If you asked most people what they know about the deal desk function, their answers might look pretty similar. They’d say that a deal desk team generates sales proposals, negotiates terms with customers, and works with internal stakeholders to get deal desk decisions approved quickly.
But in reality, such a cross functional team does so much more to power complex deals.
Not understanding the deal desk function raises other questions too, such as, "Which roles should I add to my team: a deal desk manager, senior deal desk analyst, account executive, or sales rep?”
(That’s why writing a job description to attract qualified applicants for a deal desk role can be so challenging for sales leadership.)
This post outlines the ten critical functions of a deal desk, providing the blueprint for your future deal desk strategy. In no particular order, they are:
- Needs analysis
- Outlining the buyer’s journey
- Setting profitability and pricing guidance
- Gathering competitive intelligence
- Preparing proposals
- Configuring sales proposals and sales enablement assets
- Managing contract terms and risk
- Managing the approval process
- Designing workflows for order management
- Deal review and metrics
Let’s dive in.
#1 Performing needs analysis
A deal desk team must deeply understand the customer’s needs and how the product can address those needs. A deal desk analyst might use a checklist, survey form, or some other needs analysis tool to arrive at the answers, which moves them to the next stage:
#2 Outlining the buyer’s journey
Understanding your customer’s needs illuminates their buyer journey from awareness to consideration and closing.
By aligning your sales team’s activity to a client’s internal motions, it’s possible to improve your proposal design process, increase the likelihood of closing the sales deal, and improve the customer experience.
#3 Setting profitability and pricing guidance
Your pricing strategy is a huge lever for business growth - and in complex deals, using the right CPQ tool is critical to success. Scoping out the customer’s needs against your product’s capabilities allows for more accurate and profitable pricing.
What’s more, a keener understanding of your customer’s preferred buying method improves your revenue structure. It allows you to offer a range of options, from one-time charges and recurring fees to usage-based charges and seat pricing.
#4 Gathering competitive intelligence
The needs analysis process also gives you valuable information about your competition - especially rival tools that your prospects have either heard of, tried, or used successfully before. You’ll also learn your competitors’ pricing, strengths, and weaknesses and identify opportunities and threats.
Over time, this experience will help you structure better contract terms, improve deal closure, and maximize customer success.
#5 Preparing proposals
A well-written proposal signals a close understanding of your customer’s needs and how you can help. Succinctness, structure, and savvy objection handling are vital elements of an effective sales proposal.
#6 Configuring sales offers and sales enablement assets
When you combine a keen understanding of your customer’s needs, buying process, solutions they’ve tried before, and preferred pricing models, you can start making compelling offers that address those points.
These offer configurations will involve different features, pricing terms, usage clauses, and renewal terms.
What’s more, you’ll begin to understand the kinds of sales collateral you need to support those offers and drive more closed-won deals. See our guide to setting up a sales enablement program within your sales organization.
#7 Managing contract terms and risk
Complex deals generate complex contract terms, and deal desk managers are responsible for accurate and traceable contract management practices. Much of this boils down to the need for risk management according to best practices. Common questions to address as part of your deal strategy include:
- What happens during service outages? (SLA uptime guarantees)
- What if the client’s team expands in the future? (Seat based pricing provisions)
- What happens if payment lags? (Notifications and potential service termination)
To a deal desk manager, risk management lies at the heart of deal structuring.
#8 Managing the approval process
For every significant movement in non standard deals, one or more approvals are needed. This approval process will look different for each sales team and customer.
If a client wants more favorable pricing terms, for example, the CFO or head of revenue operations might need to greenlight that. If the client requests a specific product deployment, the dev team manager might chime in with their thoughts on its feasibility.
In this way, a successful deal process is merely a series of granted approvals over time.
#9 Designing workflows for order management
Each customer in a complex sales cycle is unique, but it’s possible to improve sales efficiency in your standard deal structure over time.
From knowing the required internal stakeholders to preparing custom development timelines and poring over historical pricing, your sales reps can start cobbling together a repeatable process that addresses future non standard deal requests.
#10 Measuring and reporting deal metrics
Deal desk measurement boils down to figuring out if real-world deal outcomes align with the goals of your sales organization. To ensure revenue recognition, a senior analyst might track KPIs such as deal profit margins, deal win rates in a quarter or year, and average deal size in the pipeline.
After every instance of your sales process, the deal review ensures all internal stakeholders are aligned on what to boost, improve, or avoid to ensure profitability and customer success.
Deal desks power complex sales
Deal desk teams aim to create repeatable, streamlined processes for moving large deals through the pipeline. From needs analysis and competitive intelligence to pricing and contract management, deal desk teams are the pistons that power the engine of complex sales operations.
Continue the deal desk journey and hear from Megan Smith, Senior Manager of Deal Desk at HubSpot, about how to improve your deal desk.