If your sales team needs effective systems to be more productive and efficient, then the odds are they need a sales operations manager.
Or, maybe, you’re looking to become a sales operations manager yourself. The truth is that sales operations managers are vital to the success and functionality of a sales team. If you are a critical thinker and like to work in a system, you’re probably the right fit for the job.
Whether you’re looking to hire one or want to become one yourself, a sales operation manager role comes with many details and responsibilities that you might want to consider in your ventures.
The goal today is to go through some of these responsibilities, give some example tasks, and even break down the role into basics.
What does a sales operations manager do?
The job description of a sales operations manager characterizes them as being responsible for the necessary technology, tools, processes, and support that a company’s sales team needs to succeed.
According to the job description that Glassdoor promotes, the sales operations manager will be working heavily with the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. A sales operations manager has impeccable project management skills and can pick up and run any project thrown at them. They are self-sufficient and need very little (if any) guidance to get the job done. They are leaders in their realm and act on their experience alone.
No single day as a sales operation manager will be the same as the last. Their duties range from guidance for sales operations processes and market trends to creating resources and tracking individual records’ sales data. They are excellent multitaskers and are often caught up in multiple projects at once. These projects usually involve multiple parties and numerous stakeholders ranging from HR, finance, strategic teams, marketing, and more.
All-in-all, you can summarize the job of a sales operations manager as someone who optimizes resources, strategies, and other systems for the sales team in each step of the sales funnel.
Sales operations manager job description
If you search online, there are many places where you can either apply for a sales operations manager position or hire one yourself. Everyone might be looking for something a little different. Still, to fully understand this role, it’s essential to look at some of these job descriptions from various online job platforms and see what kind of responsibilities, compensation, and benefits this role demands.
Sales operation manager job description from Monster
Monster.com is a go-to premium platform where professionals of many categories hire and look for a job. Although each position is slightly different, here is an example description for a sales operations position at Uline:
Sales operations manager job description from LinkedIn
LinkedIn s another great place for hopeful new hires and companies looking for talent alike. Thousand upon thousands of jobs are uploaded daily, including open sales operations manager positions.
Here’s an example of a sales ops manager job description for Udemy:
Above, we have only two examples out of thousands. Depending on location and level of experience, there are a few differences that we’ve noticed across multiple platforms. You can expect the compensation to be between $90,000 and $130,000.
A common theme amongst all the job descriptions was the extreme sense of importance within this role. As the sales operations manager, you possess a very high-level position that requires you to connect, communicate, and work closely with high-level stakeholders and executives.
Another prevalent theme with the sales operations manager, no matter what platform you’re on, is the level of education and experience required by the employer. At a minimum, you’re expected to have a bachelor’s degree, but in many cases, a master’s is preferred. This is simply because the position requires a high-level understanding of sales processes and advanced business functions.
The 5 key responsibilities of a sales operations manager
Although the responsibilities of a sales operations manager can vary wildly from day to day, you can categorize them into five different areas.
1. Get accurate and real-time visibility of team performance
Every sales representative has their own goals for the month, quarter, year, etc., but they all work as a team for the company’s greater good. If you aren’t setting team goals, it might be time to start.
An integral part of being a sales operations manager is gathering data and viewing the team as a whole, as well as ofcusing on the individuals within the team. This will help you visualize the individual’s goals and how they work with the team’s goals.
2. Compare individual sales performance within the team
As important as the whole team’s performance is, a chain is only as good as its weakest link. That’s not to say that you have sales reps holding anyone back, but it is to highlight that you, as a sales operation manager, need to be tracking and analyzing individual sales performance, too.
3. Forecast to help your reps work together
Forecasting is a huge part of being a sales operations manager; it should never go unchecked. Accurate forecasting helps the sales team keep up with budgets and their goals. If you’re setting unrealistic goals beyond what’s actually possible, sales reps won’t be happy and won’t perform well.
4. Create and communicate goals
Goals are a big part of being a sales operations manager. You have to not only create and share them, but you have to understand what’s realistic and compensate the sales reps when they reach them.
