The Role of Sales Operations in a Productive Sales Team
In the second blog of our ‘Sales Operations’ series, we look at how sales operations teams boost the success of the wider sales team.
A company’s sales operations plays an essential role in the success of the wider team. Sales operations make sales teams more efficient, through the use of technology and data analysis methods. However, that is just part of what they do. They bring far more benefits than merely running the CRM and crunching numbers.
If you want your sales team to achieve their best, you need sales operations to be running at optimum.
Let’s dive deeper and examine three ways sales operations make their sales teams more productive.
1. Sales Operations Make the Sales Process Run More Smoothly
Possibly the most important role of sales operations is to make the organisation’s sales process more efficient. The more efficient your sales process is, the more leads you move through your funnel and turn into customers. This means you make more revenue, faster. Moreover, you gain an edge on your competitors. It’s the primary goal for every sales team.
Sales operations teams have two main ways of doing this; technology and data. The sales operations manager will build a technology stack which makes the rest of the sales team’s life easier, as well as the sales process more effective.
For example, this could be a CRM with automation features that mean sales reps can spend more time selling and less time doing menial data entry tasks. It could be more specific applications that speed up the sales process, such as email marketing systems or lead scoring apps. For all of these efficiency boosters, it’s the sales operations team that identify a need, find a solution, implement and maintain it.
The way sales operations use data may be the most crucial factor in making the sales process more efficient. It’s the sales operations team that set up the reports that dig into the metrics that matter, using technology that they run. It’s also sales operations who analyze the data to find inefficiencies and ways to improve.
For example, sales operations will dig deep into conversion rates, a direct measure of how efficiently a sales team is performing. They will know whether they are trending, up or down. If sales operations identify that their sales reps are not converting as many leads into opportunities as they used to, they can delve further into the numbers to find out why.
They will ask:
- Is it individual reps who are not doing enough?
- Is there something wrong with how the team are qualifying leads?
- Will technology help?
- Is there an opportunity to improve using coaching?
You could get even more granular and analyze how individual reps bring in deals of different sizes or for various products. Perhaps the problem isn’t the human being, but the process itself. Maybe your call scripts or product demo procedures need a refresh. If any numbers stand out, signifying inefficiency, it’s an opportunity to improve.
Without sales operations, sales directors, managers and reps are scrambling in the dark. Sales operations shed light on the sales process, so everyone can find ways to advance.
2. Sales operations run the tech
In today’s world of sales, everyone relies on technology more than ever before.
It’s CRM software that provides reps with all the information they need to get to know their customers, as well as sell to them. Sales teams love software that makes their lives easier in other ways. For example, automating the transfer of useful information directly from emails. Software is the means of analyzing data for reporting, forecasting and more. Even a basic requirement, such as knowing where the sales team is versus target, is a task now carried out by technology.
It’s the sales operations team that runs the technology stack for the sales team. They are in charge of identifying a need for technology and finding the right solution. Sales operations install and roll out the technology and are then in charge of managing it. Sales operations solve any problems with the CRM and make any necessary changes. They also ensure all the software is updated and secure.
In a high-performance sales team, sales operations will take a proactive approach to running the technology. They will constantly be looking at their team’s sales process. If they spot a need which technology can fill, for example, a blockage at a particular part of the sales process, they will bring in the right piece of technology to relieve the obstruction.
Small wins can make a big difference. Even when there are no serious problems with the sales process, things can always be improved. If new examples of technology emerge that can help find marginal gains for the sales team, the best sales ops teams may propose a purchase. This requires a good knowledge of the sales software marketplace, new developments that can help sales teams perform better.
Automation in tech is one of the major topics that sales operations must deal with. The benefits of automation are many, including saving time for the sales team and minimising human error. Many software solutions offer automation features, and sales operations need to evaluate which solutions are most effective when incorporated into their sales process.
Cutting edge features in new software such as AI and machine learning can make them even more effective.
3. Sales Operations Help Formulate Strategy
The sales operations team should be the part of the machine that links how strategy is formulated and actioned.
Sales operations plays a significant role in devising the strategy that drives the business. For example, they will:
- Use past metrics to calculate what is possible for the present
- Assist in working out comp plans for individual contributors
- Set targets that motivate sales reps
- Agree numbers that reward the salesperson, while keeping them on track to achieve the organisation’s wider goals
- Know whether a sales team needs to bring on more people to hit their targets or if there too many people at a specific time.
Sales operations teams will use internal and external data to identify new opportunities in the marketplace, directing the sales team towards them. As keepers of the data, they may be the first to find out what is working and what isn’t. This, like many of sales operations’ other roles, requires a proactive approach.
When it comes to the figures, sales operations could be the sales team’s representatives to the rest of the organisation. Sales operations will make forecasts to the C-Suite and produce reports on whether or not their projections have been achieved.
The Value of Sales Operations
We have looked at the essential role sales operations play in the running of a successful sales team. While different organizations may use sales ops in slightly different ways, the underlying principles remain the same:
Sales ops are there to reduce friction in the sales process, get the most out of tech and use data to formulate strategy.
The most successful sales operations team will act proactively rather than reactively. Instead of fighting fires, they will see problems before they happen. They look for ways to improve the sales process when others don’t even see a need for improvement.
Ultimately, if you find a high-performing sales team, more often than not there is a super-effective sales operations team right behind it.
Related articles of interest include:
- How to be a Successful Sales Operations Manager
- 5 Steps to Supercharge Your Sales Operations Career Path
- Sales Operations: The Ultimate Guide to Making it a Success
- How to Scale Sales With Sales Operations