What Is Sales Operations? The Ultimate Guide To Sales Ops

What Is Sales Operations? The Ultimate Guide To Sales Ops

In today’s hyper-competitive market, sales operations are helping companies must make as much money as possible – while also helping their sales teams to perform better. As a result, some think that sales ops are a relatively new field, but the principles have been here since the beginning of sales. So if you want to capitalise on every resource you have by selling in a better way? Read on to discover our ultimate guide to sales ops, including helpful information about:

  • The key functions of sales operations
  • Ideal sales ops team structure (Including types of sales operations jobs)
  • How to prepare for a Sales Ops Manager interview
  • Key KPIs & Metrics to track in Sales Operations
  • 4 ways to develop sales operations

What is Sales Operations?

Sales operations are the set of activities and processes within any given sales organisation that support, enable, and drive sales teams to sell better, faster, and more efficiently. In essence, sales operations focus on providing strategic direction and reducing friction in the sales process, with the end goal being efficiency.

Moreover, in today’s sales operations, there is a growing focus on how technology adaptation and data analytics can further streamline sales processes to help sales reps stay on top. However, more than anything else, sales operations are responsible for bringing a system to selling that uses data to steer strategy, best practices to direct training, and technology to promote success.

Why is sales ops important?

Sales ops help to facilitate alignment and collaboration across sales, marketing, and customer success departments to positively and directly affect the organisation’s revenue. As a result, this approach comes with many benefits, including:

  • Increases sales
  • Streamlines sales processes: Using salespeople for non-sales activities isn’t efficient; sales ops helps to automate these tasks
  • Stay ahead of sales technology: Sales technology changes quickly, and the preferred sales tech stack changes all the time. Sales ops focus on keeping track of new technologies and making sure sales reps know how to use them.
  • Encourages high-productivity sales teams
  • Smoother operations management, allowing sales reps to focus on selling
  • Promotes a data-driven strategy and decision-making
  • Improves recruiting, hiring and onboarding processes

Sales Ops vs. Sales Enablement: What’s the difference?

In general, Sales Operations are responsible for technical activities associated with the business’s day-to-day sales process, like maintaining a CRM system, closely monitoring data on opportunities, leads, how many deals are closed, and managing aspects of the company-wide technology stack. 

In contrast, Sales Enablement is a broad strategy designed to drive both marketing and sales to achieve closer alignment, overcome roadblocks, and ultimately close more deals. Therefore, while sales ops and enablement are crucial roles within an organisation, they are two distinct entities. Discover their differences in more detail below:

Sales Ops vs. Sales Enablement: What's the difference?

Sales Ops vs Rev Ops: What’s the difference?

Rev Ops, also known as Revenue Operations, is an upcoming growth-driven process implemented across organisations in various industries. Overall, it works by combining four historically separate departments (sales, marketing, customer success and systems) to create a revenue-generating team focused on achieving success by aligning their goals. So what’s the defining difference between Rev Ops and Sales Ops?

Sales operations focus on specific sales activities and help create a seamless process that enables sales professionals to be productive. Overall, the typical responsibilities of sales operations include sales team organisation, data management, forecasting, cross-functional collaboration, technology management, performance management and sales enablement.

In contrast, revenue operations help sales, marketing, and customer success to do their respective jobs, create the best customer experience and provide customer service excellence. For this reason, there are four main areas of focus: operations management, enablement, insights and tech tools.

What are the key functions of sales operations?

While the composition and hierarchy of the primary role of sales operations will vary from business to business and across different industries. The overall goal is to provide valuable strategic insights that help sales teams to achieve sustainable growth, that’s why most sales operations leaders choose to perform a standard set of functions:

Strategy

As the volume of business information increased, sales ops teams evolved from manual number crunchers who originally executed sales forecasting, financial analyses, and reporting – into data analysis gatherers. As a result, sales ops teams have become reporting units that gather critical insight in the following areas:

  • Sales Process Optimisation
  • Performance Metrics Analysis
  • Incentives Program Analysis
  • Evaluation of sales training needs
  • Assessing and adopting sales methodologies
  • Selecting sales enablement software and other technology tools
  • Sales territory assignment
  • Growth forecasting

Operations

Sales operations teams also execute administrative tasks to allow salespeople like hunters to focus on what they do best. In general, these duties often include:

  • Onboarding new hires
  • Training implementation
  • Salesforce recruitment
  • Compensation and incentives program implementation
  • Contract lifecycle management

Process & Performance

Sales operations focus on streamlining processes to speed up the sales cycle. Overall enabling salespeople to close even more deals. In general, this usually includes:

