How to Utilize Sales Operations Roles in Startups

If youve ever wondered why your head of sales is struggling to give an accurate forecast, or if the new reps that were brought in from a high flying SaaS company arent selling already, then it might be time for you to start managing operations roles in startups. Heres how: Hire someone who can handle forecasting and reporting Identify where there are weaknesses with current staff Add coaching support as needed


The four critical functions of operations roles in startups

Some CEOs and VPs of sales believe that the CRM admin and Excel pivot table wizard is all there is to a successful head of sales. However, this isnt enough for what they need

1. Chief of staff and advisor to the head of sales

The sales ops leader is the trusted advisor to a companys head of sales. They are so important in the operations in a startup that one person said, The [Chief Sales Officer] would be naked without his/her SOB.

 ____________________________

If the CSO is weaving the blanket of revenue that keeps us all warm, then sales ops provides them with the pattern and tools to get it done. ____________________________

2. Sales enablement

The sales ops leader has to focus on tasks such as managing the companys strategy, helping reps develop and excel in their jobs.

  • I need to create and improve the sales process. Ill start by creating a playbook for my team.
  • In my company, there are a lot of rules for the sales process. We have an onboarding program as well to help new employees learn how it works.
  • CRM and configuring tools involves a lot of responsibility.
  • Development of sales tools has been a big focus in the past few years.
  • Marketing content can be used to train employees, or provide them with the information they need.
  • Sales training and certification is a good idea.
  • The proposalbid support will help to make organizations more successful.

3. Reporting and analytics

An ops leader must be good with data. They need to make sure their forecasts are accurate and run pipeline reviews that translate into action.

4.  Strategy and planning

As a sales ops leader, there are many things you need to take care of during operations in a startup. You have to design and administer incentive plans, decide how the territory is divided up among your employees and plan for growth in order keep pushing performance over time.

Hiring a sales team is a difficult process, and its important to do the work in an orderly fashion.

operations roles in startups

If you see these symptoms in each stage, it means that the company needs to hire a sales ops person

Finding the right fit for your company will be worth $1 million in ARR.

  • You cant rely on your head of sales to forecast the future.
  • People dont know how to measure success in the business like win rates, sales velocity and other metrics.

Repeatability ~$1M-$10M ARR

  • In the beginning of my sales career, I would often hear from SDRs that companies didnt need our solution because they had a different positioning or messaging.
  • Hiring new reps is not enough to keep up with the demand for salespeople.
  • Reps are leaving because they want to grow and move up the ladder more quickly.
  • Your win rates are declining
  • New hires are slowing down the existing reps by constantly asking questions and not knowing how to do their jobs well.
  • Overall, sales are decreasing.

Going big >$10M

  • Reps are in constant competition with each other for accounts
  • Salespeople are not deeply knowledgeable about their clients needs, which leads to low performance.
  • The forecast and pipeline always seem to be a mess.
  • The deals that are being done now arent as good. Theres deep discounting or poor terms, which means itll cost you more.
  • You need to open up more offices both domestically and internationally in order to meet targets.

A great early hire here is someone who has gone through growth phases and still enjoys doing admin tasks.

Its important to make sure that your head of sales has the right tools for success. This means making time and budgeting funds for a good team, especially in terms of compensation.

There are many qualities to look for when hiring potential sales ops employees, including good organizational skills and the ability to communicate well.

Numerate Ops is about looking at data, and using it to inform the sales motion. The candidate should be able to explain why a win rate on a time horizon versus snapshot may differ, and what each represents.

When Im hiring for an Ops role, the candidate needs to be able to articulate data in a way that makes sense and can create change. They need strong communication skills at all levels of the company from your SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) up to your CEO.

Affable staff is crucial in any company. They need to be able to build relationships with the Sales Reps, Finance department, Recruiting team and Marketing.

I wonder if people will continue to think about that without any specific direction or guidance.

Being opinionated is important in negotiations and territory disputes. Youll want to hire people who are comfortable coming up with frameworks on their own.


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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: 

  • 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. 😀

 

Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
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