In a recent SalesGlobe survey, 70 percent of companies had a deal desk in their sales organization, but nearly 30 percent of respondents hadn’t even heard of a deal desk.
But even among companies that use deal desks there is a lot of variability on how they structure their deal desks. So, it’s important to take a look at the 10 steps you can take to optimize your deal desks for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
- Define the Role
- Know Who Does What
- Understand the Buyer Journey
- Establish a Process
- Optimize Approval Workflow
- Align Strategy
- Define Success
- Establish KPIs
- Prepare to Scale Infrastructure
- Always Communicate
But first, let’s look at what a deal desk is, and why they’re so important.
What is a Deal Desk?
Complex, large deals with long sales cycles can be a nightmare to manage. The contracts are often non-standard and you may need sign-off from several teams and stakeholders. This makes it easy for mistakes to slip in.
A deal desk gathers all important stakeholders and information in one place to ensure high-value, complex deals get signed.
Why Deal Desks
Most sales organizations manage their deals ad hoc, through email listservs, informal meetings, or manual document creation. This lacks visibility, can be slow and is prone to errors.
Deal desks create efficiency, speed, and greater visibility across go-to-market teams.
They also make good money sense as well because they allow you to make more informed decisions about your deals.
For instance, if legal services cost $10k, but the deal you are working on is only initially worth $5k, you may work hard to avoid requiring redlining. However, the deal may only be worth $5k in year one, but through the information you have from the deal desk, you discover that it’ll be worth $10k in year two. This can change your whole calculation about the value of legal services.
Deal desk gives a long-term vision of deals, enabling you to make better financial decisions.
10 Steps to Optimize Your Deal Desk
Just having a deal desk isn’t enough, it needs to be optimized for success.
1. Define role
It’s important to define what types of deals you’ll run by the deal desk and what the responsibilities of a deal desk manager should be.
Deal desks generally only manage non-standard deals. However, a certain small subset of companies do run pricing of standard deals through the deal desk as well.
Generally speaking, Deal desk’s responsibilities will include:
- Complex deal proposals
- Manage the entire flow of complex deals
- Review and approval of deals
- Provide parameters and tools for standard deals
- Point of contact for negotiations
- And more
There’s really no right or wrong answer here. But it’s important to define this early so everyone knows when to turn to the deal desk and what resources the deal desk can provide.
2. Know who does what
Deal Desks are meant to be a centralized hub for all relevant stakeholders to work together.
These stakeholders will differ by company, but they will likely include:
Each stakeholder performs a different function to help the deal desk run smoothly. But, it’s up to you to make sure that they know their role as well as have an understanding of where they fit in the process as it relates to the other stakeholders.
So, once you’ve identified who is going to be a part of the deal desk, sit down with them to iron out who will be responsible for what when a non-standard deal comes through.
3. Understand the buyer journey
Buyer’s don’t generally show up to your website ready to purchase without having done their own due diligence. This process is called the buyer’s journey and it is critical that everyone involved with the deal desk understands it through and through.
According to Hubspot, there are 3 universal stages of this journey:
The challenge for the deal desk is to know how your buyers go through each of these stages.
Where are they first gaining awareness?
What other products or services are they considering?
And what is their decision criteria?
The answers to these questions are crucial to having your deal desk set up for success.
4. Establish a process
Having an official process in place is crucial to attaining one of the main goals of Deal Desk — speed.
A cumbersome, resource-intensive deal desk would ultimately defeat the purpose. So, cross-organizational efficiency is another important goal.
An established process can significantly shorten the review process while providing visibility into the long-term value
Creating templated proposals to streamline standard deals is crucial here. In addition, sales must be provided with clear parameters and flexibility in order to experiment with pricing and explore different packaging options.
5. Optimize approval workflows
Without a deal desk, sales teams often lack the approval process needed to handle custom pricing. A deal desk helps set the boundaries for sales reps to make those kinds of decisions on their own.
Sales reps need to be empowered to work as independently as possible. They need visibility into their deals and the ability to automate their standard deal approval process while notifying the right teams for additional approvals to non-standard deals.
Part of an effective approval workflow means that a quarterly assessment must be done. In particular, if a company rolls out new pricing, the entire approval workflow needs to be reconfigured.
6. Align strategy
As mentioned earlier, there are many stakeholders involved in the deal desk. And while Sales is the tip of the spear, there are many others working to help the deal succeed.
Sales teams will usually know their own strategy inside and out, but when the other stakeholders involved in the deal desk do not, it becomes a liability.
All teams involved must be trained in the sales strategy, not just the sales team. Sales assets such as personas and playbooks should be shared with all those involved in the deal to ensure alignment across the entire revenue team.
7. Define success
The only way to judge if your deal desk is succeeding is to define what success means at the outset.
What are you looking to accomplish with your deal desk?
Is it to increase the amount of revenue associated with non-standard deals? Lower the amount of improperly priced contracts that go out? Create greater alignment between go-to-market teams?
There’s no one correct answer here, you will need to define what success is for yourself, and make sure everyone involved knows what your north star of success is.
8. Establish KPIs
Deal desks can represent a large investment. And that means, if they’re not achieving the goal you set for them, it’s not worth it. So, establish the KPIs you’ll track to determine deal desk success early.
In an environment where revenue operations is becoming more and more popular, revenue is the north star KPIs. All other KPIs should map back to revenue.
But since the goal of Deal Desk is to create greater efficiencies in the deal closing process for non-standard deals, speed is a critical metric for deal desks.
Focus on KPIs that measure the speed and volume of sales to determine the success of your deal desk.
9. Prepare to scale infrastructure
One of the benefits of deal desk is that it allows teams, such as the product team to be made aware of the scale of a new customer.
When it comes to SaaS, power users tend to push your product to its limits. As you scale your pricing options — especially usage-based pricing — it’s important to prepare your product teams to work towards handling these new demands.
Make sure your engineering teams can work with other deal desk stakeholders to plan and prioritize for the future.
10. Always communicate
Deal desks shouldn’t be static. As your company scales its deal desk function, it’s important that all stakeholders involved continue to keep an open line of communication with one another.
Regular meetings, quarterly reviews, and close coordination must become a regular part of your deal desk.
Your decisions on how to optimize your deal desk going forward should be based on numbers — what is working towards achieving what you have defined as success?
Identify anything causing friction and remove them while emphasizing what has been working the best.
Put Your Deal Desk to Work
Now that you have your road-map to deal desk success, it’s time to put it to use.
Gather your team, establish a process, get everyone on the same page, and start closing large, complex deals faster.
It won’t always be easy, but if you do it right, it’s well worth it.
We’ve put this infographic together, in conjunction with RevOps, to help.