Will Real Time Reporting for KAM Help Sales Ops Breathe Easy?

Real-Time Reporting won’t just help; it could power Key Account Management model to success.

A veritable game-changer, possibly. The DemandFarm Blog has consistently argued how Key Accounts are latent revenue drivers. The hourglass metaphor neatly sums up the growth potential Key Accounts hold.

Unfortunately, these opportunities are not evident to the extent that they become compelling. Thus, most of the time, the Key Account Management strategy is fraught with a ‘business as usual’ approach. The absence of real-time reporting plays a little role in accentuating this problem. The sales operations team entrusted with the reporting function recognizes this challenge.

But what can they do?

Reporting on Key Accounts is saddled with complexity. On one hand, we have the overwhelming business of the Key Account and on the other, the way organizations manage Key Accounts internally - endless Excel files sitting at various locations, PPTs whose templates keep changing, not to forget the occasional paper memos and thesis emails, and ultimately some closed-door meetings that may not have been minuted. The sales operations team has its task cut out.

Why anytime reporting?

Because, why should it be any other way?

Ok, that was the short answer.

The longer one starts with the status quo and ends with transparency. Diagnostic Status QuoToday, Sales Ops teams prepare reports by collecting data from various sources. Some of the data sources are within their control and mostly a click away.

However, some, including financial metrics and sales team activities, require coordination and repeated email requests. This adds ‘point of failures’ to the workflow. Even if things work out on time, manual reconciliation issues, omission commission errors and ‘Acts of Man’, make reporting one BIG job. What this means is that the reporting process takes a couple of weeks or more?

This lead time runs the risk of depreciating the value of any reporting insight if derived. What may be needed is a real-time, insight-driven report that Spurs necessary and relevant business action. Not a diagnostic that just presents what happened.

Transparency to the C-Suite

Key Accounts are core to an organization’s strategic plan. Their performance gets attention not just from the Head of Sales, but also from the CEO. The C-Suite, especially, is well-positioned to make a material difference to Key Accounts, by virtue of existing relationships and scale. The current diagnostic approach to reporting compromises the leveraging power of C-Suite in 3 ways.

  • Reactive: The C-Suite has a dependency on reporting teams for insights. Thus, their reactive response. Additionally, review meetings become clarification/ correctional sessions instead of collaborative engagements designed to move forward.
  • Optimistic Dressing: A manual approach to reporting, inadvertently, encourages optimism, and to a great extent when it comes to C-Suite reporting. How do we correct this?
  • The big picture: the C-Suite gets reports from various Key Account teams at various times and may miss out on the BIG PICTURE of multiple Key Accounts and what that may mean to the overall organizational strategy or health. It also helps track several Annual Plans and how they are faring compared to the projections.

A real-time accessible report can make the C-Suite an integral team member of the Key Account Management process.

Sales Ops leaders realize this potential of any time reporting but have their own problem of plenty.

The Tough life of Sales Ops

An article from Harvard Business Review cleverly presents the hardships of Sales Ops by jotting down some job descriptions (JD) for the role of Sales Operations. Here is what one of the JD looked like:

Strategy

  • Contribute to the 1- and 3-year business vision as a member of the executive leadership team.
  • Evaluate sales force strategies, plans, goals, and objectives.
  • Contribute expertise to optimize sales force and territory sizing, structuring, and alignment.

Operations

  • Oversee sales performance analyses and reporting, territory alignment, and customer profiling and targeting activities.
  • Administer quarterly sales incentive compensation plans and the goal-setting process.
  • Manage sales force automation and CRM systems and processes.
  • Provide data, analyses, modeling, and reporting to support sales force quarterly business reviews.

This 85-word excerpt from a JD had just ‘one’ word for ‘reporting’. Beat that. The good folks at SalesLoft in one of their eBooks dedicated to sales operations leaders broke down this role into three.

  • Process
  • Data, and
  • Implementation

As you guessed correctly, reporting falls under Data and is just one of the functions executed by Sales Ops. So without automation, there is a good chance of reporting becoming a distraction. In addition to this, Sales Ops are also burdened with technology and account planning tools.

These days, the best sales teams are empowered by technology solutions, tools, and data. These technology solutions and tools have enabled many organizations to create sales force effectiveness and sales growth.

This flow towards technology has indeed made Sales Operations a vital part of the sales by uniquely positioning them to leverage data and technology. All this requires Sales Ops to put strategic time into sales enablement, warranting the need for automated reporting. After all, we are talking about expensive salesman hours.

KAM Technology to the Rescue

A Key Account Management tool can surely help organize data better and enables sales leaders and indeed all stakeholders to have access to reports and data anywhere anytime.

  • Leverage Existing Data - Leverage existing CRM data to populate analytics rather than depending on the managers, SDRs, and KAMs to fill it out for you. Collate all the data into a single format and store it in a single place so everybody can access and interpret it consistently and in real-time.
  • The platform for Collaboration - It can provide a platform for collaboration between the many stakeholders involved in managing and growing the most strategic customers by making reports and actions shareable and interactive.
  • Insights Like Never Before - Deliver the right customer-centric insights for clarity and action. The landscape, whitespace, opportunities, relationship ‘type’, ‘health’, and ‘attractiveness’ everything to make strategic decisions about key accounts.

KAM Technology empowers Sales Ops teams to service and drive business focused sales teams towards performance. KAM Tech drives productivity gains by saving expensive man-hours. It also impacts revenue by throwing up new business opportunities buried under layers of tasks and data points.

While Sales Ops can breathe easy, it is the business that is now on the run.

Milind Katti

Milind is CEO & Co-Founder of DemandFarm. Having practiced and evolved the ‘account farming’ principle for over a decade he established DemandFarm and is passionate about delivering the best B2B key account management tool to serve the needs of key account managers. Milind also serves on the Board of LeadEnrich & is a Strategic Adviser.

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