In the early days of sales operations, sales ops professionals measured financial analytics, conducted reports, and predicted sales forecasting. Mainly, they were problem-solving number crunchers.
These days, they do all that and much more.
Modern sales ops professionals play a vital role in the success of a sales organization by staying ahead of problems and enabling the sales team to focus on selling. When implemented alongside strategic training, tools, and engagement techniques, sales operations can help sales teams become more productive and efficient and have a positive impact on both the top- and bottom-line performance.
What is Sales Operations?
Sales operations describes the functions and activities in sales organizations that keep sales teams efficient and effective by handling administrative and technical tasks. Sales operations streamline processes to improve sales productivity and give sellers more time to engage with customers.
Here’s a list of everything we’ll cover in this guide:
Sales Ops: Table of Contents
- Sales Operations Process
- Sales Operations Tools
- Sales Ops Metrics and KPIs
- Sales Operations vs. Sales Enablement
- Sales Ops Best Practices
Sales Operations Process
One of the biggest benefits of having a sales operations team in place is their ability to develop and execute efficient sales processes that guide selling for the whole organization. Sales operations can also help sales teams by handling administrative tasks and technical functions and implementing efficient and effective sales strategies. In more mature organizations, sales operations can even assume ownership of all the administrative and technical tasks set before the sales department, freeing up sellers to do what they do best: sell.
By taking on these responsibilities, sales ops professionals also help sales managers achieve their targets and optimize the entire sales teams. Once freed from their administrative tasks, sales managers can focus completely on sellers, encouraging them to succeed and equipping them with the resources to do so.
When this partnership works well, sales teams can function at new heights. Sellers receive the full support of their managers while the sales ops team generates data-driven insight, forecasts strategy plans, and assures that all the necessary systems are in place. The sellers can then utilize these resources to improve their performance.
Sale operations can oversee tasks including:
- Structuring, assigning, and forecasting growth of sales territories
- Formulation and evaluation of sales incentive and compensation plans
- Sales process optimization
- Implementation of sales tools
- Analysis and evaluation of performance metrics
- Development of sales and revenue strategies
- Planning and strategizing go-to-market plans
Modern sales operations teams also work to improve sales performance by speeding up the sales cycle and enabling sellers to finalize more sales quickly. The success of this process relies on the sales operations team’s ability to find the best ways to optimize and implement sales processes.
Sales operations can improve sales performance by:
- Aligning, evaluating and integrating all tech stack tools
- Overseeing sales process optimization and implementation
- Improving workflow and accuracy reporting
- Automating any possible selling or non-selling tasks
- Creating development, compensation, and incentive plans
Sales Operations Tools
To make this easier, sales operations leaders will often utilize a tech stack that includes some or all of the following tools:
- Sales enablement platforms
- Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms
- Business intelligence services
- Software for data analytics
- Communication tools
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Email automation
- Software for performance management
- Contract lifecycle management
Sales Ops Metrics and KPIs
To measure the success of sales operations, organizations need to develop clear metrics. While specific numbers will vary from organization to organization, sales operations should focus on a few key elements to measure success. The biggest metrics for sales operations can be put into two categories: performance and efficiency.
- Sales Quota Achievement Rate – Measure the percentage of sellers who have completely hit their quota during a set time period
- Win Rate – Measure the amount of won deals and compare them to the total number of deals that were won and lost
- Deal Size – Measure the average value of deal sizes that sellers manage at any time
- Pipeline Value – Measure the estimated value of the pipeline in a set time in the process (Sales Operations can also use this to make profit/loss forecasts)
- Forecast Accuracy – Measure the error rates of predicted forecasts versus actual results
- Length of Sales Cycle – Measure the average amount of time it takes for sellers to close
- Selling Time – Measure the actual time sellers are actually “in the field” selling and compare that to other duties like meetings, training, and administrative tasks
- Lead Response Time – Measure the time it takes leads to positively respond to pitches or calls to action
- Prospect Meetings – Measure the number of meetings each seller sets up in a set amount of time compared to the prospecting activity for that seller
- Pipeline Efficiency – Measure how effectively sellers manage their individual pipelines
Sales Operations vs. Sales Enablement
While sales operations and sales enablement share the goal of improving the overall sales performance of the organization, they each have different focal points. Organizations should recognize their differences in order to best utilize both teams.
Modern sales ops focuses mostly on the operational side of sales. They streamline the selling process. All territory planning, compensation assigning, and systematic or technological managing fall under the sales ops responsibilities.
On the other hand, sales enablement focuses on all of the aspects that directly affect the sellers’ performance. Sales onboarding and training, buyer engagement, resource and content management, and ultimately the effectiveness of reps all belong to sales enablement. Sales enablement can also help align and improve communication across sales and marketing teams.
Sales Ops Best Practices
Like most systems, sales operations practices vary from organization to organization. What works for one company may not always work for another. A company’s culture, size, market, and maturity all affect how sales ops functions within an organization. No matter where your company finds itself, here are some of the best practices for sales operations.
Establish a Sales Operations Mission and Vision Statement
Sales operations leaders should know exactly why the team exists and what success will look like. Breaking these down into two simple, repeatable statements will give clarity to the mission and vision of your organization’s specific sales operations goals. Teams can measure their success by examining how closely they stick to these statements.
Collaborate on Strategy Formulation
Sales operations should work alongside sales leaders and sales enablement leaders to form goals based on experience, market understanding, and experience in the territory. This experience, along with sales operations’ data-driven insight, helps create effective sales strategies.
Motivate the Team and Increase Efficiency
Sales operations has the ability to improve processes, automate non-core tasks, and administer CRM systems and other tools. When these functions are handled well, it can drive sales team efficiency and motivation.
Integrate with Marketing
When sales operations works closely with marketing, they can help develop better funnel structure. Marketing teams can utilize the data-driven insight collected by sales operations and measure their lead effectiveness.
Sales operations can improve an organization’s overall success by freeing up sales reps and providing them with the best resources to sell. When deployed with effective sales enablement, training, and engagement strategies, sales ops gives sellers the boost they need to stay ahead of competitors and engage modern buyers. With the best practices in this guide, you now have the framework you need to set up your sales ops to succeed. To learn more about empowering your sales teams, read our Secrets to Creating Winning Sellers eBook today.