In Support of Sales: The Many Roles of the Sales Operations-ist – by Alyson Button Stone

Batman has Alfred Pennyworth. Iron Man has Pepper Potts. And sales teams have… Sales Operations.

Comic Strip with Bubbles

While sales as a discipline is focused on achievement — What needs to happen to get to a certain goal — sales operations is concerned with supporting those efforts and working on How to make those goals happen. In addition, sales operations bridges the sometimes prickly landscape that lies between sales and marketing

Here’s a typical job description for a sales operations role:

“The sales operations director develops and manages systems/processes that support the sales force including sales force automation systems, sales metrics, incentive plans and targeting. The Sales Operations Director is responsible for improving sales productivity and effectiveness.”

You’re a Sales Ops Person if you:

  • Are interested in analyzing the systems, processes, strategies, and tactics that leverage the power of technology
  • Are excited about making sense of different kinds of data and finding ways to correlate between data sets to gain actionable information. Data is powerful, and not everybody understands how to extract the value from it. This affinity for data can have a huge impact on your company. It’s also a stealth power because most people don’t understand — or know how to harness — the lessons of data.
  • Understand the value of tracking the impact of various sales systems and processes — in order to assess and fine tune strategies and tactics for the sales team and help attain sales goals. Without the ability to “read” the results that data represents–without actionable insights–uninterpreted data is no better than having no data at all.

Major Responsibilities and Functions of Sales Ops

You’ll notice that the categories below focus on science, not art. Sales operations doesn’t guess, intuit, or use gut instinct. They use science to guide sales toward solutions that move sales organizations toward their goals.

Sales Man

Data Analysis

More than just looking at compensation models and forecasting, sales ops analyzes data to know where to adjust the sales organization and the sales/marketing mix. Sales operations sits at the center, well positioned to spot meaningful trends. Sales counts on sales operations to make sure that the data they steer by is clean and accurate — and that management can see and understand the reports that demonstrate important information.

Integration and Alignment

Sales ops is perhaps the most cross-functional role in sales. Marketing and sales, CRM and salespeople, sales stack and sales operations. Can you imagine the value of providing your sales and marketing teams with a way to send the right content to the right prospect at exactly the right time in their buyer’s journey?

The Sales Stack

Sales ops is responsible for finding the best technology and software to keep the sales team effective and productive. New sales tools are appearing daily, and sales ops has to be on top of the capabilities and be able to recommend what makes sense and what doesn’t.

Forecasting

Modeling helps sales operations determine the likelihood of success of new ideas, initiatives, experiments, or testing. No point in taking unnecessary risks with human or financial resources. Sales ops is about using reporting to make predictions so the team hits those numbers.

LeadGen Process

Sales operations insures that sales and marketing can identify, capture, and follow up on the right leads. They set the goals, develop the strategies, and teach the tactics for a well-defined lead generation process — resource conscious and collaborative.

Incentives and Compensation

This function includes setting a salary/rewards structure, establishing career advancement goals, implementing employee recognition programs, and gamification strategies.

Training and Onboarding

With the segmentation of sales roles (business development, inbound sales roles, outbound sales roles, hybrid sales roles) training and onboarding are increasingly a vital part of the sales operations brief. This function might include: change management, creating the sales playbook, establishing best practices, adoption and compliance, and setting up instruction models — whatever is needed to insure sales team competence and excellence.

Streamlining

When you’re in sales operations, you should understand the bumps in the workflow and know how to clear the decks for revenue-generating activities,

Is the workflow smooth? Are results commensurate with goals? Does the team have access to software for multiple devices?  What’s interfering with sales team efficiency? What’s slowing salespeople down?

Another facet of streamlining is preventing screwups that make the company look bad and feel ineffective. No sales organization likes it, for example, when two or more reps make email pitches to the same prospect. It makes the organization look disorganized and clueless.

Is Sales Ops for You?

Adding business value, reducing friction, and driving excellence are the lofty goals of sales operations. The practical role of sales operations can vary widely from company to company depending on variables like company size, company culture, leadership, and resources, but the overarching mission is one of service to internal stakeholders. Sales operations supports the art of selling with the science of data (big and small) — the driving force that helps the organization meet revenue goals, be productive, and achieve success.

Sales Ops Superhero

 

Alyson joined the Pipeliner CRM team after several years working for other cool startups — and writing at her own company, A Woman of Letters. An active volunteer in her small Massachusetts town, she has spearheaded several municipal building and renovation projects. When she has time, she tells personal stories on her own blog — http://www.pilgrimssoul.blogspot.com/

 

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