Introduction to Sales Operations

By Vishal Sunak

High performing Sales teams know that in order to succeed they need the best data, technology and strongest relationships within the company. Those needs are being addressed by a function known as Sales Operations. This blog post will provide an introduction to Sales Operations. Also, if you want to know what technology the modern Sales team is using check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Sales Technology Stack blog post series.

So what is Sales Operations? Well my definition is simple: The support and enablement of Sales through process, technology, data and relationships.

Let’s dig into each of those categories listed. Most high performing Sales teams follow a well defined process, and its Sales Operations responsibility to make sure that Sales Management has the data it needs to be able to see how the sales process is being enabled. This is why Sales Operations usually encompasses the administration of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. The CRM will provide the data regarding incoming leads, pipeline of deals and activity logging to be able to know how the Sales reps are performing against the sales process.

On the technology side, Sales Operations is responsible for researching, testing and purchasing tools for sales reps to use. Tools for sales reps have many different focus areas depending on the business, but here are a few examples: prospect more leads, create send and negotiation sales contracts, create quotes, log activities, and track emails.

Sales Operations should ensure that Sales, as a function has the best data in the company by enforcing the practice of capturing this data. For example, when a deal closes Finance will require all the deal terms to be able to recognize the revenue in a general ledger. Same for when a deal is lost due to a missing feature, communicating the information to the Product development team will help position the roadmap for future development. Lastly, Sales Operations will provide analyses on revenue by location/customer size/industry/product as well as the metrics around cancellations so that the management team can address issues, see trends and be able to forecast future revenue.

Lastly, Sales Operations must help all the relationships that Sales has with the rest of the company. Classically, Sales Operations has helped with the alignment of Sales and Marketing but it doesn’t end there. Forward leaning B2B companies rely on Sales to bridge the gap to Engineering, Account Management, Finance, Product development and Customer Support. There is no function in the company that does not have a cog in the Sales engine and it's up to Sales Operations to make sure friction is eliminated.

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