How a deal desk can improve your sales flow

Team Asana contributor imageTeam AsanaMay 6th, 20225 min read
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Summary

A deal desk is a cross-functional team that moves important sales from leads to closure. By creating a deal desk, you’ll strengthen your sales pipeline and enable team members to work together more efficiently. Read on to learn how to build an effective deal desk.

Companies must make a profit to be successful, which means they need to find leads and close deals. This responsibility often falls on the sales team, but with such high stakes, shouldn’t other team members get involved? 

A deal desk is a collaborative approach to evaluating complex deals and increasing company revenue. In this process, team members from various departments work together to bring in top leads and send them down the pipeline. Read on and learn how to build a deal desk that improves your sales operations

What is a deal desk?

[Inline illustration] What is a deal desk (abstract)

A deal desk is a cross-functional team that works together to get high-value deals through the sales pipeline quickly and efficiently. While sales reps work alone on most company deals, the deal desk focuses on complex or high-value deals. Using a deal desk to streamline sales operations can reduce sales cycle times by up to 40% and enhance sales productivity by up to 20%.

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Roles and responsibilities of a deal desk analyst

While most people involved in the deal desk have other roles and responsibilities, you should assign a deal desk analyst or specialist to handle operations of the desk and ensure things run smoothly.

A deal desk analyst isn’t a client-facing role. They focus on the process side of deals, and their main responsibilities may include:

  • Working with members of the deal desk to handle individual responsibilities during the sales process

  • Ensuring the deal desk team stays aligned

  • Setting up deals 

  • Improving processes and tracking deal desk performance

The deal desk analyst is a crucial member of the team because they serve as everyone’s main point of contact. They manage the workflow for how to handle any high-value, complex, or high-touch deals that come through.

Other teams to involve in the deal desk

When you create a cross-functional team to handle high-value deals, your deals can improve as a result. Consider including individuals from the following teams:

  • Marketing: Marketing team members can use data to analyze your target audience, populate a list of prospects, and assess their pain points.

  • Sales: You’ll have sales reps on the deal desk who put persuasive deals together for clients or customers.

  • Legal: A team member from the legal department can join the deal desk to review deals and ensure they’re contractually sound. 

  • Finance: A team member from the financial department can review pricing of deals and facilitate the exchange of money once the deal goes through.

How to build an effective deal desk

To ensure your deal desk functions properly, set up a strong process flow in advance. Team members working on the deal desk will have tasks outside of the deals coming through the desk, so it’s important to get everyone on the same page and prioritize tasks accordingly.

[Inline illustration] 6 steps to create a deal desk (infographic)

Using the steps below, build an effective deal desk that seeks to move non-standard deals through the pipeline with ease.

1. Set expectations

Every company uses their deal desk differently, and the first thing to do is determine your deal desk goals. Observe your sales operations and look at what holes need filling. Ask the following questions:

  • Where could the sales team use support?

  • What weaknesses do we have in our current sales process?

  • How can we increase sales cycle times and win rates?

Use your answers to set expectations for what you want your deal desk to achieve. For example, if the sales team struggles with high-value deals because these deals take more time and effort, then the deal desk can handle those deals from start to finish. That way, those deals get more eyes and support, and as a result, others have more time to focus on lower-value deals.

2. Identify your team

Once you know the expectations for your deal desk, it should be easy to identify the team members you need. If you’ve decided that your deal desk will handle high-value deals from start to finish, then you’ll need team members who can manage each part of the sales process, including a:

  • Sales representative

  • Legal team member

  • Finance team member

  • Marketing team member

  • Customer success team member

These individuals will handle the lead generation, contract setup, pricing, deal structure, and interaction for high-value deals, while the sales team sticks to lower-value deals. 

3. Set deal criteria

Now that you have a team ready to work the deal desk, set the criteria for which deals classify as high value. Criteria for what qualifies as a high-value (or complex) deal may include:

  • Clients with a certain level of notoriety

  • Clients over a certain budget

  • Clients with multiple points of contact

  • Clients needing a lot of interaction

If you want your deal desk to handle high-value deals from start to finish, then the sales team should hand off all leads that meet the criteria. However, the deal desk can get involved at any stage in the sales process. For example, you may decide that it’s more efficient to send high-value leads to the deal desk only after the sales rep nurtures them and ensures they’re hot. 

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4. Define your work strategy

Every team needs a strategy to get things done. By defining your workflow from the start, you’ll ensure that when team members come together, they know exactly what to do and how to do it.

Each deal desk’s strategy will be different. But to continue with our above example, one deal desk handoff might look like this:

  • A sales rep sends a high-value lead to the deal desk

  • This flags the marketing team member to evaluate the lead and assess their needs

  • The deal desk sales rep develops a custom deal structure for the lead

  • The legal team member evaluates the deal

  • The customer success team member interacts with the lead to increase buy-in and engagement while the deal goes through

  • The finance team member finalizes the transaction

Because your team may not meet in person, a hand-off structure helps everyone know when it’s their turn to get involved.

5. Analyze your success

Like most workflows, setting up a deal desk isn’t a one-and-done process. Once you have your deal desk up and running, strive for continuous improvement. Take your time to see what’s working and what isn’t. Use sales software to assess whether your deal desk is increasing profits. You may notice:

  • More high-value deals coming through the pipeline.

  • Reduced sales cycle time.

  • Increased productivity among team members on and off the deal desk.

  • Increased closure of low-value deals because of deal desk support. 

You may also notice areas that still need work. For example, your deal desk team may initially struggle to communicate. Because these team members haven’t worked together before, they may need time to adjust. Try setting up workshops or ice breakers outside of the deal desk process and seek to improve team dynamics in the workplace

6. Revise your strategy as needed

Use insights from your analysis to revise your deal desk strategy. While a deal desk often improves your sales flow, a poorly functioning team can cause a drop in profits. To avoid adverse effects, perform a deal desk analysis during any time you review your sales process—preferably on a regular schedule. That way, you’re monitoring the team’s progress and effectiveness.

Read: The ultimate guide to choosing a universal reporting tool for team leads

Benefits of a deal desk

When used effectively, a deal desk is a benefit for both your sales team and your company. By integrating team members across various departments and bringing their unique departmental skills to the table, you can meet client needs and secure wins more often—especially high-value deals.

[Inline illustration] Using a deal desk can lead to (infographic)

Other benefits of deal desks include:

  • Faster deals: Two heads are better than one, and four heads are better than two. When the team understands their roles and collaborates effectively to close each deal, you’ll close deals faster.

  • Better insight into customer needs: A cross-functional team has a more diverse skill set than a team made up of only sales representatives. This makes it easier to understand the customer’s needs from various perspectives.

  • More aligned offers: Having a clear process in place makes it easier for your team to create offers that are more consistent in terms of their size, quality, and structure.

  • More aligned teams: Because your deal desk includes members from various departments, it naturally serves a way to keep cross-functional team members informed. These individuals can go back to their respective departments and communicate the company’s sales progress—without the need for a status meeting or long presentation.

  • Less risk: Having a successful deal desk can reduce risk by increasing company profits and producing a steady flow of high-value deals. 

Use a deal desk to win clients and close sales

A strong deal desk is a team with the skills and support necessary to turn prospects into loyal customers. Use work management software to solidify a workflow for your deal desk so things move smoothly through the pipeline and team members accomplish their tasks without a beat.

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