The Ultimate Guide to B2B Business Operations For Growth
ASEEM CHANDRA | JULY 12, 2022
Business operations is a broad term that encompasses all the work that goes into running your organization. Business operations refer to things like human resources and finance, but they also extend to less obvious areas like marketing and customer service.
Business operations are important because they establish a company’s overall direction and set its course for success.
If you don’t have good business operations in place, it can be difficult to manage your company’s many moving parts and stay on top of growing trends in the industry at large. This can lead to missed opportunities and wasted time (not to mention money).
When looking to improve business operations, it’s important to understand your current processes and identify areas where improvement is needed. So whether you run an online store, provide services, or sell new tools to your B2B customers, read on to learn strategies for increasing efficiency in your organization and its operations.
Functions of B2B business operations
B2B operations management is the back-end of any business. It keeps things running smoothly and allows a company to scale as it grows. Many times business operations managers will have a background in analytics or consulting and can help bring continuous improvement to a business when invested in.
The functions of B2B operations can vary from industry to industry, but some basic functions are common across businesses. The head of operations has to manage everything so that they can continually improve their business process to keep up with the needs of their customers.
When it comes down to it, there are three main functions that B2B businesses need:
- Staffing: Businesses need employees. The HR department is responsible for finding and hiring the right people for each job. They also handle things like employee benefits and payroll.
- Equipment and Technology: Companies need the right tools to get the job done and save time. This includes everything from office supplies to the latest software. The head of operations is responsible for making sure that the company has what it needs to function efficiently.
- Processes: Every business has a unique way of doing things. The heads of operations, or operations managers, are responsible for making sure that these processes are efficient and effective. They are also constantly looking for ways to improve them.
Technology is especially important for companies moving toward a digital transformation. Business operations managers should be able to analyze and provide insights on what roles can be run by people and which ones can be improved with automation or technology.
The different roles of B2B operation
B2B businesses have a unique set of challenges when it comes to operations. B2B customers are often more complex and require more support than their B2C counterparts. What’s more, B2B sales cycles are on average longer, which means that you need to keep your team running smoothly for longer periods.
This is why B2B operations may look different from other types of companies. In B2B companies, business operations refer to three main roles: marketing operations, sales operations, and revenue operations. Each one is critical in driving your business forward, but what do they actually do?
Marketing operations includes everything from planning and budgeting to reporting, internal communications, and more.
Marketing operations are an important part of any campaign because they help keep track of all your performance data and analytics so you can make better decisions about how to run future campaigns. If done well, these systems will also ensure that every person involved in a project has access to all relevant information needed for their role in order to minimize errors or delays at every step along the way.
Some challenges may arise when implementing new processes within organizations because of limited resources or personnel who don’t know what they’re doing yet. However, there are many ways around these problems. One option is to hold training sessions beforehand so everyone understands what needs to be done by when.
B2B sales operations
The sales team is the engine that drives revenue. To succeed, your B2B sales team needs to be aligned with marketing and revenue operations. They must also work together to improve customer experience through a clear and consistent process that is aligned with revenue operations.
The most effective strategies for B2B sales teams involve selling solutions to your target market, rather than just client projects (products or services). This means that if you want your company to grow, you need everyone involved in the sales process: from product development all the way down through marketing and customer service departments, even if they’re not part of your core business operations today.
In the B2B space, revenue operations refer to the processes that take place between a company’s initial sale and collection of funds from its customer. This includes everything from forecasting or pricing quotes to invoicing, collecting payments, and ensuring that the right services or products are delivered on time.
The purpose of revenue operations is twofold: first, it ensures that your business receives payment from customers; second, it allows you and your team members (particularly those in sales) to focus on closing new deals with prospective clients rather than worrying about how you’ll be paid for existing ones.
Revenue operations are largely automated and usually consist of software tools that streamline manual processes like invoice issuance and payment collection through integration with banking systems. However, there will always be some degree of human involvement as well.
For instance, if there’s an issue with one of your invoices (e.g., it was issued incorrectly), someone will have to review it before reissuing an accurate version. Likewise, if there’s a problem with one of your payments (e.g., insufficient funds), someone will need to manually process reversal instructions until said funds are replenished in sufficient quantity.
B2B Operations at a SaaS company
In the tech space specifically, business operations will be data and technology focused. The operations team will be critical to scaling a business and helping a SaaS company innovate on its product and deliver on its promises to its customers. Operations teams at SaaS companies will vary by size, and in the beginning you may find it is distributed with each org having an ops person tied to their team. As the company grows, ops can consolidate into its own org reporting up into the CEO/COO/CFO. Here are three things that an ops team could be involved in with a SaaS business.
- Tech stack overview – The operations team will help manage the tech stack which is all of the technology you use to manage your sales, marketing, product, and customer success. The team will look for was to get the most of the tech stack as well as find new tools that can help with automation or smoother flow and revenue from sales and marketing as well as upsells from customer success.
- Analytics management – many times operations will manage various dashboards for different teams. They can keep a pulse on anomalies that may pop up and help marketing, product, customer success, and sales teams better understand what may have happened during an upswing or a downturn.
- Product development – operations can create some nice connections between all of the teams. This can help influence product development with direct ties from customer feedback and also look for ways to streamline the flow of MQL to Sale.
5 tips to improve your B2B business operations strategy
- Define your company’s goals and objectives
The first step to improving your B2B business operations is to define your company’s goals and objectives. What does your company want to achieve? What are your long-term and short-term goals? Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, you can start to create a plan of how to meet them.
- Analyze your existing processes
The next step is to analyze your existing processes. What works well and what needs improvement? Identify areas where your company is wasting time or money and look for ways to streamline your processes to improve performance.
- Implement new technology
One way to improve business operations is to implement new technology. There are a number of different software programs that can help you automate your processes. This not only makes your life easier, but also helps you to save money through lower labor costs. For example, you might want to consider investing in an inventory management system or a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
- Train your employees
Another way to improve business operations is to train your employees. Employee morale and performance increases when they feel like they are part of a team and are contributing to the company’s success.
Make sure that everyone understands your company’s goals and objectives and knows how to use the new technology that you’ve implemented. Provide ongoing training so that your employees are always up to date on the latest changes.
- Monitor your progress
The final step is to monitor your progress. Make sure to track your KPIs and customer feedback so that you can see how your company is doing. Then adjust your plans as needed so that you can continue improving business operations.
How business operations differ by industry
The way that business operations are run can vary depending on the industry. That’s because different industries will have different types of customers, products, and services. Here are some examples of how business operations might differ between industries:
- Manufacturing – In this segment business operations might include things like raw materials management, production planning, quality control, and shipping and logistics.
- Retail Business – Whether running an online store or brick-and-mortar, business operations might consist of inventory management, customer service, and marketing.
- Technology – In the technology industry, business operations may include product development, customer support, and sales.
- Healthcare – In healthcare, business operations can feature things like patient care, billing, and insurance.
- Food and beverage – When it comes to food and beverage, procurement, food safety, and production may be part of business operations.
- Service – In the service industry, business operations might include human resources, customer service, and accounting.
The way that business operations are run can also vary depending on the size of the company. For example, a small business might create a simplified version, while a large enterprise might have a more complex set of business operations.
Businesses need to have a well-thought-out and cohesive business operations strategy not only to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace, but also as a cost savings measure.
By taking the time to understand your goals, analyze your processes, and implement new technology, you can take your business operations to the next level. Your employees will be better equipped to handle the day-to-day tasks, and your customers will be more satisfied with the overall experience.
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