Sales operations exist to ensure your sales team has the tools, resources, and information necessary to succeed.
Sales ops is often confused with sales enablement, but the two terms are not synonymous. This article will:
- Look at sales operations in detail
- Explore how it differs from sales enablement
- Explain what you need to successfully implement sales operations
What Is Sales Operations?
Sales operations is the management of all the tasks involved in making a sale. It includes all the work done before, during, and after a sale, from marketing to logistics, customer feedback, and financial reporting.
The goal of sales operations is to provide value for both your buyers and sellers. The more you understand your market and your customers’ needs, the more effective you can be at building a great product or service.
The Key Differences Between Sales Operations vs. Sales Enablement
Sales enablement and sales operations are two closely related but distinct business functions. Sales enablement is the process of providing salespeople with the tools, resources, and information they need to be successful. Sales operations, on the other hand, is the process of tracking sales performance and managing the day-to-day activities related to revenue generation.
Sales ops monitors pipelines and forecasts to determine what deals are likely to close and when. It also tracks activities throughout the sales cycle to ensure that each step is completed, ensures proper pricing for an opportunity, and verifies that each prospect goes through all necessary steps before being qualified.
Sales enablement includes equipping salespeople with tools like lead management software for tracking leads from discovery through qualification and into sales, or sales forecasting software to help predict future revenue based on historical data.
What Is the Typical Sales Operations Team Structure?
The roles and responsibilities of sales operations focus on improving sales performance by leveraging technology. It helps organizations grow their businesses by improving processes, automating tasks, and providing insights for the revenue operations team.
You can structure the sales operations management team in a variety of ways, and they may be centralized or distributed across the globe depending on the size of your company and its needs.
Regardless of how you structure your sales ops team, there are some common positions that you’ll likely need to fill:
VP of Sales Operations
A VP of Sales Operations ensures that the sales team stays aligned with the company’s strategic objectives for efficiency and profitability. This person is responsible for:
- Overseeing all aspects of the sales operations department, including strategic planning and budgeting, day-to-day operations, and recruitment and retention efforts
- Driving the sales team’s performance through technology solutions and improved processes
A VP of Sales Operations must be adept at managing multiple priorities, juggling schedules, and managing people during high-pressure situations.
Sales Operations Manager
This person oversees day-to-day activities within sales operations and ensures all teams work together to achieve goals. Their responsibilities include:
- Overseeing all aspects of work done by the other team members, including training new hires and reviewing reports from each position
- Working closely with other managers to ensure they have everything they need to do their jobs successfully
Since they may be working on several projects simultaneously, sales operations managers must have excellent project management and interpersonal skills.
Sales Operations Analyst
The sales operations analyst ensures that the sales department is efficient and effective by analyzing and processing data, implementing new technologies, and creating reports. Their responsibilities include:
- Analyzing data to identify patterns or trends related to sales performance and customer interactions, as well as identifying opportunities for improvement
- Recommending solutions based on findings from research and creating reports for management review purposes
A sales operations analyst will need strong organizational skills and attention to detail. They will also need sound knowledge of computer programs commonly used in business environments.
What Are Sales Operations Best Practices?
If you want to operate your sales organization effectively, you need to have sales operations best practices in place. When you have the right tools and processes, you can improve your bottom line by increasing your sales velocity.
Here are some of the best sales operations strategies:
Create Detailed, Accurate Forecasts
If you don’t have accurate forecasts, you won’t be able to predict the resources needed to maintain growth and profitability. You may run into problems with forecasting if there’s an issue with data quality or consistency across teams.
Therefore, it’s important to create detailed forecasts based on historical data. You can always look at companies with a similar business model as a guidepost for how much revenue they’re bringing in each month or quarter.
Identify Where Buyers Are in Their Journey
Salespeople often end up wasting precious time talking with prospects who aren’t ready to buy yet. Identifying which prospects are a great fit for your business is important, but just as important is knowing when they’re in-market for your product or solution now.
Not knowing where buyers are in their journey can result in salespeople chasing leads that aren’t close to making a business decision, or worse, losing opportunities to the competition because they didn’t know when to reach out.
Determine your prospects’ stage of the buying journey with technology that uncovers what kind of topics they’re searching for and what content they’re interested in. A pattern will emerge that tells you when prospects are in the awareness stage, considering your solution, or ready to buy.
Uncover the Entire Buying Team
If you only know the people who have directly inquired into your offerings, you’re missing out on opportunities to build relationships with other influencers in the company. Sales ops can help uncover all the people involved in the buying process so you can target them with the right content at the right time.
Your team needs to know who your buyers are—not just at a high level, but who, exactly, is part of the decision-making process. By mapping out all the stakeholders involved in each sale, you can understand how to reach each person on their preferred channel and devise an effective strategy that speaks to the needs, goals, and pain points of their roles.
Give Sellers an Integrated Tech Experience
Sales ops tools should provide a holistic view of all the activities that make up the sales cycle. Whether it’s lead nurturing, email automation, or CRM management, everything should be seamlessly integrated into one platform so that sellers can access all the information they need in one place.
This lowers the risk of mistakes and missed opportunities along the way. In addition, when everything is centralized and streamlined, sellers can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time closing deals.
Automate as Much as Possible
Every touchpoint in your sales process should be streamlined with automation, especially data entry and reporting. Automating these processes will save your reps time and energy so they can focus on what matters most: closing deals.
The right platforms can help you automate formerly manual and time-intensive tasks, freeing your operations team up to focus on providing deeper insights to your sellers.
The Bottom Line on Sales Operations
Sales operations is about much more than just managing your pipeline. It’s about providing an integrated technology experience for your sellers that allows them to be more productive across their entire sales process.
For your business to succeed in sales ops, you must have the right team and apply the best sales operation practices.