Not long ago, the stereotypical sales team might have been recognized for its confidence, social skills, or ability to close deals. While closing deals is still important, the sales discipline is quickly evolving from an art into a science.
The sales team is also more connected to other areas of the business than ever. Companies have discovered that when marketing, sales, and customer success teams work together as a single unit, they can drive revenue and customer satisfaction.
Enter “sales ops,” or sales operations. Sales ops is a set of practices that help your company achieve its business objectives more effectively, but it can also manifest as an entire team of professionals whose job is to improve your sales processes. At many companies, sales ops teams are inhabited by specialized experts.
Here’s what you need to know about sales ops and your next hire for the discipline.
What is Sales Ops?
Sales ops originally performed functions related to data analysis and forecasting, but its role has expanded as companies have realized how important it is to their success. Today, the function is still highly invested in measuring and optimizing sales processes based on performance metrics, but it also develops and helps implement improvements to the company’s sales processes.
Sales ops teams may also work to incorporate new technologies into the sales process as part of their strategy improvements. For example, they could introduce new types of sales automations to make sales processes operate faster and more accurately. They could introduce new reporting and attribution platforms to help sales teams identify successful and unsuccessful campaigns, channels, and types of engagement.
The best way to think about sales ops is that it occupies a space outside of the hands-on world of the sales department. Instead of working sales processes directly, sales ops works outside of the company’s sales processes, analyzing them and improving them so that they can function more effectively.
It’s for this reason that you can’t depend on a marketing or general operations team to serve as your sales ops function. The sales ops unit brings systemic improvements and best practices to your sales function, so you need individuals who are specialized in sale, sales technology, and data analysis to populate it.
Why is Sales Ops Important?
A typical sales manager is usually involved in coordinating day-to-day sales activities and rarely has the time to step back and look at the sales system holistically. Sales Ops is important because it creates a separate team that can examine your sales processes from an objective standpoint. That team can form an evaluation of your sales processes, then create a plan to improve them.
This has a direct impact on your sales team and their success. With guidance from sales ops, your salespeople can introduce new strategies and processes into their work in a sustainable way, then rely on sales ops to measure the results of those changes.
Sales ops has an impact on your other departments as well, such as your marketing team.
Your sales ops team can work closely with your marketing team to coordinate lead generation efforts and create a better structure between the two. According to HubSpot, sales operations teams can even ensure there is clarity around responsibilities and communication between sales and marketing teams through the development of a service level agreement (SLA) between the two functions.
Inevitably, sales ops has an impact on your revenue operations (RevOps) and the success of your company in general.
Sales ops is a core component of RevOps. RevOps seeks to improve the way your departments work together to generate revenue. Sales ops works to create efficiency and improvements to your sales processes and align them with other departments and your business strategy.
If your company is serious about RevOps, it needs a strong sales ops component to back it up.
What Does a Sales Ops Hire Look Like?
Depending on the size of your company, sales ops responsibilities may fall to a single individual or a dedicated team.
Generally, sales ops professionals need skills in some or all the following:
- Data analysis and management
- Lead generation
- Sales forecasting
- Sales strategy
- Team management
Sales ops team members are responsible for improving your company’s sales processes, so a good understanding of sales is important. However, a background in sales may not always be necessary for a role in sales ops.
For example, you could have a team member who specializes specifically in implementing new technologies, and that role may be better staffed by someone with a technology background. Likewise, you could partner with an external integration team or agency to get up-to-date expertise in selecting technology or guidance on how to integrate it into your processes.
Your sales ops team may also be responsible for building reports from the data they’ve gathered through your sales technology, so a background in data is always beneficial. At the very least, you need an individual or team of individuals who can coordinate with your sales team to analyze data and implement changes.
Deploy Your Sales Ops Initiative with A8
Sales operations can help your company make gradual but impactful changes to its sales strategy, but you need the right skills and team members in place to make it work. Whether you just need some help implementing your sales technologies or need help developing your sales ops team from scratch, you don’t have to deploy your initiative alone.
Contact us at A8 to learn more about our sales ops and technology integration capabilities.