The sales productivity manager is new and on the rise. But before I get into that, let’s talk sales ops real quick.
Sales Operations team has access to a lot of deep data and analytics. We decide what is important to track, build the reports, and then interpret the trends we see. Sales and development teams have a lot of appointment and revenue goals. The question in a fast-paced startup environment becomes – who is going to be responsible for bridging the gap between the results we see versus the results we need? Is it all on the Sales leadership to track every possible number, trend, and relationship from the origin of the data through training up the team?
Those were the questions in leadership meetings that led us to creating the role of Productivity Manager. This is a sales operations role because of the reporting and analytics heavy lifting on the front-end. However, this role is also responsible for bridging the gaps that are found by building out specific training initiatives focused on the rep behaviors that require modification for success.
The Productivity Manager role comes full circle because after they build and interpret the assessments and then train the reps based on the skill and knowledge gaps they find, they are tasked with measuring the results of the training by reassessing the sales team. The basic breakdown of the role is assess, train, measure, and then repeat. We knew when we created this role that there would be a lot to do, but several months into the process we are seeing an ROI well beyond our initial projections. As someone who manages the Productivity Manager, I have been able to break the role down into those three phases.
The Operations team specializes in assessments. We are the administrators of the entire tech stack including Salesforce, which is where we get the lion’s share of our information (especially regarding productivity). When Natalie, our Productivity Manager, joined the sales ops team this year, I told her that her first task was to do a month’s worth of full-time detective work. She listened to calls, studied cadences, had off-site coffee meetings, and worked closely with the sales ops team to build out a productivity dashboard in Salesforce to measure the performance of each member of the team.
Outside of Salesforce, Natalie also built out a matrix assessment for each team within the sales org (sales development, small business account executives, and account executives), mapping them out in quadrants by skill and work ethic with plans of action attached to each quadrant: performance action plan, train, empower, and amplify. Before the first one-on-one session or training was scheduled, this assessment (with individual and team trends) was presented to the sales leadership team. Once the leaders had access to the assessment and an understanding of the results, a plan could be rolled out.
The first decision that we made was to build out a leadership advancement workshop to empower the leadership team. A top-down training approach would be the most impactful, as a lot of the rep-level feedback revolved around what they perceived as gaps that could be filled immediately by leadership. From there we moved to one-on-one and small group trainings around topics such as discovery talk tracks and time management.
Once those trainings were in motion and some quick wins happened around the results, a Lunch and Learn was planned for the entire sales organization which unified the team on four major topics: making a connection, setting an agenda, our company “why”, and the art of discovery. These topics were all sourced through the assessment and early training phase.
Looking at the current pipeline of projects that came out of the Assessment phase, we are able to structure trainings that are more relevant to the current challenges of the team. Having one person own that calendar allows those trainings to be more thoughtful and respectful to the sales team’s already heavily packed schedule.
Now that we have had several trainings at every level, we are working to find more ways to measure the impact the Sales Productivity Manager is having on the sales team. The immediate feedback came from a few strategic surveys to make sure we have buy-in and excitement around the training. Measuring productivity also gives us a strong indication of who is improving based on things like pipeline flow, demos booked, qualified opportunities, closing ratios, and shortening the sales cycle. The quick wins we see with individuals allows us to empower those reps. Then we can focus down on what’s working and socialize it to the rest of the team. The areas where we do not see improvement become the focus of the next round of trainings.
A few other areas influenced by the role of productivity manager…
Above is a pretty general breakdown of the role. When we built out this role and hired our dream candidate, we knew how we wanted it to impact the entire sales organization. The added bonus has been the insights we have gained into the leadership team. Natalie has uncovered new strengths and challenges that each of the sales leaders have, and because of that we have built out a Leadership Advancement Workshop to empower our managers in a group setting.
When you are a new manager or young in your career, you don’t know what you don’t know. The challenge is that on day one you step into a role where you are responsible for managing a team of people and hitting a number. There are a lot of things that can fall through the cracks during the daily effort to get to a team’s goal. Having a dedicated role to support the leadership team and their professional development has a huge cultural impact. The sales culture changes as leaders become more empowered, have more tools and resources, and participate in an unfiltered feedback loop to understand what is working and what is not.
New Rep Onboarding
The Productivity Manager also has full charge over the onboarding process. Every new rep on the team spends their first several weeks getting trained by the Productivity Manager. Natalie went through the current onboarding process with new hires and assessed each session. She then restructured the onboarding training to make it more interactive and efficient.
When we hired Natalie, there was no expectation that she would be the one up in front of every group leading every training. She is fully capable, which she proved to the entire organization through her well-received Lunch and Learn, but her goal is to figure out who is the best and most knowledgeable on any given topic and leverage them as training resources. She organizes the training, helps structure and brand the materials, and then organizes the calendar. This is especially helpful during new rep onboarding because each new rep gets to hear from the entire leadership team on a topic that represents one of their great strengths (prospecting, sales process, technology, etc).
Overall, this new role has been a thrilling success. Natalie spent the first 30 days of her new role as Productivity Manager learning all about the people and the processes here at Greenhouse. She was able put together detailed presentations for the leadership team on what she felt she could have the most impact.
When Natalie first started, I told her that her first mission, should she choose to accept it, was to get the buy-in of the leadership team and the sales team. Her first job was to listen and build trust (the same as any great sales professional who is building a relationship with the end goal being a trusted partnership). The proof of concept for this new role lies in Natalie’s calendar and project board which is fully booked out for the foreseeable future.
Now Natalie’s days are full of meetings because her advice and structure are highly sought after on every level. She gets the most candid information from everyone she works with and builds an action plan to back every ask. I highly recommend that companies looking to scale consider building out the role of Productivity Manager. With the right hire, this role can have an immediate impact on the growth and professional development of the sales organization, as well as the revenue numbers and overall productivity of the team.
Also published on Medium.