New clients are the lifeblood of every SaaS business.
However, getting sales becomes increasingly difficult as new competitors keep hitting the market. And the truth is, even if you already have plenty of recurring clients, you’ll never get your churn rate to 0%.
To survive, you need to keep onboarding new users.
That’s why most SaaS businesses go beyond having “just a sales team”.
Let’s face it. You aren’t interested in just surviving, right? Your goal is to keep growing your SaaS and outperform your competitors.
And one of the things that can help you boost that efficiency is Sales Operations.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into how you can get the most out of Sales Operations and accelerate your pipeline.
But first, let’s take a quick look at the sales operations function.
What is SalesOps?
Typically, SalesOps is responsible for some of the critical elements of sales and marketing operations. The core goal of SalesOps is to streamline sales processes, making the work of your sales reps easier.
However, even though they deal with sales, SalesOps members don’t work with potential clients.
Instead, all the work is done behind the scenes.
Its members create a strategy and optimize processes and workflows. They also take care of sales technology, collect data, and even deal with some of the paperwork. To achieve the best results, they often work with other functions, such as RevOps. In doing so, they exchange insights and data§ and aim to align the goals of different departments.
They do all that to boost the efficiency of your field sales team and free up their time. They can use the time to work with (and close) clients. All that to help your sales reps close more deals.
Considering their impact on sales, it’s no surprise that SalesOps’s been the fastest-growing sales function. Between 2018 and 2020, they grew 4.8x faster than the overall sales function.
But, simply deploying SalesOps is just the first step to getting all the benefits.
To get the most out of your investment, there are certain things you need to do to make the function effective.
Here are 21 sales operations best practices, every SaaS should implement. All are split into three categories – core, tech, and collaboration best practices.
Core sales operations best practices
In the first category, we take a quick look at all best practices that help you improve key functions of your SalesOperations.
1. Define clear objectives and purpose for your sales ops
Like any operational function, the SalesOps team needs a clear direction to know where they’re going. The first step to giving them that direction is a mission statement.
Ideally, you want it to be short, to-the-point, and easy to understand. Its goal is to tell your team which way to go and encourage them to keep improving. It should also emphasize and explain your company’s core values.
Together with the mission, you want to define a clear set of objectives for your SalesOps.
These goals should help you create and implement a long-term SalesOps strategy. This, in turn, is key to achieving your SalesOps goals and increasing your sales reps’ efficiency.
2. Work on reducing the overhead
As mentioned earlier, one of the core SalesOps functions is to allow sales reps to focus on selling. After all, it’s what they do best (and what you pay them to do).
That way, you allow them to work on more leads and turn more people into new clients.
This, in turn, is one of the keys to maximizing your field sales team efficiency.
But, that’s not the only benefit of reducing the overhead.
Reducing overhead means lower costs. And those lower costs directly impact your sales team’s ROI. Especially if that reduction is achieved together with streamlining processes and increasing efficiency.
In fact, according to Forbes, an overhead cut can have a higher impact on profits than a similar boost in sales. According to Gartner, a 5% reduction in operating costs can have the same impact as a 30% increase in sales.
3. Ensure there’s an accountability system in place
Every business department, function, and team needs an accountability system. If you lack it, it doesn’t matter which of the other sales operations best practices you implement.
Most likely, you won’t end up implementing any. You may even fail to create the SalesOps function altogether. Why?
The lack of accountability leads to low team morale and poor company culture. If there’s no accountability, why bother going the extra mile. It’s often followed by poor execution and management misbehavior.
That means you won’t get the most out of your sales operations. You most likely won’t be able to attract and keep quality team members, too. All this will lead to high turnover and much higher costs than you’d have if you had an accountability system.
4. Pick strong leaders and ensure people understand who they report to
One of the ways to ensure said accountability is to have a strong leader that your SalesOps team can look up to.
They ensure each team member knows their responsibilities and follows the priorities. It also gives each team member a clear understanding of who they should report to. That’s assuming that you have a clear leadership structure – which is a good management practice.
Additionally, a strong leader knows how to motivate the team. They understand what kind of feedback works best and will motivate people. They also help people understand and follow the SalesOps mission (as well as help them stay focused on long-term goals).
All this boosts execution, increases engagement and builds trust. And all this is key to getting more work done and achieving the company’s goals faster.
5. Assist in regular performance checks of the sales team
SalesOps works hard to help sales reps become more efficient and reach their sales goals. First, they help pick the tools that measure SalesOps performance. They also handle sales reps’ data and (sometimes) even help pick the metrics.
