Sales Operations Decoded: What It Is, Why It Is Important, and How To Do It Properly

Define Sales Operations

There are a number of tasks that managers need to do in order for salespeople to succeed. This includes implementing training programs, using software tools and engagement techniques such as regular communication with the team.

Sales operations help to make sure that there is a system in place for selling. This department uses data and technology, as well as best practices, to be successful.

The sales operations department has become a key part of the success in many companies, and is especially important for big businesses. This change happened because it impacts both productivity (producing more) and efficiency (doing better work).


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:Ā 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. šŸ˜€

What Are the Essential Roles of a Sales Operations Team?

Sales Ops is now more than just measuring sales. They also have other sales operations tasks such as providing the data and insight that will help any company grow.

There are many different ways to run a sales ops department, but in most cases they will all have some of the same functions.

Strategy

When I first began hiring salespeople, the “sales ops” team was just a small group of people who did analysis and forecasting. However, as businesses became more data-driven in their marketing strategies, this department has grown to do much more than that.

  • Sales Process Optimization
  • Performance Metrics Analyses
  • I learned that salespeople are not just motivated by pay, and developed a program of incentives to motivate them.
  • Evaluating the Needs of Sales Teams
  • Sales people, like any other profession need to constantly learn and develop their sales operations skills. I can’t just assume that because someone is a salesperson they will automatically know how to sell.
  • Selecting the right technology tools for your sales team is a crucial step in getting them on board.
  • In sales, it is important to grow the company’s territory by assigning an appropriate number of salespeople.

Sales Operations

Professionals take on the sales operations tasks that are not core to selling, like administrative and operational work. This frees up sellers to focus more of their time on what they do best: selling.

  • Companies like Salesforce are always looking for talented employees. They offer a variety of training and development programs to help new hires learn the ropes, including webinars with industry experts.
  • I learned that in order to motivate my salespeople, I needed a comprehensive compensation and incentives program.
  • Once I finally realized that people are not motivated by money alone, I created a sales territory map to distribute the account load among my team. This helped each person feel like they had an equal responsibility for all of our customers.
  • I’ve found that it’s important to maintain good communication and collaboration with your employees.
  • Contract Lifecycle Management

Process and Performance

Sales operations was created to improve sales performance. To do this, they help streamline processes and speed up the process so that sellers can close more deals.

The most important job of a sales operations analyst is to figure out the best way for your company’s products or services to be sold. They are not just there crunch numbers.

  • When determining what metrics to measure, it is important to take into account the culture of your company and focus on both short-term objectives as well as long-term goals.
  • Training and Development is an integral part of the hiring process.
  • Optimization and Implementation of Sales Process Workflows Sales Activities Lead Generation Conversion Rates
  • Workflows
  • Sales Activities
  • Lead Generation
  • Conversion Rates
  • It’s important to implement a framework and methodology for salespeople, because it will make their jobs easier.
  • Optimization of Sales Tools, Knowledge Base and other Assets CRM Automation Data Analytics Contract Management Forms and Templates Client Engagement & Outreach
  • CRM
  • Automation
  • Data Analytics
  • Contract Management
  • Forms and Templates
  • Client Engagement & Outreach

Technology Adoption and Optimization

Sales teams today are now leveraging big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve performance. But because these tools can be distracting for sales reps, it is important that the Sales Operations team owns this stack.

As the head of Sales Ops, here are some things you should consider when it comes to tech.

  • I use a variety of technologies, but I found that they weren’t really cohesive.
  • CRM is a platform that helps with customer service, communications and many other things.
  • Business Intelligence Services
  • Data Analytics Software
  • Communication is the heart of any company. The use of tools like Slack, Skype and Google Hangouts can make or break a business.
  • Content Sharing and Management
  • Contract Lifecycle Management
  • Email Automation
  • Performance management software is a great way to keep track of performance and motivate employees.

The Structure of an Agile Sales Operations Unit

It is impossible to determine the best organizational structure for sales ops because there are so many different ways that companies can set up their departments. Even then, you can use templates and sales operations model to figure out how your company should be structured.

Matt Cameron, a managing partner at Sales Ops Central and agile in sales operations, has written an excellent guide on how to build a sales ops unit for fast-growing companies.

In the guide, Matt explained that there are different stages of growth where companies should hire their sales operations people. He also outlined what these positions entail and how they might be structured.

According to his matrix, companies can hire a number of tech-savvy staff and analysts if they have less than one million dollars in ARR.

  • Manage the CRM.
  • Use reports to analyze and generate data.
  • Manage compensation.

The company should only hire a Sales Effectiveness Manager when ARR consistently exceeds $1 million, who will oversee talent on-boarding and training.

