A career in sales operations career can be exciting and rewarding. But what is the best path to take? How do you get started and progress? Welcome to our guide on supercharging your sales operations career path.

As more organizations realise that sales operations is an essential part of their overall sales team, it becomes even more of a desirable career path. It’s an area that is continuously growing, so there will always be demand.

As technology becomes more central in sales, the role of sales ops grows in importance. Also, for the type of person that likes the idea of working in sales, but prefers a more deliberate approach to living on your wits, sales ops would be a better match. 

In this article, we’re going to look:

  • How are sales ops teams structured
  • What do you need to do to make it to the top?
  • Tips on how to prove your worth in sales operations

Let’s get started.

The Structure of a Sales Operations team

Every organization is different and the way they structure their teams often varies. However, there are four main rungs on the sales operations ladder.

Sales Operations Rep

The default position for new starters on their sales operations career path is Sales Operations Rep.

In this role, you will learn the ropes of sales operations while performing tasks such as generating reports and monitoring the sales software for the team.

Sales Operations Analyst

The next step up from Sales Operations Rep is Sales Operations Analyst. As the name suggests, this is a more data-driven role. Their primary job is to interpret the data produced by the sales team and their software, then turn it into information they can use. The analyst will usually be responsible for creating reports that go out to the rest of the team and the organization.

Sales Operations Manager

The next rung on the ladder is Sales Operations Manager. Professionals at this level will be responsible for leading the sales operations team. They will have experience at the lower levels, as well as the management skills to get the best out of their team.

To be successful at this level, managers need to be well versed in sales processes and methodologies, as well as the tech and data aspect.

VP of Sales Operations or Sales Operations Director

Finally, the organization may have a Vice President of Sales Operations or Sales Operations Director level. This is the top of the tree for the sales operations professional. They will represent sales ops at the top of the company, alongside the CEO, CRO and other executives. At this level, they will be more concerned with the strategic direction of sales ops rather than day-to-day affairs.

Depending on the organization, there may be other more specific positions in the sales operations team, such as CRM admin or sales engineer.

How to Make Progress in Your Sales Operations Career

Going up in your sales operations career

To progress on your sales operations career path, it is important to understand the hierarchy and how it works. You will need to build a broad skill set, as you need different skills depending on where you are on the ladder. It’s essential that you understand the skills you need to progress. Being a number cruncher or a tech wizard will only get you so far.

Let’s concentrate on five skills you can work on to ensure you make progress on your sales ops journey.

1. Data and strategy

To build your skills on the strategic aspect of sales operations, it’s all about being able to see ‘the big picture’. It’s essential to learn how to define long-term goals that align with the goals of the wider organization. You can then plan the resources you need to achieve them. Execution comes later.

The key to defining long-term goals is the ability to interpret data. In other words, to read the numbers. Sales teams today produce vast amounts of data; everything is measured.

To succeed in sales operations, it’s essential to find the signals amongst the noise. This will come with experience. But it is best to take a proactive approach to building these skills. Immerse yourself in the data and look for areas where the numbers can be improved. Small gains can make a big difference.

2. Process and operations

In any sales operations role, it’s crucial to understand the sales process that your sales team follows. For example, ask the following questions:

  • How do they get from zero to target?
  • How do they turn a cold lead into a satisfied customer?

When you understand these processes, you can start to track activity and look for ways to improve. Start by mapping out each stage of your sales process and locating the metrics that measure success at each point.

As you progress, you will start to devise your own processes for the sales team to follow, based on insights from data.

This is the opposite of strategy. Here, it is about execution. You work on how a task will be completed, rather than what the task is. It is about deploying resources, such as technology and comp, to ensure success.

3. Technology

When you start your sales operations career path, it’s likely you will spend a significant amount of your time dealing with technology.  This will include the CRM and sales enablement software. The further you progress on the tech side, the more time you will spend on the strategic side of sales. 

Salesforce is the biggest CRM in the marketplace. Whichever organization you join, there is a high likelihood that they will use Salesforce to track their sales process. It’s advisable to develop your skills in Salesforce if you want to progress in the sector. If you plan on advancing your career by moving to other organizations, a transferrable skill such as Salesforce will make you more marketable.

You should also learn everything you can about other software used by the sales team. Whether it’s sales enablement software, analytics or anything else, become the go-to person in your team for tech and it will serve you well.

Finally, it’s important to stay up to date with technology. Sales software is in a constant state of change. New solutions are developing all the time, especially in the area of automation. Make sure you know what is out there and what is on the way. This will help you identify ways to use tech to improve the sales process. 

Develop a genuine interest in technology and this part of the job becomes easy.

4. Sales

To turbocharge your progression in sales operations, you can’t be content to remain in the background. You must build your own sales skills. When you understand what the sales reps do on a day-to-day basis, the challenges they face and the techniques they use to overcome them, you will learn skills to persuade and demonstrate value. This will also help you identify parts of the sales process that need to be improved.

Spend time on the frontline with the client-facing sales team. See how sales works in practice rather than in theory. Listen to calls, go to demos and client meetings. Ultimately, see how it’s done. Find out from the reps themselves who their lives could be made easier. You might be able to solve their problems.

5. Networking

To build a career in sales operations, It is important you have to be seen to be making a difference. Show the management in your sales team and your organization the value of sales operations, as well as the value of you personally.

Networking to progress sales operations career

Make sure you are always communicating. Build case studies to display what you have achieved. Put concrete numbers to your assertions. If your actions help bring more revenue into the business, that’s something to shout about.

You should also look for ways to collaborate with other areas of your sales team, or other parts of your company such as marketing or IT. Build relationships that will help you further down the line.

Take the initiative

Remember that while your company is likely to provide excellent training as you forge a career in sales operations, the responsibility for building skills ultimately lies with you. 

Sales operations is an exciting career option and its importance will only grow as sales technology advances. Good luck on your sales operations career path!

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