Sales Operations are often misunderstood as that part of the sales functional structure that only focuses on the execution part. Operations as a word inherently seem to exclude strategic thinking.
But seen from up close, Sales Operations not only ensures that the sales organization runs smoothly, but also plans for it; it works to see that the sales team delivers, it makes the necessary improvements as and when required and helps in scaling up the entire process smoothly. Sales Operations actually are all of what we just said and maybe even more. As Amanda O’Neill, Director of Sales Operations at AT&T puts it,
"Sales Operations describes a cross-functional role that guides customers through introductory training, provides support through the sales lifecycle, and enables long-term account sustainability."
We have broken down the main facets of the Sales Operations role into 4 points, here.
- Setting the Sales Strategy
- Working towards creating Sales Excellence
- Helping in building a high-performance Sales Organization and
- Working on improving team efficiencies and execution
Let’s talk about the first two points of detail and in the ensuing blog, we will talk about the latter two in detail.
Setting the Sales Strategy
Sales Operations is not just about the ‘doing’ or ‘execution’. It is also the setting of the ‘How to do it’ that we call as ‘strategy’. The setting of the Sales Strategy has some key elements we need to know. Here they are:
Working on an effective Go-To-Market Model
This model is a product of various functions coming together to zero in on the best model there can be, for that product, market, and organization. Sales Operations as a functional expert is a key player in determining and assessing the go-to-market model. What will be the friction element in the models that are being discussed, how likely will the model work as far as buyer interest is concerned? This data is best sourced from Sales Operations, thanks to their years of experience in sales organization management.
Evaluation of Sales Methodologies
Sales Operations Team is the team that has actually worked on the execution of the Sales Methodology. So they can play an active role in helping the leadership evaluate various sales methodologies to be adopted, based on their experience in training and compliance. Sales Operations is the function that knows which methodology has better chances of succeeding and what might fail.
Analyzing Sales Big Data
The Sales Operations team have their fingers on the ground data or field data. This helps them in playing a key role in deciding the structure of sales organization and the go-to-market model.
The Sales Operations Team can help in Sales Forecasting as they have a good experience in knowing how to use data to predict ‘the targets that can be met’. Every sales organization tries to minimize the gap between the target and the target met; here, the Sales Operations team can play a key role.
Working towards creating Sales Excellence
In helping create Sales Excellence, the Sales Operations Team plays an important role. Besides helping in implementing sales training programs, the Sales Operations team can help in selecting the right approach so that the training turns into learning, into retention of knowledge and into the application of what has been learned. The Sales Operations team can help in the training of the Sales Team in:
How to get more information about the products, customer insights and thus convert the information into value for prospects.
How to help the Sales Team to become better at Sales Performance? What are the gaps, the bottlenecks that when removed can help the salespeople in performing better? How can Sales Methodology be adjusted for the best performance?
Selling – From the customer perspective
To ensure that the sales team adds value to the customer, the sales operations team may be required to help the team with the right information, insights, and training. This helps the sales team to build a reputation for themselves as a’ trusted advisor’ and not a vendor or a seller.
Proactive Sales Mentoring
Instead of waiting for a problem to crop up, the Sales Operations team can help with assessing areas where support is needed regularly and plan for support in advance. This will help in having a calendar of mentoring that will help in a smooth sales process.