“I don’t know what I would have done without them”, this is a statement made by the VP Sales of a mid-sized retail-CRM SaaS company ($80 million in revenue with 60 quota-carrying sales reps) when I was having a conversation on sales challenges with him. He was referring to the deal desk function at his organization. 

“Yes, our workload has swollen, but stress is making us super-thin” commented the deal desk analyst of the same organization when I spoke to her. When I continued to ask, she said: “Sales teams depend on us heavily to do everything with sales deals”. And, it is the same sentiment that echoes pretty much in all mid to big sized sales organizations.

Behind every significant deal, there is a dedicated and skilled team that works hard to bring it to realization. Deal desk is at the forefront of this well-rounded team. What is the game plan to righting the ship and improving the deal desk function, you ask? With the right strategy in place, you can boost the efficiency and performance of your deal desk.

Here are seven steps to transform your deal desk into a high-impact function:

1) Turn the unknown to known by defining the role of your deal desk ✨

A deal desk is the “pulse” of the sales organization and is responsible for driving commercial deals to closure by providing sales teams with strategic and operational support. The roles and responsibilities of the deal desk vary from organization to organization. In some companies, it handles only complex sales deals. In some others, it manages and standardizes all sales deals. There could also be instances where an analyst or group of analysts might be doing all the responsibilities of a deal desk without having a formal “title”.

Responsibilities of deal desk as a function include:

  • Interact with internal business teams and help sales teams to accelerate the deal velocity
  • Assist sales teams in developing creative deal structures, ensure the accuracy of sales quotes, discounts, and maintain guardrails around legal terms
  • Assist with complex contract negotiations and manage the approval process
  • Handle day-to-day transactional deal pricing requests
  • Act as a trusted advisor to sales leadership, sales community, and other stakeholders within the organization

Clearly define what services your deal desk will perform, to whom they will provide these services, and communicate the same to the other key stakeholders in your organization.

2) Get the most from your deal desk team by defining who does what 🎯

Deal desks consist of analysts, sales ops, and managers who work on price modeling, proposal creation, negotiations, and handling transactional deal pricing requests. They need to engage with participants from legal, product, finance and sales who need to approve critical elements of the deal. Decide who will create deal documents (contracts, quotes, SOW, MSA, etc.), who will create approval flows, who defines guardrails for the approval process, and who approves the deal. Once you define who does what, empower them with authority and accountability to make decisions. When big business opportunities are pursued, your team needs to move forward in unison with precise coordination and execution.

3) Build a process that gets results ✍️

Deal desk acts as the single point of entry for all deals – in terms of leveraging pricing strategy, quote management, proposal management, discount/margin management, and deal approvals. Lack of processes and non-compliance in this function will derail the success of your high-value deals. Having a transparent and standardized process ensures that the right deals are being pursued, contract negotiations are conducted diligently, and time frames for submitting and approving deals are clear.

Streamline your practices by creating standard deal templates and deal approval flows. Provide practical guidelines for handling non-standard clauses or deviations, also make sure that there is a certain amount of flexibility, control and discipline to win the deals the right way. Having templates and processes in place will help finance and legal spend less time reviewing deals, and avoid unnecessary back and forth communication.

4) You’ve got their back – Build a deep trusting relationship with your sales teams 🤝      

Your executive leadership should highlight the importance of deal desk as a function, and encourage its collaboration with sales. They need to establish it as the trusted advisor to the sales team on all deal-related matters. The team can advise sales on acceptable options to quickly execute deals in the pipeline, and value proposition to drive deal closures. They also serve as a liaison between sales and other key partners involved in the deal structuring process for getting the necessary deal approvals. So, it is crucial that these two teams work together.

Deal desk is at the nexus of sales organizations, helping sales win strategic deals that boost revenue while keeping sight of the organizations’ long term growth.

Sales need to consider deal desk as their extension, it will create better engagement and productivity within your organization.

5) Hire the right people; the rest will fall in place 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧

Sales teams fall back on deal desk analysts/sales ops to clear any gray areas that they face during the sales cycle. Make sure that you hire the right people. They should have the motivation and character to help sales close deals. Your team should consist of people who have creativity, communication skills, negotiation skills, ability to build credible relationships, empathy, combined with critical thinking. Once you have recruited the best, train and manage them do their job well. Encourage them to have a quarterback mentality, vision, and direction.

6) Know what it takes to achieve success from your buyers’ perspective 🛒

An understanding of your product, as well as your buyer’s journey, is critical to your deal desk strategy. Knowing your customer’s perspective will help your team provide unique product configurations and contract terms to customers. It will also enable them to help sales provide a great buying experience to customers. Comprehending your buyer’s journey will get them familiarized with the impact it has on the time a deal takes to negotiate and close, and provide insights on what kind of deals will work well. If your product has finite configurations, simple pricing and small to mid-sized deals, then your sales process and your approval process need to match the speed at which sales are done.

7) Upgrade your sales tech stack, look beyond your CRM 👩‍💻

Consider automating your deal desk function with the latest technology. Analyze what you would like to achieve from automation. What are the tasks you would like to automate? And how will they improve the efficiency of your deal desk? From there, you can take decisions as to which tools and technology are worth investing in and how you can integrate them into your work environment. It is ideal that your sales, finance, and legal use a single central tool that makes it is easy to add price, discounts and create your contracts, manage internal approvals, and then quickly send the document to customers for their signature.

So, there you have it – seven ways to build a high impact deal desk. Take the time to invest in your deal desk, value and empower them. You will find it brings benefits to your entire sales organization.

How useful is your deal desk in helping sales win those high-value deals? In your opinion, should the deal desk be a team, or can it be a set of tools? I would like to hear about your organization’s deal desk experiences, so if you have any questions, please comment below.    

To learn more about implementing an effective deal desk, talk to our expert.