B2B companies often implement sales deal desks to aid with closing deals. Regardless of the reason, four steps should be followed when implementing a deal desk.
The term “dealing desk” originated with financial and brokerage institutions as a way to describe a place where real-time transactions of equities, securities and other financial instruments occurred that required rapid review and approval. B2B companies often implement sales deal desks to aid with closing deals. This is typically driven by one or more of the following three scenarios:
- Complex, high-value, competitive deals with long sales cycles and high cost of sales
- Difficult internal sales processes for deal review and approval, causing sales reps to spend too much time on activities such as pricing review and approval, proposal and contract development
- Lack of product or offering expertise in the sales organization, often exaggerated by a merger, acquisition or major product release that requires in-depth knowledge
Regardless of the reason, four steps should be followed when implementing a deal desk:
- Define the role of the deal desk. At the most basic level, the deal desk is responsible for reviewing and approving pricing and deal structure, ensuring compliance with price structure, profitability and solution components. As the deal desk matures, companies often add capacity to manage request for proposal (RFP) responses and advise on deal strategy and negotiations. More advanced deal desks also capture and provide business and competitive intelligence.
- Define when and which deals get submitted. Sales operations should define the characteristics of candidate deals (e.g. value, strategic importance, complexity). In addition, the deals should be fully qualified and in the later stages of the sales cycle and buyer’s journey.
- Define who needs to participate. The role of the deal desk determines the required capabilities of the staff. Most organizations begin with an analyst from finance or procurement, augmenting the staff as needed with expertise such as price modeling, proposal writing and product knowledge. If one of its purposes is to expedite deal review and approval, participants also may include sales executives, service executives, and product, legal and other functional groups needed to approve or structure the deal.
- Establish a process for managing the process. Sales operations must define the required inputs and outcomes from the deal desk. The process, documentation, approvals and timeframes for submitting and reviewing a deal should be clear.
Don’t forget about measurement. Implementation of a sales deal desk is an investment of time and resources with an expected return on that investment. Deals submitted to the desk should be tracked for metrics such as turnaround time, win rates, cycle times, average deal size, profitability and pricing compliance.