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An underperforming sales team can ruin your business. No matter how well your other departments perform, you cannot push your revenue upwards if your sales team isn’t performing well.
So, is your sales team not performing to its fullest potential? If yes, a sales operations team can change that.
With sales operations, you can take a long-term approach to improve your sales. It can streamline processes with a futuristic view that ultimately contribute towards increasing your sales team’s efficiency and help them close more deals.
Let’s dive right into the world of sales operations and learn more about it!
Sales operations or sales ops (in short) refers to supporting the frontline sales team to sell products or services more efficiently, closing more deals faster. It is about reducing the friction in the sales process and providing strategic direction to achieve the sales goals. Sales ops covers a lot of ground. Hence, its definition may vary from company to company.
Why is sales operations important? A simple answer to this would be – that it is beneficial. But before I list out the benefits of sales ops for you, here’s something about its importance in an organization.
Sales operations is all-encompassing. Strategically implementing its tactics and techniques can enable your sales teams to sell faster, better, and more efficiently. In short, sales and operations planning can drive results for your business.
Above anything else, sales operations structures and systemizes your selling process. It brings data-driven strategies, best training practices, and technology to the table, helping you hack success.
The scope of sales operations is broad, and it significantly impacts the productivity and efficiency of sales teams. So, sales ops are an indispensable part of business, especially in B2B and SaaS.
Now, let’s have a look at a few benefits of sales operations.
Now, let’s take a look at what the sales operations process exactly covers.
As I mentioned in the previous section, one of the primary advantages of sales ops is that it aligns sales processes, making them more efficient.
If you have a proper functional sales operations process, you can plan, create, and implement a sales process that supports your sales team in everything they do. A sales operations process serves as a guide that your sales team can refer to when faced with complexities.
Here are a few aspects that the sales operations process can help you with:
In more large-scale enterprises, sales operations take full responsibility and ownership of all sales and admin functions. At the same time, it also reduces the data management load, and helps in strategy development and complex decision-making.
Sales ops and sales enablement – sounds similar, right?
Sales enablement also boosts revenue and improves the productivity of your sales teams. So, do you need both sales ops and enablement?
Yes, you do.
Though sales ops and enablement have the same goal – to increase sales efficiency and effectiveness and drive revenue – they are somewhat different.
Consider sales enablement as a part of sales operations. While sales operations handle the bigger picture, sales enablement looks after the day-to-day activities of sales reps.
According to Ferrer, VP of Sales Operations & Strategy at HubSpot, ‘’sales operations analyzes the data and makes decisions, and sales enablement helps roll out those decisions.”
Digging deeper, sales enablement teams within organizations typically focus on assisting the sales reps in the early stages of the sales funnel. In contrast, sales operations supervises high-level support functions like reporting, tech management, territory mapping, etc.
Overall, I can say that the difference between sales operations and sales enablement is minimal, and people often use these terms interchangeably.
Also, note that the company's potential role of sales ops and enablement can differ due to their different structures and responsibilities.
An organization's sales and operations team has a broader purpose -to boost the efficiency of the sales process and productivity of sales reps. Overall, the sales operations team looks forward to significantly impacting the business performance.
Considering this broader mission, the sales operations team has an array of roles and responsibilities to fulfill.
Sales ops teams often collaborate with sales leaders to set sales goals and create a strategy for the business, aligning to the business goals. A sales operations team can provide data insights to make tactical sales strategies. Sales ops is also responsible for structuring a sales process to improve conversion, shorten the sales cycle, and increase gains.
Sales ops has a bird’s eye view of the sales process and its KPIs. The sales operations team optimizes the sales process by pinpointing the low-performing areas. This can include identifying the sales cycle aspects resulting in too many costs or longer time. Also, it can include addressing the sales cycle issues using automation for repetitive tasks in the sales process.
Sales ops makes forecasting easy as it has access to massive data insights. The sales operations team can predict your revenue. Thus, with the help of a sales operations team, you can know how many leads you need to acquire, the number of leads that will convert into opportunities, and how many opportunities will lead to successful sales. Also, sales ops can help you can better-informed decisions.
The sales operations team is also responsible for guiding you toward better decisions through data analysis. The best sales ops teams provide insights into market trends and customer behavior and help to answer a few questions, like,
Also, the best sales operations teams can use the information to create processes that make sense for your business. This can also mean creating reports and dashboards and identifying key metrics.
Sales tech is on the rise. A vast expanse of sales tools and plug-ins makes work easier. The sales operations team ensures that sales reps use the right tools and get the most out of these tools.
Sales operations also track sales productivity and constantly work towards setting up a tech stack that enables the sales reps’ team to perform the best.
Sales reporting is one of the main responsibilities of the sales operations team. It is necessary for the sales ops team to not only provide data but also ensure that the right people have access to data and they know how to use it.
Moreover, sales reporting applies to all. I mean, the sales ops team must prepare appropriate sales reports for the sales teams and executives who need information about sales. The team also prepares presentations and high-level detailed reports for the management.
Sales is something the entire company is invested in. So, now and then, stakeholders ask for strategy updates, progress reports, upcoming activities, and more. Your sales team does not have the time to update everyone. They need to focus on closing more sales. So, the sales operations team does the job.
The sales and operations planning process involves automating early-stage sales activities, like generating new inbound leads alongside the marketing team and connecting the efforts to the sales team’s CRM.
According to a survey, roughly two-thirds of sales organizations have a formal and dedicated sales operations team, and around 10% of companies plan to add a formal sales ops team.
So, you must have understood that investing in sales operations is necessary to keep it working properly. You need to optimize sales ops to gain maximum benefits from it.
Here are seven sales operation best practices to help you achieve peak performance every year.
Sales operations is responsible for allowing your sales reps to do what they do best – selling!