If a company is consistently reaching over $10 million in ARR, then they might create a new position for Sales OpsDirector.

sales operations

I also need to assign the Sales Ops team with these responsibilities:

  • The strategy for getting a product to market is just as important, if not more so than the production of said product.
  • I have come to realize that I need a different type of sales motivation, so I’ve been testing my plan with various rewards.
  • Deals desk
  • Territory design
  • Compensation plan
  • Forecasting
  • Sales process enforcement

Sales Ops Manager vs Typical Sales Manager

A sales ops unit does not only help a manager meet their targets, but also helps optimize the talent pool under that managers care.

A sales ops manager’s job is to take on many of the administrative and field sales operations tasks that are required for a successful sales organization.

This way, the sales manager can focus on providing guidance and direction to their sellers. They are able to make decisions about where future growth will come from based off of strategic planning.

There are a number of different areas in which sales operations managers can take charge, but the level to which they have control over these processes will depend on organizational maturity.

  • To generate accurate data and forecasts, we need to use a predictive analytics tool.
  • Train and recruit sales staff
  • I now focus on providing my salespeople with the content and knowledge base management they need to be successful.
  • The life cycle of a customer contract can be difficult to navigate and may require many different departments. For example, the sales department might send out contracts for signature while accounting prepares an invoice.
  • I have been experimenting with new ways to motivate my sales team. I am trying a variety of incentive programs that could include things like commissions, bonuses and performance-based pay.
  • I made the mistake of thinking that people would be motivated by high base pay and lucrative commissions. The problem is, they are not just driven by money.
  • Maintain, coordinate and optimize the company’s technology stack which includes CRM.

The Sales Operations Process

One of the most important parts of a sales team is having a functional Sales Operations Unit that implements and executes an efficient, guiding process for the entire company.

When the road ahead is hazy or a new challenge suddenly emerges, it’s helpful to have established processes as templates and reference points for guidance.

For a sales organization that is just starting out, the first gateway for sales ops may come before or after an initial meeting with a customer. It could also be in the structural and functional makeup of how they operate.

The sales operations team can help the sales leader by handling sales operations tasks such as:

  • Administrative tasks
  • Technical functions
  • Strategic responsibilities.

Many mature organizations have the sales operations department handle administrative and technical tasks, while they are tasked with analytics to support their leaders in decision-making.

Here are some ways that sales operations can make a big difference:

  • The last step in the CRM process is to administer and optimize.
  • I also realized that there were other important technologies in the business world and not just sales technology. I had to start integrating and synchronizing all of these different tools.
  • We have found that to optimize the sales process, it is important to not only implement best practices but also find out what specific obstacles are in our way.
  • When I first began hiring salespeople, I just assumed pay along with commissions and bonuses would be enough sales motivation. However, people are not just motivated by pay.
  • Automation is changing the sales landscape, with robots taking over tasks that are not directly related to selling.
  • Managers of knowledge bases and content need to keep track of all the information that is generated by employees.
  • One of the most important parts of being a manager is understanding what motivates people. Its not just about giving them high base pay and lucrative commissions.

Standard Sales Operations Metrics & KPIs

Different teams and organizations have different preferences for what they think are the most important metrics. For sales operations, these key metrics provide insight into how to improve win rates as well as help them find areas where there can still be improvement.

Here are some of the metrics that many companies use to evaluate past performance and determine how to do better in the future:

The Salesforce Quota Achievement Rate is the percentage of salespeople who have achieved 100% of their quota in a given period.

The average win rate is the percentage of closed deals out of all won and lost deals.

The average length of time it takes to close a deal is called the Average Sales Cycle Length.

Deal size is the average value of deals at any given point in time.

When I hire salespeople, the number one thing that is important to me is how much time they spend selling and not other tasks such as training or administrative work. 

Lead Response Time is the time it takes before a lead responds positively to a pitch or call-to-action.

The Weighted Pipeline Value is a calculation that takes into account the value of each customer and their respective probability to buy. This way, we can make accurate forecasts on whether or not our business will be profitable in the future.

Pipeline Efficiency is a measure of how well sellers are able to maintain their pipelines.

Forecast Accuracy calculates the percentage of error between forecasted and actual results.

Number of Prospect Meetings per Period is a measure that compares the number of meetings individual sellers were able to set in a given period. The average for this metric was five, but some people have been successful with as few as two.

Sales Enablement vs Sales Operations

Sales operations and sales enablement are not the same thing. They do have similarities, but they also share many goals in common that improve a company’s performance.

Sales operations will focus on the entire organization and all of its structures, processes, human resources (HR), and technologies. Meanwhile sales enablement will only concern itself with sellers’ efficiencyperformance as well as customer satisfaction.

In this context, sales enablement can be seen as a subset of the broader concept of “sales operations” which has existed for longer.

