What Is Sales Operations? Process, Roles, Responsibilities

What Is Sales Operations? 

Sales operations refer to the area of an organization that supports, facilitates, and drives the front-line sales team in order to sell faster, better, and more efficiently. It refers to the unit’s processes, roles, and activities within the sales organization.  

 The objectives of sales management operations leaders are to maximize the effectiveness of sales teams by enabling them to focus on sales because it enables them to drive business results through the use of strategic engagement techniques, software tools, and implemented training. It is perhaps most important to recognize that sales operations play an important role in adding a system to selling. As one of the typically overlooked and underappreciated departments within an organization, data becomes the driving force behind the strategy, best practices become the guide for training, and technology becomes the hack to success.  

 In an organization with a mature sales function, and especially in the enterprise, SaaS, and B2B industries, the sales operation department has become a strategic and indispensable component of that organization. It is because of the broad scope and the profound impact it has on both top-line (productivity) and bottom-line (efficiency) performance. 

 For instance, meeting sales targets in upcoming quarters by managing the sales pipeline. Leads, opportunities, proposals, and customers are all sales pipeline stages. 

Significance Of Sales Operations 

The sales operations function’s job is to take care of both sales leaders and sales reps. By enabling them with the best technology available, sales operations can enable more productive work and drive sales strategy. Leaders in the sales department can use tools to support their planning and key decision-making, such as automated forecasting and performance dashboards. Sales operations teams are given tools, such as enablement and AI-driven recommendations, which help them to sell more effectively and efficiently, thereby achieving sales objectives. This results in a huge amount of revenue that is juicy and sweet.  

 The results of McKinsey’s research show that companies with world-class sales operations teams are able to boost sales productivity by as much as 20% to 30%. 

In order to succeed in sales and fulfill the objectives of sales management, it needs to be tamed like the wild west. Think of a dusty scene in which sales reps are arguing over accounts, drowning in administrative tasks, shooting from the hip in every conversation with a customer, and constantly improvising about how to handle the situation. At the same time, sales leaders find it difficult to get access to the data they require to set goals that they can be confident about – and to identify pipeline blockages that threaten these goals. 

 The improvisation in sales operations has given way to data-proven actions, making the sales operation team more productive while reducing their time and energy investments. 

What Are The Roles of Sales Operations? 

There are many functions and roles that go into the sales operations team to help them meet their goals, including strategy, hiring, training, optimizing the sales process, forecasting, data analysis, and territory planning. 

In spite of the fact that organizations may differ in terms of their exact functions and structure, these roles can generally be categorized into four main categories: 

  • Strategy 
  • Technology 
  • Operations
  • Performance

At first, the sales team operation consisted of a small team of experts who analyzed financial data, prepared reports, and forecasted sales for the company. It’s clear that sales operations are becoming a more powerful data analysis and reporting unit as a result of the explosion of business information, which now allows us to provide essential insights into the following areas: 

  • Performance Metrics  
  • Analysis 
  • Sales Process  
  • Optimization 
  • Assessment  
  • Adoption of Sales Methodologies 
  • Sales Territory Assignment 
  • Growth Forecasting 
  • Formulation of Incentives Program 
  • Selection of Enablement Software and other Technology Tools 
  • Evaluation of Sales Team Training Needs 
  • Technology

During the past few years, SaaS applications and other sales tools have experienced a tremendous increase in the number of options that organizations can choose from. Data and technology can certainly facilitate sales, but the complexity of multiple platforms can be a real pain for sales reps, resulting in less time spent on the sales floor and inefficient productivity. That is where the role of sales operations comes in. As part of their role, they are responsible for managing the objectives in the sales technology stack to enable the sales reps to focus on selling. 

They do this in a number of different ways, which are listed below: 

  • Integration of apps and tools 
  • Data management and reporting 
  • Adoption and customization of a CRM 
  • Task automation 
  • Communications management 
  • Operations 

By assuming the burden of administrative and operational tasks within the sales department, sales operations contribute to the performance and expertise levels within this department. The sales operations team can take the lead on hiring, training, and knowledge management by analyzing data and optimizing processes to ensure that sales reps have the information and skills necessary to succeed on the sales floor, with the help of data analysis and process optimization. 