5. Maintain the right tools
Without the arsenal of tools we all have access to nowadays, sales would be a nightmare. Luckily, we have access to said tools, and it’s your job as a sales operations manager to pick the ones that fit your sales team well and maintain them. Tools like CRM, email automation tools, and more need to be well looked after.
We’ve covered these five key responsibilities in another article, so if you want more details on each one of these points, make sure to check it out — Sales Operations Responsibilities: Roles, duties, and obstacles.
For now, let’s get back into what sales operations managers do.
Tasks for sales operations managers
Sales operations managers have a lot on their plate. Their territory of expertise covers a lot of ground, and nailing down a consistent daily schedule might be a little easier said than done.
That said, there are plenty of consistent tasks that a sales operation manager might find themselves doing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. In no particular order of importance, here are some example tasks for sales operations managers:
- Implementing processes and procedures for maintaining functioning CRM systems.
- Creating processes and executing territory alignment and management.
- Creating, updating, and managing customer profiles and user personas.
- Designing compensation plans and evaluating their effectiveness.
- Implementing process automation where needed/possible.
- Creating long and short-term revenue-generating strategies and putting them into place.
- Tracking and analyzing sales operation KPIs and metrics.
- Overseeing customer onboarding and product training.
- Overseeing new hire onboarding and product training.
- Analyzing and reporting on quarterly sales activities and performance.
- Managing and improving sales forecasting.
- Managing the sales tech stack.
On any given day, the sales ops manager may participate in any of the abovementioned tasks. On the flip side, your sales team might be a little more integrated into the management process, and the sales operations manager may just oversee many of these processes.
In reality, the sales ops manager acts as a middle-man of sorts. They connect the dots between many of the stakeholders that need access to sales data. People like the sales ops team, sales reps, marketing, and its micro-departments, and upper-level management all might need access to this sort of data, and the sales operations manager is the person they need to go to.
When do you need a sales operations manager?
You might be asking yourself if a sales operations manager is even needed within your sales team. If you’ve never had such a position within the company before, how can you be certain that it’s necessary?
Sales operations manager positions are typically found within large-scale enterprise companies or start-ups looking to scale quickly and have the budget to do so.
As you can see from the salary examples above, not every company has the resources to hire such a position. If that sounds like you, don’t panic! While we can certainly see the impact that a sales ops manager can make, if it doesn’t make sense budget-wise, then it might not be worth it to break the bank.
That said, if you are looking to scale and you do have the budget, then there are four major things to look for in your sales process that will help you decide whether or not to hire a sales operations manager. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Your team has lots of training, but no results
Companies often invest a lot of money into their sales team to provide them with the proper training they need to produce the results they’re looking for. If you believe that you’ve provided such training but aren’t seeing the results you want, then you might need to invest in a sales ops manager.
A good sales operations manager can implement adequate training and oversee the completion of various certifications to help align your sales team with your sales process.
2. You create reasonable goals, but you fall short
Much like the training above, if you and the sales team are setting what you believe to be reasonable goals but seem to fall short quarter after quarter, it might be time to bring a sales operations manager on board.
Sales operations managers look closely at your processes and provide accurate forecasting to ensure your goals are reasonable. Your team actually has the steam it needs to reach those goals.
3. Your team has frequent turnovers or structure changes
People come and go, even on a world-class sales team. But if you find yourself having to onboard new hires in the sales team frequently, then there might be a significant disconnect between management and sales.
A sales ops manager can help connect those dots like we mentioned above between the sales team and other stakeholders and get everyone on the same page. This can help reduce turnovers and significant structural changes that can harm your sales team’s effectiveness and productivity.
4. Your sales team is not consistent across the board
Consistency is a vital part of accurate sales forecasting. And although not every customer is the same, each and every one of your sales reps should be able to make sales consistently.