Many companies run their sales enablement unit under the umbrella of a department called “sales ops.” This is not always the case, however. Some companies have two departments: one for Sales Ops and another for Enablement.

In the modern day, sales operations handles all of the operational aspects that are required to be successful in a company. This includes planning territory assignments and managing transactions among other things.

In contrast, sales enablement focuses on aspects that directly impact the performance of sellers. These include staff training, communication with customers and other departments in a company as well as process efficiencies.

Best Practices in Sales Operations

Sales operations has emerged as a unit that helps bring system, science and best practices to the world of sales.

However, even though sales operations has become an integral part of the company’s business sales operations model, variations in terms of structure and role exist across businesses. For example, one way to run a sales ops team may be perfect for Company A but not so much for Company B.

The way that sales operations are structured varies depending on the company’s culture, scale, target markets and level of maturity.

A study by SAVO Group has revealed some best practices for sales operations in mature enterprises. One of their points is that many companies struggle with using appropriate measurement and reporting mechanisms to make decisions about the effectiveness of different marketing strategies.

The article states that sales ops and the leaders of a company should work together to form plans. Sales Ops provides input on strategy while the leader gives their own experience from being in the field, market empathy, and domain knowledge.

  • I was able to accurately predict the performance of my employees, which meant I could plan for their future success.
  • I need to identify and measure my KPI’s
  • The article goes into detail about how to allocate and assign accounts in a sales territory.
  • When I began hiring salespeople, it took me a while to understand that there is more than just pay. The evaluation of processes and the structure of the team are important too.
  • When it comes to compensation, there are many different ways of structuring the plan. The important thing is that you find a sustainable system for your company and one that makes sense.
  • The evaluation of marketing strategies and the effectiveness in how they are executed is important for businesses.

In addition to ensuring that salespeople are getting paid well, a company’s Sales Operations team can make it easier for them to work with other departments in order to help meet the goals of their overall strategy. Some ways they do this is by owning these processes: -Building and executing on an onboarding process -Managing any issues related – such as performance reviews or compensation management

  • Recruitment and onboarding
  • Product training
  • Sales methodology
  • Market training

Key Insight #3 – Sales operations can be a powerful tool for managing the following functions:

  • Internal communications
  • Communications that will be broadcast externally should always go through a review process before they are released.
  • Process improvements
  • Automation is great for anything that can be done with a computer or app, but it doesn’t work on tasks which require personal attention.
  • CRM is only one of the many tools that are used in this industry.

Sales operations can work with marketing to get a better understanding of the brand and what they should be saying. Sales ops hold data on customer behavior, so if there is any question about how customers would react in certain situations or why people buy one product over another, it’s easier for them to make educated guesses.

  • Funnel structure development
  • Content development

What Is the Role of a Sales Operations Manager?

A sales operations manager’s job is to supervise a team of specialists, set goals and KPIs for the company, create revenue forecasts that are on track with business needs, and help optimize the sales process. This requires strong leadership skills.

1. Getting Accurate Visibility of the Sales Team Performance

Managers need to track and measure the performance of their team. This includes individual goals for each member, as well as KPIs specific to sales operations.

Setting individual goals for each member is vital, but you also need to set team-wide goals in order to track performance and identify areas that need improvement. If you want to manage the whole team’s progress effectively, there are three things you should do:

  • A working sales process
  • A good CRM
  • As a manager, I found that it was important to keep track of the sales reps so they could get feedback on their performance.

2. Be Responsible for the Sales Funnel

The responsibility of the sales operations manager is to oversee and maintain a smooth process for all new contacts. This means that they should make sure their staff knows how to handle every type of lead or contact.

To see how each stage of the sales funnel is working, you need to measure conversion rates and analyze essential data. From this analysis, you can make recommendations on what changes are needed in order to improve velocity.

3. Optimizing the Sales Process

When it comes to sales, a Sales Operations Manager should always be checking and optimizing the process. You probably already have a well-oiled system in place for your organization but do you know if there are any kinks that need fixing?

A sales manager can identify and resolve any problems with your current system. They will also offer solutions to improve the process, making it more effective.

4. Selecting and Managing Sales Automation Tools

As a sales operations manager, you are responsible for providing the technology that will allow your team to do their job. This includes tools and capabilities like CRM systems or an integrated voice response system.

A manager should also evaluate if the organization is getting the most out of their existing tools. They need to make sure that they are using them correctly and not wasting time on inefficient processes.

5. Responsible for Sales Forecasting

Every rep on your team is probably focused on meeting their individual goals. However, its important to make sure that they understand the company’s broader goal as well. With accurate forecasting, you can tell how each person is performing and what needs improvement.

6. Choosing and Maintaining Sales Tools

The right CRM will not only keep your team organized, but it can also help them work together. The best systems are transparent and the reps trust their data to be accurate.

