More and more SaaS companies are implementing a deal desk into their sales process. But what does this function do, and why are they important for revenue growth?

We break it down in this article, by covering:

What is a deal desk?

A deal desk team helps to manage complex sales deals by liaising across departments such as sales, finance, and legal to ensure that unusual or complex contracts are approved and managed promptly.

These teams are more prevalent in the B2B SaaS industry but can be used to push through deals through red tape at any organization. 

Their main focus is getting approval for non-standard deals and communicating the outcomes to sales reps. This allows sellers to keep selling while the deal desk navigates the internal approval process on their behalf.

Who does the deal desk team report to?

Who the deal desk team reports to depends on how your organization is structured. Sometimes, the function is within the sales operations team, so may report to the VP of Sales. When the deal desk is a function of revenue operations, they’ll more likely report to the VP of Revenue Operations or Chief Revenue Officer.

When starting out, the deal desk can be comprised of revenue operations team members who have other responsibilities on top of their contract approval work. Some of these responsibilities may include CRM administration, compensation plan design, and analytics.

Once the workload becomes too much for the RevOps team to manage, a separate deal desk function may be brought in to maintain efficiency.

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What are the responsibilities of a deal desk?

So what does a Deal Desk Analyst actually do?

The key responsibilities of a deal desk function are:

  • Managing contract exceptions. Unusual requests, non-traditional deals, and special discounts will need to be reviewed individually, and it’s the deal desk’s job to manage that process.
  • Documenting the approval process. As well as managing the approval process, the analyst should also document the approval process for sales rep visibility.
  • Reviewing contracts. Contracts that make their way to the deal desk should be checked for accuracy, completeness, and unusual changes.
  • Updating systems. When deals are approved, the function will check that the correct contract information is in your CRM, and make those updates.
  • Navigating the internal approval process. Depending on the deal’s complexity, multiple stakeholders may need to approve the contract; the deal desk acts as the middleman to get approval.
  • Documenting company policies. Some discounts are a strict no-go, so the deal desk works to document and standardize company policy on discounts, policy terms, and more.
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When does your organization need a deal desk?

Not sure if your organization requires a deal desk yet? Let’s take a look at some of the common indicators that your sales organization needs a little extra support.

Deal complexity

As your deals increase in complexity, your sales team are more likely to run into challenges that a deal desk function could fix. 

What constitutes complexity? Having multiple products or services, customization options, bundles, deals, or long sales cycles can all play a role in creating complex selling situations. 

If you’re seeing a lag in the approval process that’s impacting your win rate, it might be time to call in reinforcements.

Deal volume

Lots of salespeople equals lots of deals, which equals lots of revenue, right?

Well, if you have a large sales team that sends contracts through only a few managers, your organization might encounter a significant bottleneck. This can end up extending your sales cycle considerably, and even losing business along the way.

Not all deals are created equal, your deal desk team can help sellers prioritize high-value deals that are most likely to close, so you stop missing out on those key deals.

Cross-functional approvals

If all the unusual deals just go through a sales manager before being approved, there might not be an issue (assuming your deal volume isn’t too high). The real issue is when deals require sign-off from multiple departments. 

Chasing legal, product, and finance for a deal approval can take time away from sellers talking to their clients, meaning your org could be losing out on customers. 

To save your sales team the headache, a deal desk can manage all of those processes and chase up key stakeholders to help sellers move their deals forward.

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Slow approval process

You might’ve noticed a common theme here… When the approval process starts to slow down significantly in your organization, it’s time to add a deal desk function to your revenue team.

Thoughts from RevOps pros

Don’t just take our word for it – here’s what our community of revenue operations pros had to say: 

“If you need to configure, price, and quote (CPQ), you've got more open opportunities than capacity, and/or your velocity bottleneck is deal creation, you probably need someone at least part-time as deal desk.”

- Patrick Reed, Revenue Systems Administrator at Affinity.

“We implemented one because our sales reps often didn't consider (or even know that they should consider) various factors, such as annual price increases, auto-renewals, and proposal expires after X days. We have big strategic deals (12-18 months to close) so all our pricing is custom.”

- Christie Simpson, Director of Sales Operations at HealthEdge.

Importance of a deal desk

A deal desk function is important in many ways including: 

🏃‍♂️ Close deals faster. A deal desk function can help your sales team close deals quicker by pushing through red tape and gaining approval from the appropriate stakeholders.

💡 Provide sales reps with more insights. Your desk can work closely with your sales reps to help them understand your company’s policy on discounting, contract length, and more. Allowing more deals to be approved with less fuss. 

✨ Improve customer experience. Getting their contracts approved quickly is also beneficial to your customers who want to get started using your product or service.

📈 Optimize revenue streams. Identify opportunities for upsell and cross-sell, to generate more revenue and support your customers.

⚠️ Manage risk effectively. Ensure legal terms are met, pricing is right, and the contract terms are favorable to reduce risk in complex deals.

Overall, deal desk implementation leads to revenue growth. 

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Optimizing your deal desk processes

Looking to implement a deal desk in your organization? Here are some best practices to ensure your deal desk team can live up to their potential and supercharge your revenue cycle.

Standardize process

By developing a consistent process for deal approvals and designing templates for contracts and proposals you can reduce the time to approval and allow your deal desk team to work more efficiently.

When standard processes are in play, your contract system can run smoothly as everyone knows what the next step is, and blockers can be planned for ahead of time.

Utilize tools

Deal desk software is a lifesaver for your team. This system can automate tasks, track deal progress, and store documentation. Automation is a huge time-save for any RevOps function as it reduces manual work and allows your team to focus on the tasks that really matter.

Tools can also help to streamline the deal desk workflow and keep all the information in one place for easy reference.

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Set guidelines

Company guidelines for deal approvals can speed up the process as contracts that violate the policy can instantly be rejected, and sales can learn what’s likely to be accepted before sending it to the deal desk. This will reduce back-and-forth discussions when trying to approve contracts. 

Guidelines can also help to avoid the need for cross-departmental approval if the deal desk team is happy the contract meets requirements.

Improve communication

What’s the key to aligning teams? Communication.

Improving communication between your sales and contract management functions will increase collaboration and help more deals get to the finish line. Improving communication between the deal desk team and legal, product, and finance can also help to speed up the approval process.

Utilizing tools to encourage easy real-time and asynchronous communication and file sharing can also help to align these cross-functional teams. 

Train your team

Providing continuous training to your sales and deal desk teams can help them close and approve deals more effectively. There are many approaches to training your teams, in particular, having easy access to product information and policy documentation can streamline the selling process.

Monitor KPIs

Monitoring performance is crucial for understanding how your deal desk is performing. If they’re underperforming it might be time to allocate more resources to the team to keep your deals flowing.

Some metrics to track include:

  • Deal cycle time
  • Average deal size
  • Approval time

Identifying bottlenecks early can help prevent lost revenue down the pipeline.

Final thoughts

A desk team can speed up your sales pipeline by allowing deals to be approved fast, without sacrificing quality. Whether your team starts out part-time under RevOps or is its own function from the get-go, one thing is clear: when contract approval becomes a bottleneck, it’s time to call in reinforcements.

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