Every opportunity is a deal. And that deal starts somewhere. Right?
But how do you ensure the right deals come through the pipeline and they're properly qualified before they go through your chain of approval?
How do you ensure sales, finance, and legal are aligned, working together to push the deals across the finish line?
When I first started my career, there were two options:
If you were lucky, you had Salesforce; if you were even luckier, you had CPQ (maybe you weren't so lucky if you were part of the CPQ implementation).
Otherwise, you had spreadsheets to manage your Deal Desk function; or, even worse, emails.
Oh, how we have come a long way since those days...
We now have Deal Desk.
If you aren't familiar with what a deal desk is, allow me to share.
Chargebee defines Deal Desk as a:
"Cross-functional team that has one sole purpose – to ensure that high-value complex deals in the pipeline sail through and get signed. A deal desk gathers all important stakeholders and information in one single place and often includes representation from the sales team, finance, legal, product, marketing, customer success, and support."
The importance of defined processes, elimination of silos and increased alignment, and the ability of these things to drive revenue acceleration are well known.
But how do we build a Deal Desk?
The building blocks for a deal desk are a documented process, a deal desk committee, and we can't forget your Deal Desk systems.
Deal desk is a critical piece of go-to-market teams to accelerate revenue in the sales cycle. Having an official process in place is crucial to attaining one of the main goals of the deal desk - speed. The other is cross-departmental efficiency in true revenue operations fashion, bringing alignment to organizations in any way possible.
Process, process, process.
This is the foundation for anything you want to build for your team. So how do you build the process for your Deal Desk?
Start with an audit of all of your deals in the last year; if you are lucky, there is a centralized location for these.
Start with creating a simple discounting policy as per deal size. "Deal size" here refers to the number of licenses or instances based on the nature of your SaaS business. Add criteria to this policy based on various dimensions like the region, product, and the channel through which customers are acquired.
If you have a large enough sales team, you can discount levels based on sales seniority (individual contributors, sales leads, and managers).
You will then have to cross-reference this information with sales reps, territories, and product lines.
Here's what you should be looking for:
Once you have your list, it's time to move on to the next step.
Start by grouping your deal types - standard vs. custom, for example.
A standard deal could be one with no contract redlines, minimum discounts, and no other pricing changes. This deal should automatically go through the chain of command, and approval fast-tracked to the final contract approver.
For custom deals, you will need an approval matrix.
Grab your favorite documentation tool (could be something as simple as a google sheet or robust as Miro or Lucidchart) to create the base of your approval matrix.
As you refine your process and your deals become more complex, you can add to your approval matrix. Hang onto the approval matrix; documenting it will help you in the next two steps when building out your committee and designing your system.
The key to this part of the Deal Desk is including stakeholders to review deals and progress, be stewards of the process, and drive executive buy-in.
The Deal Desk committee should include Sales Operations or Revenue Operations representatives, finance, legal, sales, or revenue leadership.
If we think of Sales Operations or Revenue Operations as the program managers of all the go-to-market processes, they need to be on the Deal Desk committee.
The purpose of establishing the committee is to ensure alignment and accountability.
Regularly reviewing the goals of the deal desk program in your organization is vital to success. Agreeing on the goals at the start of your deal desk implementation is important.
Some goals to consider when creating your Deal Desk include:
Include your goals in your program charter and review regularly with the committee.
To automate or not automate, that is the question.
Now that you have your process documented and defined and your committee established, you can build your system to support the Deal Desk function in your organization.
Automation is an important consideration when setting out to build your deal desk system, but how much of the process do you want to automate?
Where can processes be automated, and which steps need to stay manual?
Tools like RevOps can help as you are building out your Deal Desk system.
You will have a centralized location for sales agreement templates, pricing models, workflow automation for approvals, and it will exist in a place accessible to all the key stakeholders involved.
In this part of the build, the key things to consider include reducing what I call "tool hopping" (especially for your sales reps).
Naturally, your CRM will be an integral component of the deal desk. However, you can include a tool that plays nice with your CRM making the operational challenge of connecting systems easier.
With a tool configured to support the process, you'll have a better chance for internal teams to adopt it. Reducing the number of places to build and approve your deal will increase your deal velocity.
And you'll save time by not having to deal with those nasty sync errors in your tech stack.
Building a Deal Desk is a critical part of your GTM motion; it exists to accelerate revenue by streamlining the deal review and approval process.
Standardizing and documenting processes, forming a committee to ensure alignment and collaboration, and configuring your tech stack to support the process are the steps that will get you started.
From there, it's lather, rinse and repeat.
As with any processes in your revenue operations playbook, the Deal Desk process should be regularly reviewed and iterated to keep your revenue engine humming along.