However, they rarely take part in performance checks of the sales team.
Yet, such participation could help SalesOps understand how performance is measured. It tells them what feedback sales reps need from them. And most importantly, it provides them with data and insights that pure numbers can’t.
It’s also an opportunity for all teams involved to exchange insights. Especially that, SalesOps aren’t the only team that can benefit from such participation. Another team that could join the two is RevOps.
6. Determine incentives for the sales force
Because Sales Operations have access to all the data, they can use it to help incentivize their work. How?
First, they help the field sales team set more accurate sales goals. Then, they can track and find top performers. By adjusting the goals, they can indirectly motivate sales reps to keep pushing.
SalesOps can use data to develop incentives and compensations for sales reps.
And, because they can access any data they need, they can go beyond “generalized” incentives.
They can work on personalizing them for each sales rep, giving them even more motivation to do the work. This, in turn, helps boost the performance of the whole field sales team.
Data shows that incentives are important not just for top-performers. When you create personalized incentives, you increase average sales across the board:
7. Stop relying on quick fixes
From time to time, your SalesOps or sales field team will run into issues. There will be problems that you’ll want to solve as quickly as possible.
In most cases, it’ll be tempting to find a quick fix and keep going. And while it may be a good idea short-term, quick fixes often do more harm than good long-term. Not to mention they often don’t work at all.
That’s why relying on quick fixes is the fastest way to kill sales).
First, quick fixes are short-term solutions. They usually lead to more problems down the line.
As a result, relying on them too much hurts company processes and culture. Moreover, one quick fix usually leads to another. After some time, you have to develop new “band-aid solutions” for your past quick fixes.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them at all. Some can save you time and money short term.
But, any time you use one, you want to create a time block that you can then use to dig deep into the core of the problem. The goal should be to find a long-term, sustainable solution and avoid the problem in the future.
8. Identify negative trends before they lead to losses
No business operates in a static environment. Even the best teams suffer from fluctuating performance. Carefully watching internal and external trends is key to avoiding serious performance drops.
Moreover, keeping an eye on the data allows you to adjust your strategy in time to avoid bottlenecks.
For example, a drop in close ratio may signify a problem at the very bottom of your sales funnel. It’s also key to finding sales reps who may need help or targeting underperforming sales territories.
All that allows you to find long-term fixes or prepare for market changes. This, in turn, is key to avoiding a situation where you have to rely on quick fixes to keep your company going.
9. Take responsibility for sales territories
To maximize sales reps’ performance, never assign sales territories randomly. Surprisingly, many companies lack any cohesive plan for managing their sales territories. It’s quite common for businesses to assign them on a first-come-first-served basis.
Yet, sales territories are one of the critical factors determining sales reps’ results.
They relate to available prospects and (usually) commissions and incentives. This, in turn, impacts sales team effectiveness.
Where SalesOps can help you is they can use data to ensure sales reps are assigned to the right territories. It also ensures that high-performing salespeople stay in the right territories.
And when sales reps have the time to learn the territory they’re working in, it’s easier for them to build trust. And according to the Ultimate Sales Operations Report by Dealhub, trust is a critical factor for 51% of decision-makers.
Tech and data best practices
The next category of sales operations best practices are data and technology.
In the past several years, technology has revolutionized the way SalesOps manages data. Still, many businesses don’t know how to utilize available technology. As a result, there’s a huge opportunity waiting for all those that do.
10. Invest in the right tools – but don’t just chase the next shiny object.
According to the Salesforce State of Sales report, sales reps spend just 34% of their time selling. But, it’s hardly a surprise if you think that 32% of B2B companies move Sales and Marketing data manually:
The role of SalesOps is to pick tools that can help boost that time as much as possible.
But, even though there are just a few key types of tools that SalesOps needs to look at, picking them is not easy. In fact, 81% of SalesOps professionals admit their technology needs changed significantly in just three years. So, what tools should your SalesOps team use?
Key tools include those to manage customer relationships, contract lifecycle, or performance.
The other two categories that have been growing rapidly are CFWM and CPQ platforms. The former are so-called cross-functional workstream management platforms. Their role is to help sales operations become a bridge between different departments.
Data shows that, on average, 48% of sales ops teams used them to increase their cross-functional workstream management. This is true especially for top-performing sales teams:
CPQ is an acronym for configure, price, and quote. CPQ tools help companies generate accurate quotes for orders. They use pre-programmed rules, often personalized for each account. CPQ platforms ensure accuracy.
That accuracy and 10x faster quote generation are key reasons why CPQs are so popular. The right implementation of CPQ leads to a 48% revenue growth rate, followed by a 57% growth rate in margins.
