What is a deal desk? A modern deal desk definition for 2022

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by Mohammed Shehu

You probably already know how complex B2B sales can get.

We’re not just talking about configuring pricing to ensure that your sales team and the customer get value out of the sale. There are other elements to consider, such as the tools you’ll need, the contract terms you’ll set up, and the sheer number of people involved (hello Sales Operations, Finance, & Customer Success 👋🏼).

Without a central way to manage all this sales activity, you might experience lost deals, frustrated customers, leaky contracts, and missed sales KPIs. What’s more, the critical learnings from each deal (whether won or lost) may fail to filter down to your sales team due to siloed activities and misaligned reporting.

Let’s not even get into churn and retention - two metrics that underpin much of the growth trajectory of many B2B businesses. When customers are dissatisfied and churning at record rates, it might be a sign that you’re overpromising things during the sales process or not aligning your product’s capabilities to your prospect’s needs.

Reducing this sales cycle complexity is vital for any B2B sales manager, and one of the best ways to do that is to set up a dedicated function to handle complex sales.

Enter the deal desk.

What is a deal desk, and how does it improve sales efficiency?

We define a deal desk as a managed, centralized, cross-functional team that facilitates complex, high-value deals through the pipeline.

There are several distinct parts to this definition, so let’s break them down a little.

A deal desk is managed

Like other teams or divisions within a sales organization, a deal desk is a managed function - usually encompassing a deal desk manager, a deal desk analyst, or, in large enough companies, even a VP of Deal Desk.

These individuals work together to gather and leverage information to lead to more favorable deal terms for both the buyer and seller. Specific traits make these functions much more effective, so check out our post on what previous experience to look for in a deal desk manager and how to write a good job description.

A deal desk is centralized

The deal desk’s main selling point is that it gives you centralized visibility into non standard deals. Silos hamper sales efficiency, so central visibility prevents opportunity leaks and lost deals.

There are many ways to implement this centralization. Using a CMS is one option, although it requires manual updates to keep your records straight. Project management boards are another option - but unless you’ve got CMS integration activated, your deals won’t get synced as fast or as often as you might like.

Multiple Excel spreadsheets are another - but we wouldn’t recommend this option as it can add complexity instead of reducing it. We’re biased, so we believe that a dedicated deal desk platform that syncs to both your CMS *and* your daily communication tool - like Momentum does - is your best option.

A deal desk is cross-functional

In simple B2B deals, you only need one or two reps from both sides to attain deal closure. A sales rep or account executive from the sell-side org would liaise with the buyer’s reps, and the whole thing gets wrapped up over an average sales cycle.

That’s a lot harder to pull off with complex, non standard sales deals.

For starters, distributed teams mean distributed expertise, which has implications for the deal approval process. In pre-pandemic times, getting a budget approval was as simple as walking over to the senior director or CFO’s desk and requesting a review of new deal terms.

However, in today’s remote working world, these multiple departments can be spread out across cities, states, or countries. It becomes more important to leverage tools that already bring everyone together - like Slack - to manage deal desk activity and drive revenue growth.

A deal desk facilitates high-value deals

Simple deals don’t need much firepower to conclude. There’s usually already a well-worn sales process to handle objections and configure pricing correctly.

But with high-value deals, there’s a lot more at stake. And because complex deals generally don’t follow a standard deal configuration process, it’s important to tap as many colleagues as needed to ensure everything goes well.

This involves everyone driving revenue operations, from sales reps and sales leadership to the help desk. The right tools let you avail these playbooks - and their attendant sales enablement assets - for easier on-the-go access by your sales team.

The benefits of implementing a deal desk function

Based on the above definition, we can tease out the key benefits of adding a deal desk function to your sales org. These include:

  1. Faster, more efficient sales cycles
  2. Better deal management and sales performance
  3. Greater visibility into the sales process
  4. Easier revenue forecasting across quarters
  5. Faster progress toward more unified contract templates

How to set up a winning deal desk

The formula for deal desk success contains many of the same sales, marketing, or customer success elements. These include defining workflows and sales systems, agreeing on KPIs, adopting a customer-centric approach, and empowering your deal desk with the right tools and training.

#1 Define deal desk workflows and responsibilities

Your deal desk will vary from others in your industry, and it’s essential to clearly define what your deal desk roles and duties will be, how they will move deals along from one milestone to the next, and what the expectations of each stakeholder are.

#2 Agree on your deal desk KPIs

Define which metrics you’ll use to determine deal desk success over the current or next sales period. For example, will you optimize for your speed to close rate? ARR expansion rate? Reducing the number of amendments needed? Your multi-product attach rate?

Getting clear on your north star helps you align your team with your customers’ goals.

#3 Adopt a customer-centric approach

When you are deeply aligned with your customer’s needs and jobs to be done, it’s easier to craft a deal structure that both of you will be happy with.

Know what you’re willing to concede during negotiations and what you’re prepared to push back on, and involve as many stakeholders as needed to ensure a fair contract.

#4 Empower your deal desk with the right tools and training

Equipping your team with the right tools makes deal desk operations run more smoothly. These tools should sync the data they need faster and more often, streamline communication between all parties, and provide step-by-step playbooks for how to navigate each complex deal.

Tools like Momentum are designed to accomplish all of this right within Slack - so your deal desk team doesn’t have to switch back and forth between workflows.

Understand the definition of a deal desk

Understanding the role of a deal desk function helps you improve the closed-won rate of large, complex deals. While the concept of a deal desk is not new, our modern definition lays out a concrete overview of the strategy, processes, and people required to make it a success.

We’ve fleshed out this concept a bit more in other posts on our blog, so grab a mug of your favorite drink and dive deeper into:

  • How to hire a deal desk manager (link)
  • How to improve your sales cycle efficiency (link)
  • How to structure and optimize your deal desk (link)

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