  • Selection of Key Sales Metrics 
  • Training & Development (coaching/mentoring)
  • Optimisation and implementation of sales processes (e.g. Workflows, Sales Activities, Lead Generation)
  • Implementing sales frameworks/methodologies.
  • Optimisation of sales tools and technology (CRMs, automation, data analytics, client engagement and outreach)

Ideal Sales Operations team structure (Types of Sales Operations Jobs)

Thanks to so many complex and critical responsibilities, getting your sales operations team structure right is crucial. Because forming the correct team can either make or break the impact of your sales operations – so discover the ideal sales ops structure below:

VP of Sales Operations

Also known as the most senior professional within a sales operations team, the VP of sales ops mainly manages and works with sales ops managers. The role demands at least 10 years of experience within sales ops, sales enablements and other relevant senior positions. In summary, the VP of sales ops is mainly responsible for ensuring strategic alignment and managing the sales ops team.

VP of Sales Operations Skills

  • Project management skills
  • Leadership and organisational abilities.
  • Superior knowledge of industry regulations and operational procedures.
  • In-depth knowledge of data analysis and relevant software packages.
  • Working knowledge of customer relationship management (CRM) packages.

VP of Sales Operations Responsibilities

  • Designing, implementing and managing the sales forecasting, planning, and budgeting process.
  • Lead cross-functional strategic initiatives and link strategy to operations.
  • Identify untapped market potential, then develop and implement plans to capture it.
  • Enhancing sales performance by improving productivity and efficiency

Interview Questions for the VP of Sales Operations

Whether you’re looking to hire a VP of sales ops or simply want to do your best in n interview for this role – we’ve supplied 3 of the most helpful VP of sales ops interview questions to help you prepare:

Question 1: “If your team fails to meet their monthly target, how do you help them to improve?”

Quickly demonstrates the candidate’s leadership abilities.

Question 2: “What future changes do you see in our industry that will affect our sales targets?”

This question helps to test the candidate’s knowledge of the latest industry trends and developments.

Question 3: “What necessary aspects should be part of a sales training program? Why?”

Identifies the candidate’s ability to build effective sales training programs.

Sales Operations Manager

For the most part, sales operations managers’ roles are often very diverse. From supervising a sales operations specialist team to setting specific goals and KPIs, projecting revenue forecasts, and helping optimize the sales process -all of which require honed leadership skills. For example, an ideal candidate usually has around five years of experience, and thoroughly understands sales methodologies, how to drive profitable sales behaviour, and how sales processes work – alongside being skilled in data modelling and analytics.

Sales Operations Manager Skills

  • Emotional intelligence/People management experience
  • Pipeline management skills
  • Program management skills
  • Analytics and reporting experience
  • Organisational skills
  • Business Acumen

Sales Operations Manager Responsibilities

  • Overlook the sales funnel.
  • Tweaking and optimising the sales process and sales strategy.
  • Undertaking regular and accurate sales forecasting.
  • Develop organisational goals with sales leadership.
  • Manage all CRM data and relevant sales automation tools (including selecting and implementing)
  • Lead a sales operations team.

Interview questions for Sales Operations Manager

Whether you’re looking to hire a sales ops manager or simply want to do your best in the interview for this role – we’ve supplied 3 of the most helpful sales ops manager interview questions to help you prepare:

Question 1: “Can you tell me about a time you faced opposition when executing or revising a sales process? If so, what action did you take, and what was the result?”

In general, this type of sales ops manager interview question determines candidates’ level of experience with change management. As a result, candidates should use this question to show how they support teams while navigating and implementing new processes.

Question 2: “How do you identify and mitigate bottlenecks?”

Overall, this question tests candidates’ problem-solving skills and usually requires an explanation of concrete examples.

Question 3: “When did you last process and analyse a large amount of data? How did you approach the analysis, and what types of systems did you use?”

Used for uncovering the extent of data analysis skills, this question also requires solid examples of past projects alongside the candidate’s action to achieve their results.

Sales Operations Analyst

Generally speaking, sales operations analysts are more experienced sales professionals who can drive a data-driven position. As a result, the sales ops analyst is responsible for modelling, analyzing, and reporting data to send to the relevant sales executives and cross-functional peers.

Sales Operations Analyst Skills

  • Research and data analysis skills
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Projection and forecasting skills
  • Able to work independently and with teams.

Sales Operations Analyst Responsibilities

  • Product marketing
  • Data management
  • Analysing market trends
  • Producing sales reports
  • Presenting and circulating data interpretations
  • Assessing the work performance of sales representatives
  • Providing actionable insights to guide the sales and marketing teams.
  • Forecasting demand, revenue, and expenses.