However, even though these stats sound impressive, you shouldn’t just jump on the first CPQ tool out there. Nor should you pick any tool with fancy features.
Rather, you want to pick tools that your SalesOps team actually needs. Don’t just chase fancy features.
First, ensure the tools and features align with your sales strategy. Then, look at your tech stack and try to pick tools that integrate with your current stack.
11. Integrate your sales technology stack with your CRM.
Integrations are a secret weapon of every tool your SalesOps has in its arsenal.
They allow you to take the data or features of one tool and use it to enhance another one. Often, integrations benefit both tools, making each of them more powerful.
A great example of a powerful tool (when integrated correctly) is marketing automation.
For example, Encharge allows you to integrate dozens of other tools, saving you countless hours of your time:
By integrating Encharge with tools such as HubSpot or Salesforce, you can exchange valuable data between them in seconds.
Encharge Salesforce integration allows you to sync user data right into your Salesforce account. Similarly, HubSpot integration lets you build hyper-targeted audience segments. And the best is that such segments combine data from both HubSpot and Encharge.
Lastly, where integrations can help you is they can automate the exchange of data between SalesOps and the field sales team.
12. Keep an eye on the right metrics
Collecting data is one of the main actions your SalesOps performs to achieve its goals (and help the field sales team achieve theirs). But, which metrics to track?
Most of the time, your key metrics will depend on the goals of your company. However, there are a few that are important for every SalesOps function – no matter the business.
CPL (Cost per Lead) and CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)
These two metrics tell you how much it costs to acquire your leads and customers. Optimizing them is one of the ways to boost your profitability.
Understand sales time vs. overhead time
How much time does your team spend selling compared to dealing with paperwork? Knowing this is the first step to finding time savings (and improving team efficiency).
CLV (Customer Lifetime Value)
Acquisition cost alone doesn’t give you the full picture. Lifetime customer value lets you optimize CAC without losing profitability.
Average cycle length
The longer it takes your sales team to close the deal, the fewer people they get to close. Tracking ACL helps you spot funnel inefficiencies and speed up the sales process.
This metric tells you the percentage of transactions your salespeople close. Tracking this metric across different segments helps you see where you’re losing transactions. Understanding it is the first step to knowing why you’re losing and fixing the issues. It also enables you to evaluate your performance against your competitors.
Sales reps’ training time
Every sales team suffers from sales reps turnover. One of the ways to offset the losses is to optimize the time it takes to train new sales reps.
Forecasts tell you how well your sales team can predict sales. Low forecast accuracy indicates problems in data management or collaboration with sales.
Tracking metrics is just the beginning. The goal of SalesOps isn’t just to track revenue. Rather, the team should work on using the data to predict future sales. This data can be shared with RevOps. Once they get it, they can create revenue forecasts.
13. Avoid vanity metrics
Tracking the right things is just half of the battle. Additionally, you want to ensure that you don’t build your sales strategy based on vanity metrics.
Common vanity metrics to avoid include page or video views, likes, or followers. Why are they so popular? First, they look good on paper and are easy to present to non-technical stakeholders.
Moreover, getting likes simply feels good. The problem with them is that they don’t give you any insights into how well your sales funnel is performing. As a result, it’s impossible to tell if your actions help you get more sales.
14. Aim to automate non-core tasks
Marketing automation is one of the most powerful tools in your SalesOps toolkit. Getting the right tools can speed up sales processes and free up your sales reps’ time.
For example, Encharge’s marketing automation for SaaS allows you to build workflows that help you convert new customers. You can also use them to retain existing customers or onboard trial users.
Thanks to that, part of the sales team’s job can be done fully automatically, behind the scenes. This means that your sales reps can spend their time doing what they do best – closing new deals.
To get the most out of marketing automation, use data to identify the biggest timesinks.
Then, find tools to help you automate as many marketing and sales tasks as possible.
15. Have clear procedures for managing and cleaning data
Lastly, no technology will benefit you if you don’t take care of the #1 asset most of those tools give you – the data.
Data is crucial in sales. Yet, 33% of SalesOps pros say their sales planning processes still aren’t led by data-driven inputs.
What many teams forget is that data is not just the contact details of your leads.
First, it allows you to set a data-driven strategy. Moreover, it tells you which people to process and how far they’re in the funnel.
It also lets you pick the right actions for each lead and tells you when to aim for a sale. As a result, it helps you close people with more precision. Thanks to that, you lose way fewer sales opportunities.