7. Leading Sales Operations Professionals

Large and complex organizations should have a team of specialists to deal with all the different parts that go into sales operations. The most effective way is for each person on this large, expert-level team to focus their time in one area of expertise.

What Department is Sales Operations?

The sales operations department is responsible for the back-end work of a company’s sales team.

The sales operations department has many responsibilities, including creating and sustaining growth. They also oversee various tasks such as training staff on how to sell a product, handling leads for the company’s marketing team, optimizing the process of selling products from start to finish by making sure that everything is running smoothly., and dealing with data.

How Do You Expand Sales Operations?

The 5 steps to developing a sales operations department are as follows: 1. Create an organization chart for the department, defining all of its roles and responsibilities 2. Assign people with skills that match those needed in each roleresponsibility 3. Select employees who have experience or expertise appropriate for the company’s goals and objectives, not just because they’re qualified candidates from within your own team 4. Develop a written job description tailored specifically to this position you need filled – be specific about what is expected of them on day one at work (don’t make it too long) so there won’t be any surprises later down the line; outline expectations such as hours per week required, salary range desired etc., deadlines given or asked by supervisor(s), how many other co-workers will also share these same duties if applicable etc.

1. Define Your Sales Ops Process

The next step is to figure out how your sales team will work. You need to decide what tasks they are responsible for and when these should be completed.

The sales operations team can help you with the digital asset and knowledge management, optimizing your process for closing deals, and even improving how we provide our reports. They also support developing a compensation strategy that best fits what is needed.

2. Agree on Sales Ops KPIs

Once you have a clear understanding of what the sales operations process will look like, its time to decide on KPIs. Some good ones include average deal size, lead response time and accuracy in forecasting.

3. Structure of Your Team

Here are some of the types of people you should consider hiring in your organization:

  • Sales effectiveness manager
  • Technical operations advisor
  • Sales operations analyst

4. Sales Operations Training

It is important to have a team assembled and trained so that they can do their jobs well. Proper training also inspires the employees with motivation, which will help them overcome challenges.

5. Sales Operations Tools

Providing your team with the right tools and software is essential to their success. This will also ensure that sales ops results are accurate.

What Are the Constituents of Sales Operations?

A successful sales operations team needs to have the following five components: 1. A clear understanding of what your company is selling and how it will help customers 2. An accurate inventory that you can rely on when a customer calls in or visits for assistance with an orderinquiry 3. Communication between all departments within the organization-between marketing, finance, product development teams etc.

1. Data Management

Having an updated database is vital to success in sales. It will help you make better decisions because you have all the data available at your fingertips.

2. Analytics and Reporting

Data will help you know what your company is doing well and where it’s not, as well as the opportunities for success. Analytics allow businesses to evaluate successes and losses which can then be used in decision making.

3. Forecasting

Forecasting will help you to save money or spend less by planning ahead for what your sales might be in the next quarter. Without proper forecasting, an organization can either overspend and lose profit margin on its products or underspend which could lead to lost opportunities because of missed sales.

4. Pricing and Proposal Operations

When selling, it is important to have a good proposal and pricing guidelines. The proposal should be accurate and informative for the sales team so they can better sell your product or service.

5. Accountability

Accountability is one of the best ways to keep sales reps motivated. A manager can help with this by setting goals and monitoring progress, leading to better performance from the entire team.

4 Essential Points in Running a Sales Operations Team

Running a sales operations team can be difficult, but there are ways to make it easier. The following is an overview of some best practices:

1. Develop a Formal Mission for the Team

A lack of clear purpose for sales operations will not only hurt the company but it may also be doing harm to its employees. When there is no reason behind what you do, then your work becomes pointless and unfulfilling.

When you create a sales operations team, make sure to define the mission and objectives so that they can guide their decision-making in your organization. A well defined mission will influence the teams strategy and functions.

2. Differentiate Sales operations and Sales Enablement Responsibilities

The roles of sales enablement and operations are similar, which can lead to confusion about who is responsible for what.

The best way to avoid this is by clearly defining the roles of each team and their responsibilities. This will allow them to work together more effectively for the betterment of your sales department.

3. Come Up With Best Practices and Scalable Processes

One of the contributions that sales operations in a company can make is to manage and scale processes. This should be where best practices are developed, implemented, and monitored.

Companies should make sure that they document, evaluate and communicate best practices in order to ensure consistency.

4. Ensure Customer Success and Retention

In order to have a successful sales operation, you need not only help your reps get the best leads but also retain current customers.

Sales operations teams are more valuable for customer retention because they have extensive knowledge of the company’s customers. They can be relied on to help during price conflicts and tricky negotiations.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:Ā 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. šŸ˜€
Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? Iā€™d love to hear from you!

We have over 60,000 monthly readers that would love to see it! Contact us and let's discuss your ideas!

Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.