If you work on reducing overheads, your sales reps can sell more and attract new clients too. Thus, sales ops can maximize the sales team’s efficiency.
Moreover, reducing overheads also means reducing costs (Gartner says that 5% reduction in operating costs can boost sales by 30%😮). So, the more you reduce costs, the higher your sales team’s ROI will be, especially if the reduction is achieved together with aligning processes and maximizing efficiency.
Like all other processes or functions, sales operations must have clear goals and a well-defined purpose. It gives the sales ops team a direction to start working.
Ideally, the goals should be precise, to the point, and easy to understand. The main aim here is to tell the sales ops team which way to go and encourage them to improve. It should also focus on explaining your organization’s core values.
You should also plan a sales ops strategy and align the objectives with the strategy. This will help you achieve the key sales operations goals and increase efficiency.
Strong leaders must lead your sales operations that your sales ops team can look up to. They can ensure the proper functioning of the team.
With strong leaders, team members will know their responsibilities and whom they should report to. In short, sales ops will have a clear leadership structure with good leaders.
Additionally, a good leader also knows to motivate the team by clearly understanding each member, their skills, and feedback on areas to improve. Strong leaders can smoothen team communication, organize tasks, increase engagement, and build trust.
You may think that sales ops is not responsible for determining incentives. But they can help the sales managers do so. How? By accessing all data.
Sales operations can help you incentivize your sales team’s work. They can find the top performers, set more relevant and accurate goals, and motivate sales reps.
Sales ops can also help you plan the compensation and develop incentive plans for your sales team. Since sales ops can access any data, they can move beyond generalized incentives and offer personalized ones. Personalizing incentives can, thus, help you boost each sales rep’s performance and boost team motivation too.
5. Assist and support regular performance checks
Sales operations help the sales team become more efficient by picking the apt tools for them, managing sales data, driving data-based decisions, and even picking sales metrics.
With sales operations participating in regular performance checks of sales teams can help you evaluate them better. Sales ops can also provide the necessary data and insights on sales and the sales team’s performance. Also, sales operations can help you determine the right feedback for the team to motivate them to perform better.
Sales operations is not just about closing more sales. It is also about bringing in higher revenue. That means, to retain more paying customers, you need to decrease churn, increase LTV (lifetime value), or reduce the sales cycle length. All of these KPIs or metrics are super important to keep an eye on the performance of your sales operations team.
Set up automated lead distribution software like RevenueHero. It can amp up your overall sales process by qualifying leads, assigning them to the right sales reps, and prioritizing them.
The automated lead distribution process sets predetermined criteria to assign leads to the right sales reps.
You can choose the round-robin method or distribute leads based on geographic territories, sales rep’s expertise, etc. You should have a clear lead distribution strategy to make the most of the sales operations function.
A successful sales operations department has five essential elements. Take a look.
As I have mentioned above, everything data belongs to sales ops. They ensure updating databases and managing the data to help you make informed decisions for the company.
Without analytics and reporting, data is of no use. Sales operations analyze data and create reports to find the successful business areas, the ones likely to fail, stagnant aspects, opportunities to drive growth, and challenges to overcome. Analytics and reporting provide a clearer picture of the business performance and helps in decision-making.
Forecasting is important to prevent spending too much (beyond margin) or too little to miss out on sales. Sales operations perform forecasting to help you understand the actions to take based on your outlook of possible sales in the upcoming period.
One of the biggest causes why sales operations underperform is the lack of accountability. Lack of accountability can lead to reduced margins, increased costs, and decreased revenue. A sales operations manager must keep the sales team accountable for their performance to ensure progress and sustainable success.
Sales operations should create proper pricing guidelines and proposal operations. These guidelines should be accurate and beneficial to the sales teams. They should produce valuable insights to assist sales reps with closing more sales.
Implementing sales operations in an organization requires a proper sales and operations planning process. Let’s take a look at the sales operations workflow to ensure the perfect implementation of sales ops in your company.
Firstly, you must decide how your sales operations team will work – their responsibilities, tasks, and how to accomplish them.
The sales operations team adds significant value to your sales department. But then, you’ll need to ensure that you have the right people to perform the sales ops activities. Here are a few common sales operation tasks that the team must perform.
The goal is to build an appropriate sales operations process. So, you can add more to the list based on your business goals and requirements.
Once you are set with your sales operations process, you must pick the right KPIs to track. These KPIs will help you assess the team’s performance.
You must monitor a few important KPIs to ensure successful sales operations.
Along with these KPIs, you must also monitor the number of prospect meetings. The more meetings you book with new prospects, the steadier is your flow of high-quality leads.
Without the right people, you cannot expect your sales ops process to be successful. So putting together the right people is necessary for an effective sales operations team. Here are four sales operations roles that you must hire for.
After you have built your sales operations team, ensure to provide them with proper training and inspiration. You can provide your sales operations team with specialized training courses and programs, including podcasts, presentations, sales operations playbooks, or management specialization courses.
Besides doing all of the above, you must also implement sales ops best practices. I have listed five best practices that you can implement in your organization. Besides, you can add a few more, like,
Overall, ensure that you implement actionable sales ops best practices to make the most out of this function.
Sales operations is huge, and you must have understood it by now!
The sales ops function has a big job to perform. Once you implement sales ops appropriately, rest assured you’ll see a massive transformation in your revenue. It can help you grow strategically while optimizing your profits.
RevenueHero can help your sales operations team with lead management. The platform works like magic when it comes to capturing and converting leads. RevenueHero automatically assigns leads to the right sales reps based on predetermined criteria. It helps to qualify leads and prioritize the best ones. Thus, your sales team can focus more on conversions, perform their best, and take your conversion rates to the next level.
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