But, simply collecting data is not enough to enjoy all those benefits. You also must create clear procedures to ensure that all that data gets reviewed and cleaned up.
Clean data ensures your sales reps don’t work with invalid leads. It’s also key to drawing correct insights which help you move your business forward.
Collaboration best practices
The last category is all about sales operations working with other teams. Smart collaboration gives your SalesOps access to the most accurate data and insights.
It’s also key to creating a synergy effect, allowing you to achieve more with the same effort.
16. Perform weekly and quarterly team syncs
To get the most out of your cooperation with other teams, you can’t leave the exchange of information to chance. Instead, create a clear and regular process around it.
A great way to ensure everyone’s on the same page is to schedule regular syncs with other operational teams. For example, you can meet weekly to discuss the latest events, weekly goals, and fresh insights.
Then, schedule a quarterly meeting to talk about any strategic or long-term issues.
This is also a great way to reduce unnecessary, midweek and midday meetings. Especially that, such meetings are the #1 time-waster in sales:
17. Shadow the sales team
Your SalesOps function is the silent force that’s driving sales reps’ success. However, because most of what SalesOps works with is data, they rarely see the full picture.
To fix this, you want your SalesOps team to shadow sales reps – ideally, on a regular basis. This helps SalesOps professionals better understand the challenges that field salespeople face. Additionally, regular shadowing helps strengthen the relationship between the two teams.
This, in turn, improves mutual collaboration and helps boost the exchange of information.
18.Ensure SalesOps leaders and sales team leaders collaborate on strategy
The more data and insights you have, the better strategy you can set. And if there’s one function that owns (or at least should) most of the sales data, it’s SalesOps.
It’s no surprise that 85% of sales professionals say that the sales ops role has become more strategic. Especially since the pandemic. And there’s a way to take advantage of that more strategic approach.
For example, it’s usually the sales team that’s responsible for the core sales strategy. However, they don’t have to be the only ones.
If possible, encourage SalesOps to share their work on strategy with other stakeholders. Ideally, they should team up with sales executives, who can share field insights. That way, the field experience of sales reps gets mixed with data-driven insights of sales ops.
19. Align sales and marketing
Collaboration between sales and marketing is vital to giving SalesOps key data. Also, exchanging insights between the two teams is vital to understanding that data.
That’s why your SalesOps team must cooperate with core revenue-driving teams. And the #1 team (outside of sales) they should collaborate with is RevOps. Why?
First, close cooperation between the two is key to aligning your sales and marketing goals.
This, in turn, helps you solve several key problems. First, it gives marketing better insight into what leads your sales team needs (and when to hand them over). Additionally, it helps simplify processes and workflows between the two teams.
As a result, the two teams can work faster and more effectively. This, in turn, reduces the overall cost of acquiring new customers.
20. Don’t mix sales operations with sales enablement
The roles of sales operations are not set in stone. Usually, they depend on the growth stage that your business is in, its strategy, and internal structure. In some companies, sales operations work hand-in-hand with sales enablement.
What’s the difference between the two?
Sales enablement is about equipping sales reps with tools. For example, they create (or, at least, approve), the content that sales reps share to create a powerful pitch. They also give sales reps guidance needed to work with prospects and (often) train them.
But, their actual participation in the customer lifecycle depends on the company. And, more specifically, on its leadership. Here’s how that participation depends on whether the leader is a visionary:
Unlike sales enablement, SalesOps doesn’t focus on day-to-day activities. Rather, they focus on the big picture: collecting data and creating strategy.
And while initially, SalesOps handles some of the sales enablement work – it’s good practice to split the two. In fact, it’s best to do it as soon as there’s enough work to justify the move.
21. Help teams develop their skills
In #20, we mentioned how sales enablement usually handles training new sales reps. However, while SalesOps doesn’t take part in training, they can still take ownership of nurturing talent. How?
It all comes down to the data they handle. SalesOps pros can use it to help pick talent, nurture it, and create opportunities for new sales reps to grow.
They can also help sales enablement spot where sales reps are lacking. Then, they can assist them in choosing the right steps to improve the situation.
Take your sales operations to the next level
As you can see, you can do plenty to get more out of your sales operations team. However, some SalesOps best practices are easier to implement than others.
And with the advance in technology, it sometimes takes just one tool to achieve tremendous results. Of course, that’s assuming it suits your sales strategy.
One of the fastest ways to supercharge your sales operations is marketing automation. And, if you’re wondering how exactly automation can help your SalesOps team boost your sales, we can help.Simply schedule a quick call with our team. Let’s talk about how Encharge can help your business accelerate its sales pipeline.