Sales Operation Roles: 101


Sales Operation Roles: 101

In our 2021 guide to sales operations, we compared the sales operations team to the conductor of an orchestra. The conductor doesn’t play an instrument, but they’re the person who brings all the different pieces of the orchestra together to create beautiful music.

The sales operations team performs essentially the same function for your sales department. A good sales operation team will not only keep your sales department functioning at maximum efficiency, but will help keep them operating at peak capacity as your company grows.

But who makes up a sales operations team? Beyond the Sales Operations Manager, what roles will you need to fill if you’re building your first team or looking to maximize the effectiveness of your current one? Will you need a director of Sales Operations?

We’ll break all of these things down in this article,

Sales Operations Roles and Functions

Before we break down specific roles and responsibilities, let’s first take a bird’s eye view of what you would want to have on a sales operations team and the functions of these positions.

Sales operations has been around since the 1970s. It was very popular at Xerox, where it was described as “all the nasty number things that you don’t want to do but need to do to make a great sales force.”

Back in those days, the sales ops team’s duties included sales forecasting, sales planning, designing compensation plans, and breaking up sales territories.

A lot has changed in the past half century.

Sales operations will still perform these duties, but they also focus extensively on increasing sales efficiency and productivity. Today’s sales ops teams are dedicated to figuring out how to build better pipelines and funnels, helping sales team members make better pitches, and a multitude of other duties.

SEE ALSO: The 2021 Guide to Sales Operations 

Here are just a few of the things modern sales operations teams manage:

  • Organizing and maintaining sales materials for reps
  • Training sales staff in all facets of the sales process
  • Tracking and reporting sales campaign results
  • Communicating news
  • Develop marketing models for products
  • Finding ways to optimize the sales process
  • Deep analytics analysis to help find opportunities
  • Interpreting that data to make it understandable to the entire company
  • Devising ways to ensure teams hit their quotas
  • Handle lead generation and appointment setting

Those are just some of the broader things a sales ops team handles. Let’s dive deeper and break them down by four key categories a great team will manage.

1. Strategy

This is a primary pillar for your sales ops team. Having the right strategy in place can dramatically impact your sales team’s success and increase your bottom line.

In this pillar, your sales op team will create the high level vision for your company’s sales process, then devise ways to make those visions a reality by creating a roadmap you can follow to success.

How will they do this? By creating forecasts, by continually refining and revising your sales process so that sales reps have all the tools they need to more effectively close deals, and by always staying on top of new technology that can make sales easier.

The strategy pillar is a vitally important part of your sales operations program. Without a plan, it’s hard to reach your destination.

2. Technology

We touched on how your sales ops team needs to be aware of new technology that can help you grow your business, but they will also handle managing your sales tech stack so that your team can spend their time selling.

Software is a huge part of sales at this point, and staying on top of new technology, learning how to effectively use it, and determining which tools are right for your business and which ones aren’t is a full-time job.

Spending the time to get this part of the sales ops process right will pay off, though. The right software and tools can dramatically improve the amount of time leads spend in your pipeline, help you close more deals, and provide better forecasts.

Because of this, you will want to make sure you have a part of your sales ops team focused on new technology. Not having one can lead to some really big missed opportunities.

3. Operations

Operations is part of the sales operations title, but it’s still worth discussing about how this pillar of your program will function and what it can bring to your sales team.

Modern sales teams are bogged down by a huge amount of operational and administrative duties. Technology can alleviate some of these issues, but your sales ops team can as well.

By reducing time spent on operational and administrative requirements, your team will have more time to generate new business and close more sales.

Here are a few of the ways where the sales ops team can help lighten the load in this pillar:

  • Contract management
  • Sales training
  • Hiring and onboarding
  • Product training

Clearly, there are even more ways the sales ops team can impact operations. The benefit here is that by handling these duties your sales people will be able to focus on the core part of their job – selling – and not worry so much about duties that aren’t generating revenue or helping them reach quotas.

4. Performance

The fourth and final pillar is performance.

One of the biggest challenges your sales team faces is in the streamlining of the sales process. The more steps involved in your sales process, the more potential hurdles and barriers your team has to overcome.

A sales operations team can help create a smoother path to success, allowing your sales professionals to achieve better results with less effort.

By implementing best practices and assigning Key Performance Indicators, your team will always know how they’re doing as far as achieving goals and where they can improve.

Beyond that, the ops team can help you generate more sales by creating better lead generation protocols as well. And they can set up the proper compensation plan to incentivize your team to increase conversions.

As you can see, sales operations plays a vital role in getting the most out of a sales department. If your team isn’t handling all of these various duties, now’s the time to refine your operations structure to get the full benefits these professionals can provide.

Sales Enablement vs. Sales Operations

At this point, you may be thinking that some of these sales operations duties sound a lot like things your sales enablement team is already handling.

This is because it’s true. There is some overlap between sales operations and sales enablement.

The first question people ask here is “Do I need sales enablement and sales operations?”

And the answer is a resounding yes.

While you could get by with one or the other, to really take control of your sales process, you will benefit from having both in place.

This is because the two different teams work synergistically. Sales enablement is essentially a component of sales operations.

Think of it this way:

Sales operations will analyze data, create strategies to reach objectives, and develop a vision for your sales team.

Sales enablement will essentially do the grunt work of rolling out those ideas and making them a reality.

In practical terms, sales enablement might look at your pipeline and discover that you’re losing customers at the top of the funnel because you’re not giving the lead the right information or content or some other thing they need to move to the next stage of the buyer’s journey.

Sales operations will take that information and figure out how to solve this problem.

The two disciplines work hand in hand to solve issues. Enablement often comes into play earlier in the buying process, while operations tends to focus more on what things will close deals most effectively.