Interview Questions for Sales Operations Analyst

Whether you’re looking to hire a sales op analyst or simply want to do your best in the interview for this role – we’ve supplied 3 of the most helpful sales ops analyst interview questions to help you prepare:

Question 1: “Describe your process for analysing sales data”

In general, this type of interview question uncovers the extent of the candidate’s experience, current working methods, and data analysis skills.

Question 2: “Can you tell me about a time when you made a recommendation that effectively increased sales?”

Usually reveals the extent of work experience and the ability to produce valuable and actionable insights from their research.

Question 3: “How do you monitor and project market and consumer trends?”

Often uncovers and actively demonstrates the candidate’s ability to research and forecast trends.

Sales Operations Representative

In short, the sales operations representative position is often an entry-level sales role that requires up to 2 years of experience. In general, they complete tasks like generating reports and managing the sales tech stack to support the sales manager. Overall, they should possess a strong technical aptitude, communication skills, and familiarity or willingness to learn marketing and sales automation.

Sales Operations Representative Skills

  • Strong organisational skills
  • Demonstrable communication skills
  • Outstanding attention to detail
  • Technical ability/interest
  • Familiarity with some marketing aspects

Sales Operations Representative Responsibilities

  • Support the sales ops manager and broader team by completing and managing sales administration.
  • Generating reports
  • Managing the sales technology stack.
  • Maintaining company-wide efficiency and effectiveness.

interview Questions for Sales Op Rep

Whether you’re looking to hire a sales ops rep or simply want to do your best in the interview for this role – we’ve supplied 3 of the most helpful sales operations rep interview questions to help you prepare:

Question 1: Describe a time when you successfully handled a customer complaint. How did you resolve the problem?

This type of interview question highlights sales reps interpersonal skills.

Question 2: Which of our current solutions is your favourite? Try to sell it to me right now. 

Find out if they’ve prepared for the interview while testing reps’ sales skills in objection handling, assessing needs and product knowledge.

Question 3: How do you balance meeting your sales quotas with maximising customer satisfaction?

Uncovers whether the candidate commits to providing quality service.


Key KPIs & Metrics to track in Sales Operations

While the preferred metrics will vary across sales operations teams, businesses and industries alike – there are a few key metrics that will provide valuable insights all sales ops teams can use to optimise sales processes. Discover a subset of key performance metrics perfect for evaluating past performance and improving results below:

  • Close rate: In brief, shows how well your sales team is performing. It’s calculated by taking the number of sales you make and dividing them by the number of people you pitch to. 
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): Is the amount you spend on marketing and sales divided by the number of new customers you gain over a specific time. Overall,  the less you pay to get a customer, the more they’re worth to you in the long term.
  • Customer lifetime value (LTV): is calculated by taking the average revenue per user divided by overall customer churn. Remember, the longer your customers continue buying from you, the more money you’ll make from them.
  • Sales pipeline metrics: include various measurements that present sales teams’ performance regarding how many leads and prospects are currently moving through the pipeline, as well as where exactly they are. 
  • Sales cycle length: refers to the average amount of time between a salesperson’s first interaction with a prospect and closing a deal. However, it’s worth noting that it will take a while to see a change in this KPI.
  • Time spent selling is the amount of time that sales reps spend on the phone, emailing, messaging, etc. – instead of fulfilling administrative tasks.
  • Sales forecasting: are predictions based on various models that predict how much revenue a sales team will bring in over a specific amount of time.

4 ways to develop sales operations

Ready to start developing your company’s sales operations department? Use these 4 ways below to get started:

1. Define the process

In brief, the first step to developing a sales operations department is defining how your sales ops team will work. Then continue identifying their typical tasks, and responsibilities and how to accomplish them. By doing so, you can then develop and optimize your compensation and incentive strategy and the presentation of sales reports and management of sales tools.

2. Choose the right Sales Ops KPIs

Once the overall sales operations process has been confirmed, you should focus on deciding which key KPIs & metrics you’ll use to evaluate the performance of your sales team.

3. Provide team training

Once the sales ops team is assembled, you can provide them with the necessary sales training to help them fulfil their responsibilities to their best ability. The right type of sales training will also inspire, motivate and encourage sales ops teams to overcome challenges.

4. Supply technology tools

Last, ensuring you supply the sales operations department with the right tools and technologies will assist in achieving their goals and is essential to the entire team’s success.

More about SOCO®

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