics are Important but They Don’t Paint the Full Picture


In most cases, reports shine a bright light on the numbers which of course can’t be ignored and are ultimately what most of us care about, especially when the board meeting comes around. However, metrics alone don’t tell the full story and are only good at telling you what happened historically. They are less reliable at painting a picture of what’s happening on the ground right now, or seeing how today’s activities will impact next month and quarter. Data doesn’t lie!


Reliable metrics are necessary and you must work closely with management to keep everyone as up-to-date as possible throughout the quarter. By setting a regular cadence check-in with the full team, you keep everyone aligned, and avoid wasting time and focus on the most important activities in front of you. KPIs are very useful, but often words matter more than numbers. Clearly articulating the objectives and related tactics are as important and it must come from management and executive sponsors.


Of course, it does help if your organization’s culture is one of collaboration and blameless teaming, especially in a tumultuous climate. This can be the critical difference between success and failure.


Define Together as a Collective, Grasp the Big Picture and Don’t Leave out the Details 


Panning to visualize how the numbers compare with this time last year or even six months ago is useful to understand the shape of trend lines. For example, if the pipeline is growing but your commit and forecast have stalled, perhaps latency in deal velocity requires closer examination to better understand the causes — whether pandemic related, cash-flow or bracing for a downturn — and creatively decide the best next steps. 


It’s also important to refresh the entire team on the previously stated GTM strategy as you take a look back over the quarter, half or longer. Because tactics make up the strategy, it is critical to assess how teams spend their time each week and if adjustments need to be made. Understanding this from a ‘big picture’ standpoint as well as individual day-to-day tactics will help to complete the view and shape of the business.


A macro-level view may focus on understanding different account types that are more engaged that may be related to size, industry segment or geographic location. A detailed drill-down or micro-level view will expose more specifics around tech stack or maturity of product adoption for certain buyer types. It is important to look at opportunities through multiple lenses and realize that some aspects are not easily shared via a Gantt chart, histogram or spreadsheet. 


Separate Operational, System-level Activities from Actual Selling


Classic operational decisions such as adjustments to sales cycle stages or changes in discounting are important but tend to focus on the ‘engine.’ 


By highlighting the areas that the sales team needs help with such as, executive sponsorship on important accounts or customer success onboarding to create a smoother path to upsell, will spurn teams into action that will hopefully pay off. Make deals that align with the company culture, values and the customer will naturally benefit from this commitment and authenticity. Describing the areas that other functional teams can assist with will raise awareness across the entire org, so everyone knows what is critical to help close deals and achieve revenue targets. Of course, it depends on your org size and maturity, but in many cases, it is an all-hands-on-deck approach that works best. This may include engineering and product specialists helping to secure a deal.


In the table below, examples of how you would separate internal focus areas from external business imperatives will paint a clearer picture. This helps determine where to apply resources and what to emphasize during all-hands meetings and touch-base cadences. The more pointed you make requests, the easier to draw a direct line, showing how a particular area will move the needle.


System-Level Operations + Data Intelligence
Sales Business Process + Where to Invest

Creative discounts for existing customers

Sales training on new pricing

Multi-year deal & approvals process

New pitch deck practice & role-playing

Historical forecast trending by segment

Competitive drill-down & objection handling

Pipeline growth & deal velocity insights

Sharing product roadmap & process


Better Together: When Management Gets Engaged, Everyone Wins.


KPIs and OKRs are intended to stretch us but also empower us to work towards shared goals. Although sales, by nature, are competitive, when teams work together everyone wins, including the customer. 


During stressful times, we want to achieve (or exceed) our goals but it is also important to allow for some slack and be realistic about what’s possible. If a deal slips by a month or quarter, it is not necessarily bad if the buyer is engaged and creatively working to pull it through. 


When individual contributors see management wholly engaged, helping drive alongside them, it increases employee satisfaction and drives retention. That alone is a milestone worth celebrating. Especially when we’re all in a survival mode of sorts. 


Stay in close contact, look at the big picture, details, and key metrics with an open, healthy debate on how to adjust mid-course if early indicators tell you.


Management doesn’t like surprises, especially when it’s too late to make adjustments. Ultimately, individual contributors want to win. It takes time to figure out the open, healthy and authentic dialogue but it’s one of the most important things you can do right now in our changing market conditions.


We would love to hear any feedback and more ideas on how to align with management plus teams across different functional groups. If you want to learn how Cattle Dog Digital has helped customers work better together, do get in touch as we’d love to share.