There will be good days and bad days, slow weeks and weeks where you can’t keep your head on straight from all the incoming sales, but overall, your team needs to be running like clockwork. Perhaps you have some consistent reps on the team and some that aren’t. Or maybe you can’t point out any consistency anywhere. Whatever the case, a sales operations manager can inject some much-needed consistency with a solid foundation for a sales process.
If you meet any of these requirements, I highly suggest hiring a sales operations manager. If left unattended, any of these points above can become a huge problem. The longer you wait, the more it can harm sales productivity.
How do you hire a sales operations manager?
So, you’ve made it through this article, and you’ve decided you have the need and budget for a sales operations manager and want to hire one. Now what? Now it’s time to start looking! Platforms like the ones we mentioned (Monster, LinkedIn) and many others out there (Glassdoor, Indeed, etc.) have plenty of potential to help you find a sales ops manager.
However, no set of rules will help you hire the right fit. Only you can decide who will be the best in the position based on your needs as a company. That being said, there are a few examples of questions that you can ask to help you make the choice a little easier.
And for those aspiring sales operations managers out there, take note and think about the answers that you would give in an interview.
Q1: Give an example of a time when you faced some resistance when you implemented a sales process. What did you do to solve any issues?
Since sales operations management relies so heavily on change management, this question will give you some insight into how the prospect adapts and overcomes change. Putting into the context of their day-to-day operations, implementing and improving sales processes often comes with challenges. This question will help you determine how they react on a bigger scale.
Q2: How do you identify and mitigate bottlenecks in the sales process?
Sales ops managers are all about improving and optimizing. That being said, if they don’t have a solid process in place for identifying bottlenecks within the sales process, including within the sales team, then it will be impossible for them to do that aspect of the job productivity.
This also gives the employer a good look into how the prospect handles problem-solving within the confines of their job description. While not all problems are the same, the process for finding where the leak is coming from should be.
Q3: If you were tasked with processing and analyzing a large amount of data, how would you go about it?
Sales operations managers are often tasked with handling a large amount of data. If you’re a part of a large enterprise company, the CRM alone could contain a mind-numbing amount of information. Knowing how the prospect handles such data is important and a core responsibility of being a sales ops manager.
Use this question to inquire about their data analysis skills. Ideally, they’ll provide solid examples of times when they needed to process and analyze a large amount of data. You should be looking for concrete actions they took to complete the task.
Q4: What criteria do you look for when implementing a new sales tool?
Again, finding, implementing, and maintaining sales tools is a huge part of being a sales operations manager. However, each team is different and requires a different kind of tool. Even if a certain CRM worked well for the prospect in another job, that doesn’t mean it will work well for your team.
This question can give you a good idea of what kind of tools they find useful, as well as how well their idea of an efficient tool line-up with what your sales team is currently using. You’re not looking for any specific tool, only a solid explanation of how they fit the tool to the sales team, not the sales team to the tool.
Conclusions and takeaway
So what do you think? Are you in need of a sales operations manager? You may not have an answer right now, but in many cases, a sales operations manager is needed for healthy scalability to be achieved.
Likewise, if you’re looking to be hired as a sales operations manager, and based on the descriptions, responsibilities, and requirements for a sales operation manager that we talked about above, do you think you have what it takes to become one?
Think of a sales ops manager as a guide for your sales team. They provide the stepping stones needed to nurture leads from one end of the sales pipeline to the other. These stepping stones exist in the form of tools, processes, and goals. All of these elements are created and managed by a sales ops manager.
So with all that said, make sure you have the budget and foundation needed to support a sales operation manager before you start looking. Just like the sales ops manager needs to fit the team, the team needs to be accepting of the sales ops manager. It is a push-pull relationship that requires full accountability and acceptance on both sides of the coin. If there is any resistance to negligence on either side, you might find yourself in a worse position than you were in before you hired the new manager.
Hiring a sales operations manager is no small task; it could take weeks or months to find the right one. This is a process that you do not want to rush. Taking your time, going through this process with confidence and an open mind, and really making sure that the person you choose fits the role like a glove is vital for the dexterity of your sales operation.