Historically, sales operations is a function reserved for companies of a certain size. Once you grow your sales team enough, then you hire a sales operations specialist, but not until the need really presents itself.
But, you shouldn’t wait until a problem reaches crisis level before you begin solving it. Sales operations can help your sales team, and your company, scale more efficiently.
What is Sales Operations?
Sales operations focuses on the optimization of the process from lead qualification to initial sales outreach to deals closing. It is a function built to support the sales team.
Sales operations is responsible for maintaining and improving all the technology a sales team uses, creating automation that’ll make sales reps more efficient and ensuring there’s visibility into sales results for stakeholders.
Sales operations should work closely with the sales team. When the two roles work together, the sales operations specialists have a better understanding of the day-to-day activities of sales reps, the priorities of the team and how to troubleshoot effectively.
What Does Sales Operations Do?
Sales operations can take different forms at different companies because their responsibilities are tailored to the needs of the sales team, their sales process and their tech stack.
In general, sales operations works to remove as many blockers from sales reps lives as possible so reps can focus on their revenue goal while still providing the necessary visibility for management.
Sales operation specialists are typically the admin for whatever CRM their sales team uses in addition to being involved with managing other software including:
- Reporting and BI tools
- Sales acceleration tools
- Voice calling software
- Proposal, contract and/or quoting tools
- The integration between the CRM and marketing automation platforms
Sales operations will also help sales reps and sales managers with reporting through the creation of dashboards, recurring reports and notifications that provide real-time updates. As part of that, they’ll also provide insight into how current processes can be improved.
In some cases, they’ll help with sales enablement tasks like email template creation and formatting too, but sales operations typically works more on the backend making sure tools are all functioning properly so the sales team can communicate, meet with and sell to prospects.
Why is Sales Operations Important?
Without sales operations, an organization likely has problems like:
- Bad data quality due to a lack of thought into how data is collected and organized compounded with limited quality control measures
- Lack of accountability for platforms and tech stacks
- Poor reporting and thus poor forecasting and difficulty managing pipeline effectively
- Lack of automation that could make life easier for sales reps
A dedicated sales operations function ensures there is accountability for all the processes and platforms a sales team uses.
This enables sales managers to focus on the people side of sales, instead of trying to juggle mentoring and training reps with platform management.
Plus, because sales operations isn’t held to the demand of prospects or an immediate revenue goal, they’re able to take a step back and unbiasedly analyze the sales process. They’re able to make improvements that will positively impact the team’s long-term performance, even if those changes may cause some friction in the short-term.
The purpose of sales operations is to make the sales team’s job easier. But, if sales operations isn’t ingrained within the sales organization, then tension can arise between the two teams.
When the two teams work closely together, they will understand each other’s motivations. This enables sales operations to create systems that truly help the sales team without imposing too much friction. This cooperation also encourages sales reps to follow the proper processes and be patient when problems occur.
Pat is the Revenue Operations Manager at New Breed. He specializes in optimizing software stacks, maintaining reporting integrity, implementing process changes and supporting our clients' needs.