Winning a Formula One race requires fast decisions from the pilots. While driving at an average 346 km per hour (215 mph) on the Monaco circuit, the drivers need accurate information on the track, weather conditions and competitors’ positions. One slight error can cost the team precious points in the race.
Behind every Formula One team’s successes are the engineers in mission control teams. Their role is to collect and analyse vast amounts of data during races using a set of algorithms to suggest when to come in for a pit stop or whether to change tires, for example. Calculating for marginal advantages make the difference in competitive situations. Ultimately though, the driver is in control and makes the final decision.
Similarly, in B2B sales, while the salesperson has the most control, it’s the middle office that gives them an edge by:
- Providing accurate and timely information.
- Empowering sales to make better decisions.
- Capturing best practices to be shared across the organization.
A process enabler
A well-designed digital middle office is a process enabler. It leverages important, timely data and passes it to sales for more effective negotiations. It allows organizations to win more by connecting the insights and efficiency of your backend with the flexibility and effectiveness of your frontend.
Custodianship over several datasets and multiple stakeholder interactions place the middle office in a unique position to build company-wide insight. Digital technologies create more efficient ways to identify opportunities for sales and provide commercial trend data for strategy departments. At its core is the pricing function. Deciphering the data to understand how to deliver the right solution at the right price, to the right customer, at the right time means you will win more.
Companies that power up on digital middle office capabilities become more competitive, efficient, and sustainable. In fact, solutions that deliver sales guidance can result in 2-5% return on sales improvement to the bottom line.
A boost to the bottom line
Today’s sales efforts require more than just infrastructure, data and technology. When designing a digital middle office, real empowerment is imperative. And it happens when teams adopt and begin to own the insights provided to them. A digital middle office should seek to support sales in the following activities:
- Make entrepreneurial decisions. The best salespeople act as CEOs of their business including territory, region, or set of accounts. Assuming responsibility and ownership is an essential part of their role. The salesperson needs to be able to judge and adjust swiftly during negotiations. Even AI technologies cannot model every negotiated situation; deals require human experience and fine-tuning.
- Use and improve sales guidance. Promote best practices to use quoting solutions and leverage insights. For example, pricing guidance might be statistically correct, but when presented in the wrong market context, it is unlikely to be accepted.
- Reduce risk and improve transparency. Sharing potential outcomes and enabling simulation capabilities can help sales understand the impact of their decisions. There are different ways to reach a quota. Until the chosen paths are in compliance with guidelines, sales should be free to choose between them. Empowered teams are in the driver’s seat.
While building a digital middle office, the pricing and sales operations functions should aim to create a more efficient way of delivering actionable insight and accurate prices to sales. It should be simple, easy-to-use, and delivered in one application. When integrated with CRM, ERP, and other data sources, you’ll help reduce additional maintenance and data input. The goal should be to reduce administrative effort, free up time to drive growth, and lower cost of sales.
A digital middle office can support sales to be more successful in their roles and cope with the changing landscape of customer engagements. For more benefits, read the post The Middle Office: Complementing ERP & CRM.