How Shipwell Operates Sales with Kara Gillilan Murphy, Head of Sales Operations

Kara Murphy, head of sales operations at Shipwell, joins the Sales Operations Demystified podcast to share her journey from software development to sales ops, the perks of having a small ops team, and their plan for operations post-pandemic.

Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operation Demystified here.

The trio of technology, sales, and customer service

Kara started her career as a developer at eLoyalty (a tele tech company), before moving to process improvement and change management. 

Kara believes that customer satisfaction creates loyalty. Her initial experience in customer satisfaction has helped her in sales operations. 

Kara’s technical background, sales experience, and passion for customer satisfaction make her the perfect fit for sales operations process management and improvement.

“To smoothen up operations, sales ops personnel should be thrilled with the change.” 

Sales ops personnel’s primary focus should be on the business prospects. Kara suggests that you should look in your operations from the perspective of the customers by putting yourself in their shoes. This allows you to help the sales teams to provide better service. 

Make teams agile rather than adding up headcounts.

At Shipwell, Kara is the only person working in sales ops where she leads and manages a sales team consisting of 8 people. 

Before COVID, the team was more than twice the size it is now. Sadly, as a result of the pandemic, they had to downsize. 

“Downsizing the teams doesn’t always mean cutting back on resources but making them more agile, where everyone works in perfect sync with each other.” 

Transformation to a cloud-based approach 

One of the biggest challenges in shifting to remote work is maintaining communication between teams. 

It’s important to transform the technical aspects of management to a cloud-based model; the systems should be in place to work remotely. 

Shipwell’s proactive, agile and cloud-based approach helped them with a smooth transition from a physical to a remote working model. 

“During COVID, the biggest issue was the downturn in morale and maintaining the workplace culture while working remotely.”

How to be productive in the new normal 

Allow employees to WFA & WFH: With the pandemic and social distancing, it’s wise to allow employees to work from anywhere they can. This is attractive for future hires because they are no longer constrained by geography and the company itself can scout the best talent even from other countries.

Evaluate meetings productivity: Try for shorter daily meetings while working remotely so that you can get more time to work. 

The second half of 2020 was slow, but several businesses made a fortune during this period such as Amazon. This is mostly down to the nature of their business or technological advancements/innovations they’ve made. 

The core of Shipwell’s solution is to provide supply chain solutions and visibility to its customers. Since supply chains were severely affected by the pandemic, Shipwell gained new customers because more businesses wanted to know the best way to sustain their supply chains. 

Qualitative and quantitative forecasting 

For efficient forecasting, start with quantitative data like tracking the number of deals, expected revenue, and the growth metrics from previous trends. 

Alongside this, take into consideration qualitative data like feedback assessments from the sales teams on how they feel about a deal, what are the chances for a deal to be productive, and how responsive the customer is. 

Kara regularly follows up with the team to make sure they are entering the data correctly and monitoring it for any changes and modifications.

#1 sales metric: conversion rate

For Kara, it has to be the conversion rate. She focuses most of her attention on it and feels it is a reliable metric to track. She also likes to focus on the smaller conversion level, for example, the rate from demo to close or opportunity creation to close. As her team is small and tightly knit, she doesn’t focus on individual conversion rates for each rep but says she would do so if the team expanded.

During uncertain times, like the ongoing pandemic, Kara likes to pair that with keeping an eye on the leads coming in and how fast things transition from one stage to another. She feels this also gives a good indicator of how the business is running.

Who in the sales ops world would Kara like to take out for lunch?

Kara feels that due to her unique journey from software developer to sales ops manager, she doesn’t know many people in the sales ops world and couldn’t pick a specific person.

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