Why a Clear SOW is a Key to Success

October 9, 2019 Chris Tataris

In any market, generating sales is crucial for any organization, generating sales is an ongoing and mandatory task that requires balancing a number of different planning factors. The pressure on a sales team to meet quotas, outpace the competition, and drive growth can sometimes mean communication with a customer gets lost in the effort to score a win. Clear communication throughout the sales process should always be a priority, and a thorough statement of work is a central component in building a strong relationship with a customer.  

Handshake at an SOW meeting

Blatant, and not-so-blatant, fabrications of what is promised can cause a potential project catastrophe. An interesting way to think of it is through this equation:  

Accurate and honest sales + explicit SOW deliverables + no surprises for the delivery and implementation team = a happy customer 

Following this formula increases your chances of earning customer loyalty, which in turn increases the chance that a customer will provide a positive reference to other businesses. Not following the formula runs the risk of ruining your company’s reputation, along with future potential business.  
A well-documented and honest close is the highest priority in the sales cycle for ending up with a loyal and happy customer base. Documenting all needs to pass along to the delivery team is key. Outlining the timeline and the resources required for the delivery team to complete the requirements must be explicitly stated along with each area the delivery team is to cover and complete. 
A properly trained sales team is also important because sales is the first line of contact, and the ability to answer basic technical questions at first glance is important. Knowing the product or service is not only a first line of defense for the delivery team once the SOW is signed, but the sales team will also be able to speak with a higher level of confidence. A third benefit is an improvement in the sales team’s ability to create future add-ons to keep the revenue flowing. The ultimate result is stronger relationship building and customer loyalty. All of this relates to a clear SOW by knowing what the delivery and implementation teams are capable of delivering allowing no room for surprises. The more knowledge the sales team has the better.  

Managers representing the delivery team should make a first pass at creating the SOW and share it with the potential customer. Revisions should be made based on feedback from their managements and nothing should be signed until both parties involved are in agreement. An explicit statement of work avoids any gray areas and is imperative for a smooth transition to delivery and implementation. This can only happen if the executed deal has all expectations clearly designated. There should be no room for interpretation once an SOW is signed. Although any gray areas can sometimes benefit either party, typically it’s a detriment.  
It may sound daunting to completely list out all the deliverable requirements, but the benefit is that this allows the delivery team to be properly staffed and create an appropriate timeline. There may be a time when the customer wants too many things to deliver in the timeline. This can be turned into a positive by loosening needs being forced into the current timeline by creating multiple phases and multiple sales deals. Again, this results in additional future revenue.  
A project manager will appreciate the strong starting point and the ability to delegate and manage any project.  
Collaboration among various members in the delivery and implementation team is also improved when no gray area exists from the executed SOW. When the delivery team has everything needed at the start, this allows for full transparency for status updates and meeting deadlines. When the delivery team can meet all deadlines and there are no surprise requirements, not only will the delivery managers be pleased, but all stakeholders will be happy as well.  
To reiterate, having an explicit and clean statement of work can exponentially have a lasting positive on your company. The only true way of having a concrete statement of work is to have the sales team aware of what the product or service is capable of providing to the customer. Empowering the sales team with all the necessary knowledge will ensure success for incoming business and will allow the stage to be set for a smooth transition to the delivery team by way of a quality statement of work.  

Ready to set your delivery team for success? Get in touch.

About the Author

Chris Tataris

Chris Tataris is a Business Analyst within Appirio's FinancialForce practice. His Salesforce experience ranges across businesses of all sizes. Chris specializes in working with clients to ensure they're getting the most value out of their FinancialForce PSA solution. He's also a huge European soccer fan.

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