Sales Ops: The Invisible Hero

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Congratulations! Your sales quotas were hit and sales are higher than projected!

Way to go sales team.

Nice job sales executives.

Great work sales ops…Wait, who?

            Everyone knows the sales reps and sales executives live the pressure of meeting their numbers every quarter, but we commonly forget about the behind the scenes hero coming from operations to glue it all together and make it work.

The evolution of sales ops management comes with robust responsibility behind the scenes of many integral parts of business functions. A good sales ops person is responsible for putting data behind theory and recognizing trends to drive deals through the funnel faster.

Why does Rep A have a short sales cycle than Rep B? Can that be taught to Rep B?  Why are all deals getting stuck at a particular state in the funnel? Which verticals have the fastest sales cycles and why? Can we get marketing to drive more inbound leads from those verticals? These are great examples of information sales ops needs to collect from the sales process to help reps and executives hit their numbers.

Frequently it’s the recommendations a sales ops makes to executives that become vital procedures within the organization. Talk about pressure – and with the rise of technology promising everything under the sun from efficiency to higher close rates to better performance, sales ops is now tasked to analyze different products and evaluate the pain and time associated with implementation process to be worthwhile.

When sales ops is reviewing products to help their organization, it is important to consider all aspects of their role. If a product complicates sales ops too much, it is not likely it will be accepted and approved, especially in established businesses. Products need to be easily implemented with little or no involvement or interference with current operations. This is music to their ears.

In most cases, sales operations come into play where strategy meets execution. Operations strategy focuses on analytics, pricing models and sales processes, which build the process for execution. Execution consists of reporting, sales support, and CRM tools implementation commonly with customization and constant management. These responsibilities literally bridge sales with the rest of the organization. Products and tools have to make sense for operations, or they will never succeed or have total adoption throughout the company.

Rumored to have more than 3,000 selling tools to choose from, selecting the right product is a daunting task. There are two kinds of tools, those for reps and those for ops.  In many cases, sales ops spears the search for both and rarely finds tools that truly fulfill needs of both roles. Rep tools need to streamline their data input efforts while keeping them efficient and on target within their pipeline. Operations needs tools to improve data accuracy to eliminate thousands of hours of manual work to gather information to project sales and improve the sales process.  If sales reps can be precise with their input and efficient in the process, sales ops will have the data they need to create accurate reports and support the process, ultimately resulting better sales metrics, which makes the executives happy. Everybody wins. But, the root of this success is reps’ compliance and operations’ adoption.

Although ops will likely remain an invisible hero, tools are evolving to have impact on operations roles. With easy implementation and rep compliance, technology focused on sales operations will become the knight in shining armor.