For maximum effectiveness, it’s best to have both sales enablement and sales operations working together in unison.

To make this happen, you should set clear objectives for each team – including KPIs and other performance metrics – and then check in periodically to make sure they’re not doubling up on certain tasks.

SEE ALSO: Sales Operations vs. Sales Enablement: What’s the Difference? 

Key Sales Operations Metrics

Since one of the core responsibilities of your sales operations team is creating strategy based on data analysis, you’ll want to track a wide range of metrics.

Tracking these performance indicators will allow you determine where there is room for improvement. They will also show you how your sales team is performing, and areas where you might streamline processes for greater efficiency.

Tracking these nine metrics will give your sales ops team valuable insights into the state of your business. Beyond that, they’ll provide actionable information to help your sales team hit their marks.

The metrics we suggest you track will give you a complete overview of your sales department – from hiring new team members to closing sales.

1. Training

Training is one of the most commonly overlooked facets of sales. We tend to assume if we hire qualified candidates, they’re ready to go out and succeed. This isn’t always the case, though. Even the biggest rock star sellers on your team can benefit from additional training.

Make sure everyone on your team is receiving regular ongoing training by keeping track of this metric. Regular training generates up to 50% net sales per employee.

2. Employee Retention Rates

Did you know the average sales turnover rate is 25%? You would if you tracked your employee hire and retention rate.

Tracking this metric (which, in a perfect world, would hover around 10% as opposed to 25%) can help you figure out when to hire, how many sales pros to add to your team, and how that might affect your quota.

Beyond that, if you have an unusually high turnover rate, there’s probably a reason. Figuring out why people are leaving can help you solve the turnover problem.

3. CRM Usage

Are you keeping tabs on how often your sales people are using the CRM? If not, you could be missing out on ways to make them more effective and efficient.

Understanding the time spent selling versus the time spent entering administrative data into the CRM can help you understand how team members are using their time.

In an ideal sales situation, you want your sales team selling, not doing administrative tasks. If CRM data entry is eating up too much time, you can find ways to streamline this process.

4. Win Rate

Win rate is one of those metrics that everyone should know. Knowing what percentage of leads become sales and the average value of each deal allows you to create more accurate forecasts.

Once you know this metric, it’s vitally important to keep tracking win rate over time.

The value of this metric can’t be overstated. We suspect that the vast majority of you reading this are already tracking your win rate, but it bears mentioning here regardless.

5. Average Sales Price

Average sales price or average deal value is another non-negotiable metric. This one will help you understand just how effective your sales process is.

Whether you’re measuring this in the most superficial way, or breaking it down by lead source, this stat will allow you better prioritize your leads based on which ones will bring the best financial returns.

6. Sales Cycle

Knowing the win rate and average sales price is great, but you’ll also want to track your sales cycle.

Knowing how long it takes to sell a product – from the time it enters the pipeline to completed sale – is invaluable.

Understanding sales cycles and sales velocity will allow you to create better forecasts for the road ahead.

Analyzing your sales cycle can show you places where your team may be bogging down. Finding these pain points allows you find ways to correct them, generating more wins in less time.

7. Pipeline Forecast

We’ve written entire articles about the value of pipeline forecasting, but the key takeaway is that a good forecast allows you to understand what to expect for the weeks, months, and quarters ahead.

Armed with this information, you can again spot potential issues and revise KPIs accordingly.

8. Outreach Effectiveness

Outreach is one of the key ways companies generate new leads, but too often we just assume our outreach approaches are working as well as they can.

A good sales operation team will be monitoring the company’s outreach effectiveness rate. This let’s you know if your scripts and process are working or coming up short.

Beyond that, tracking a rep’s touch counts (how many times he or she interacts with a lead over time) can show you if the rep is using their time effectively. It can also provide insight into whether or not they’re over-nurturing leads, or not initiating enough contact to take them to the next stage of the funnel.

9. Lead Response Time

And finally, we come to our last metric – lead response time.

Are your sales reps responding to customers in a timely fashion? If not, this could be a cause for lost sales. Tracking lead response times means you’ll understand how long it takes your team to respond to a contact from a lead. Set a timeframe and then measure what percentage of contacts fall into that span.

If your reps aren’t responding quickly enough, find out why. This could reveal a problem with their time management, the amount of administrative work they have to complete, or the fact that you need to hire additional reps.

SEE ALSO: How Analytics Can Help Elevate Sales Operations from Tactical to Strategic 

Final Thoughts

If the sales department is the heart of your business, then your sales operations team is the brain.

While there’s a lot of crossover between sales operations and sales enablement, both disciplines are key to creating a sales department that ticks along like a finely tuned watch.

Your sales operations team will play a vital role in allowing you to forecast future business goals, refining processes for efficiency, and ensuring that the numbers behind the goals make sense.

Because of this, assembling your sales operation team is not something to take lightly.

With the core duties your sales operation team should fulfill outlined in this article, along with the key metrics you need to track, figuring out whom you need to hire and what skillsets they need should be far less daunting.

Using this article as a baseline, you can build a top tier sales operation team and have it up and running in no time. If you need help, we’re here for you!

Want to learn more about sales operations, sales enablement, and how to take your sales department to the next level? Then be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss our latest posts!

Accent Technologies is the first and only SaaS company to bring together Sales AI and Content Management in a true Revenue Enablement Platform. We provide both sales and marketing with better visibility into the performance of their teams. This drives revenue through intelligent recommendations for complex sales scenarios and provides the data for rich analytics that power better coaching, forecasting, and long-term customer support. Learn more about our solutions or request a live demo to see it in action.

By Accent Technologies

15th February 2021

Sales Operations the Accent Way

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