The following are some of the sales team operations responsibilities and tasks: 

  • Product Training 
  • Contracts and SLAs 
  • Sales training 
  • Hiring and onboarding top talent 
  • KB management 
  • Market intelligence support 
  • Performance

Last but not least, an objective of sales management operations aims to improve the productivity and performance of the sales reps by removing barriers and streamlining processes as much as possible. 

There are several performance priorities that sales operations may focus on in order to improve performance: 

  • Compensation and incentive plans 
  • Implementation of sales methodologies and best practices 
  • Lead management 
  • Identifying KPIs and sales metrics 

How To Run A Successful Sales Operations Team? 

There is a lot of work involved in managing a sales operations team. Here are some tips on ensuring success using these best practices. 

1. Create A Formal Mission For The Sales Operations Team 

When you hear buzzwords like sales ops, you may be tempted to become enamored by them. If your sales operations team does not have a defined purpose and mission, they will be doomed to failure. 

Make sure that the objective of the sales management department is clear before you create it. The alternative is that the organization will have to go through more work, and resources will be diverted from the tasks and initiatives needing the most attention. Your sales operations team’s key sales objective and mission statement should be clearly defined to ensure their success. For the team to serve more effectively within the organization, it has a specific purpose that will guide its decision-making, strategy, and functions. 

2. Establish Best Practices And Scalable Processes 

There is no doubt that managing and scaling sales processes is one of the most valuable contributions the sales operations team can make to a sales department in order to ensure that all sales materials and functions are governed according to your organization’s best practices, and standards, your sales operations department should act as the central hub.

When every employee is on the same page and applying methods and practices consistently, the organization will be able to run more efficiently by evaluating, documenting, applying, and communicating the company’s best practices and formal processes.

The sales operations team needs to ensure that the standards and processes for pricing and service are clearly documented, easily accessible, and available in a central knowledge base or resource center for maximum results. Moreover, to ensure smooth transitions, it is also important that updates and changes are communicated clearly through the most efficient channels. 

3. Clearly Define Sales Ops Vs. Sales Enablement Responsibilities 

There is always a danger for sales operations and enablement to overlap since they have similar goals and roles, making it easy for confusion between the two teams. Defining each team’s specific functions and responsibilities will ensure there will be no redundancies or miscommunications in the future. 

With a clear boundary between the two teams, both teams will be able to work more effectively and efficiently to support one another and support the entire sales department by providing each other with support. 

4. Prioritize Customer Success And Retention 

The best sales operations teams not only assist sales reps in finding the best prospects but also emphasize driving success and retaining those customers as long as possible through the entire sales process. A sales operations professional is very well suited to this role since they have in-depth knowledge of and an understanding of the customer base and the market in which they operate. 

The ops team can utilize this data and research to improve sales training, support sales reps during difficult negotiations or pricing conflicts, and improve the results after the sale is made by using that data and research. 

Sales operations teams have a role to play in supporting the efforts of sales reps by communicating and sharing key information and insights regarding their accounts with sales reps and providing them with key insights into their account.  

Conclusion 

There has been a shift in sales focus over the past few years. The goal used to be to drive individual performance in the organization; now, it’s about making the sales process more efficient to drive efficiency in the business. Sales operations are responsible for that, and that’s why their role continues to expand. A sales rep will always need to connect with one customer to make a sale. By automating non-selling tasks or guiding sales reps with artificial intelligence, sales operations keep the focus where it belongs. People say sales keep the lights on – and they’re right. Sales operations run the wires. 

 So now you might be aware of the concept of sales operations, their roles, responsibilities, etc. If not, then you need to check out the UNext Jigsaw’s Sales Management course, which will surely brush up your concept concisely. 

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