About half a century ago, Xerox through Patrick Kelly created the first-ever sales operation group, laying the foundation for essential business practice. Fuelled by technological advancements, the practice has undergone immense changes and is now vital to any organization seeking success in today's highly competitive business scope. That said, here is an outline of things that sales operations must do in the digital world.
But First, What Exactly is Sales Operations?
Sales ops team focuses on boosting the productivity of a sales team
Commonly referred to as sales ops, sales operations are any activities and processes geared towards helping a sales team in an organization achieve sustainable growth. In other words, a sales ops team focuses on boosting the productivity of a sales team.
It does so by focusing on the execution of processes such as lead management, territory structuring, and sales automation, among many others. Based on this definition, sales operations are any activities and processes that help bring system to selling. Thus a sales ops team can be referred to as the backbone of sales teams.
Things That Sales Operations Must Do
Now that you know what exactly is sales ops, below is the outline of things that this critical area of business must do:
1. Measure Existing Sales Processes
As noted, the primary purpose of sales operations is to increase productivity and boost the revenue generated by the sales team. To achieve this, the sales ops team must first evaluate the existing strategies to measure just how effective they're in bringing sustainable growth for the entire company. The team does this by reviewing the effect of the current strategies on sales operations KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) such as net profit.
It's, however, vital to note that regardless of how good an existing strategy might be, there's always room for improvement. Thereby, based on the results they get by reviewing the sales operations, KPIs the Ops team expected to either improve the existing or come up with new strategies. For instance, if the results of the review show inefficiencies in existing approaches, the sales ops team is expected to come up with a new and better sales plan.
2. Take a Leadership Role
Other than measuring existing sales processes, the sales team must also take charge of the entire sales department. Why? The fact that the sales ops team is responsible for tasks that help empower the rest of the sales force automatically makes it the leader of the pack.
Also, since the team comes up with sales strategies, it only makes sense if it helps set the pace in which they should be implemented. In other words, Sales operations must fuel change and impart a culture of continuous improvement within the organization. They do this by defining sales territories and facilitating communications between the sales force and other departments among many other activities.
3. Eliminate Friction
While their primary duty is to bridge the gap between the organization and its clientele, most sales reps spend most of their time in non-revenue generating activities. In other words, they spend most of their time engaging in activities that are in no way helping the business get its products and services to the market. This, in turn, dramatically hinders their productivity.
Sales operations must eliminate this friction by assuming these tasks and leaving more time to the sales reps to focus on their job. For instance, by studying and understanding internal performance data and external market research data, a sales operation analyst is usually able to generate essential customer insights. They can then enhance productivity by informing the sales team on the ground of what the consumers want, and the most effective strategies that they can use to deliver it. This, in turn, eliminates friction by allowing the sales reps more time to focus on product and service delivery instead of trying to find out what the consumer needs.
Sales Operations Challenges
While sales operations help improve productivity and propel the entire company to success, professionals in this department often face external and internal challenges as shown below
Problematic Sales Processes
If the company in question is yet to set up well-defined sales processes, sales operation analysts usually have a hard time understanding and optimizing the available data such as the ones that improve salesforce productivity.
Keeping Up with Changes
As the company grows, the roles and responsibilities of sales operations increase, calling for consistent changes in the structure of the team.
Other Sales Operations Challenges Include:
- Difficulties in striking a balance between the tactical and strategic responsibilities assigned to sales operations
- Confusion and overlapping efforts between sales operations, enablement and marketing teams
- Regular sales team reorganizations make it difficult for sales operations to devise permanent sale processes, compensation models, and territory assignments.
Sales operations play a vital role in the success of your sales department. To sum it up, sales ops are the backbone of any sales department.