Many executives look at their salespeople as the sole force driving their sales.
However, behind all successful salespeople, there’s a team of sales operations professionals.
Interestingly, if we look at the data, it looks like more and more executives understand this.
Today, it is estimated that, in the next few years, there’ll be 35,400 new SalesOperations jobs in the US alone. Still, almost 30% of organizations have no dedicated sales operations team (and it’s not even planned).
Of course, simply having sales ops professionals onboard is not enough to succeed. To get the most out of your sales operations team, you need to create the right team structure.
In this article, we’ll look at how you can build said structure and help your sales ops drive even better results. But first, let’s look at the key tasks of every sales operations team.
Key tasks of a sales operations team
The responsibilities of a sales ops team depend on the company, its goals, and its structure. However, all sales ops teams share three key goals.
Task #1: Maximizing sales force potential for generating revenue
The number one goal of every sales ops team is to help the sales team become more efficient.
Sales ops pros do that by planning, coordinating, and helping direct the sales team’s actions. They also use data to measure performance, share insights, and hold them accountable.
The latter is one of the keys to building a successful sales team. Data shows that all high-performing sales organizations’ salespeople are held accountable.
On top of that, they also help the team identify opportunities for improvement. All this leads to a better conversion rate and sales performance.
Task #2: Shortening the sales cycle
Another thing sales ops pros do is streamline sales processes. This serves two goals. First, it makes the sales team more efficient, allowing them to process leads faster. They can also put more effort into building relationships.
They also simplify the process for the customer, making it easier to make a purchase decision. This, in turn, encourages customers to buy a product sooner rather than later.
Task #3: Helping sales reps focus on their key strengths
Understanding one’s strengths and feeling valued are keys to efficient work.
Interestingly, 51% of SalesOps pros feel undervalued — which is not much different for the field sales team. Still, one of the key tasks of a sales ops team is ensuring field salespeople focus on their key strengths.
Usually, they do that by providing them with regular feedback, organizing training, or managing a reward system. All that helps the sales ops team increase the productivity of a sales team by up to 10% each year.
Of course, how sales ops pros achieve those key goals will depend a lot on team structure. Here are key roles present in most sales ops teams.
Key roles in a sales operations team
No two companies will have two exact sales operations teams. The structure will differ, and so will the roles, position names, or scope of work. However, most of them will fall close to the following example.
Sales operations leader
The #1 person in your sales ops team. The success of both sales operations and sales teams often depends on the sales ops leader. Why?
It’s simple – they’re the ones responsible for planning the strategy. They set goals and guide the entire team towards success. As a result, a good sales ops leader greatly impacts field salespeople.
What are the necessary skills of a sales operations leader?
When looking to hire a sales ops leader, you want someone with a proven track record. Often, sales ops leaders are previous field salespeople or sales operations professionals. However, they may also come from finance, marketing, or consulting positions.
Ideally, you want someone experienced in sales operations systems and processes. However, experience alone is not enough. You want them to be able to both come up with and implement new ways of doing things.
It’s no surprise the position requires the candidate to be able to think strategically. You want them to create strategies, set long-term goals, and develop solutions to sales challenges.
On top of that, you want the person to be very data-driven in their decision-making. They need to live and breathe analytics, understand sales data, and be able to draw actionable insights.
Sales operations managers
In small companies, a sales operations manager is usually the team leader. But, as the team grows, managers become responsible for different areas of team operations.
Usually, their main goal is to ensure specialists and analysts can operate effectively. They oversee the implementation of internal team policies and help optimize team processes.
They also work closely with RevOps or the sales teams on aligning mutual goals. Sometimes, they even work with product teams participating in developing go-to-market strategies.
Lastly, they’re usually responsible for tracking the performance metrics of their team. They then use that data to share the feedback with other sales ops specialists.
What are the necessary skills of a sales operations manager?
A big chunk of sales ops manager’s work requires them to communicate with other team members or teams. They share feedback, motivate, and help their team members become more efficient. They also have to negotiate with other teams and be able to push forward their ideas and strategies. That’s why every successful manager needs excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
On top of that, they need to be solid strategic thinkers and be able to analyze data provided to them by team specialists.
Sales operations analyst
Analysts are responsible for analyzing and improving the efficiency of sales processes. They use data to identify trends, remove bottlenecks, and draw insights. They then use those insights to understand sales team capabilities and share them with other teams.
Often, they’re the ones sharing feedback with the sales team. They help salespeople become more productive and identify areas for improvement. They also work closely with managers, helping develop sales ops strategies and processes.
Lastly, they deal with some of the technical stuff related to analytics. These tasks include creating and maintaining data reports and dashboards. They also need to create data visualizations and present them to other stakeholders.
What are the necessary skills of a sales operations analyst?
The role of an analyst merges two very different worlds. The world of analyzing data and the world of communicating the findings. That’s why a successful sales operations analyst needs more than just strong analytical skills. They also need to be able to solve problems and communicate their ideas with others.
Moreover, their role requires them to support other team members with their data. That’s why they need to be highly organized and work well under pressure.
Often, analysts with strong interpersonal skills are strong candidates for managerial positions.
Sales planning specialist
Sales planning specialists are responsible for creating sales plans for the sales team. To do that, they often work closely with both the sales and RevOps teams.
This also enables them to understand the company’s strategy. They then use that strategy and strive to align the company’s sales goals.
Of course, they don’t just come up with sales numbers. Additionally, they participate in developing strategies and tactics to reach them.
What are the necessary skills of a sales planning specialist?
A successful sales ops planning specialist collaborates a lot with different stakeholders. Like most sales ops professionals, every sales planning specialist needs strong interpersonal skills.
They also need to be highly organized and flexible. After all, they’re responsible for managing one of the key company metrics. All this, together with strong problem-solving skills, allows them to adjust the sales plan to market changes.
Sales operations technology specialist
Technology, especially SaaS tools, keep proving useful in sales. They’re especially effective at helping sales teams manage leads or work more efficiently.
Still, only 25.9% of sales organizations have the tools to support the sales team.
Sales operations technology specialists help companies pick the right tools. Often, they’re responsible for introducing, maintaining, and updating any sales SaaS software.
Often, they work closely with other sales ops team members and sales leaders. They gather their feedback and insights and use them to identify the best solutions. That way, they can find tools that have the biggest impact on the sales team’s efficiency.
What are the necessary skills of a sales operations technology specialist?
Every sales operations technology specialist needs to be very well versed in the latest technology trends in the sales world. They need to know the different software and understand how it can help the company.
Additionally, they need to be able to maintain the tools (or understand who to delegate the work). Lastly, they need to be good teachers and coaches. Often, they’re responsible for training sales teams in using said software.
Sales operations specialist
The role of a sales operations specialist is the broadest one of all. Depending on the team structure, a specialist may share responsibilities with any role. They can be an analyst, or a planning or technology specialist. In some teams, they may be the only (next to managers) members of a sales operations team.
Most of the time, this role focuses on general sales ops responsibilities. The main one? The use of data to help salespeople. Sales ops specialists collect and analyze data, create sales forecasts, and find room for improvement.
Other key tasks may include budgeting or the cleanup of a CRM database. Sometimes, they’re also responsible for monitoring key sales metrics.
What are the necessary skills of a sales operations specialist?
The role is a mix of all the different sales operations roles, so it requires a variety of different skills. Usually, sales ops specialists need both strong analytical skills and interpersonal skills. The expected skill set will depend significantly on the individual sales ops team structure.
Interestingly, some companies may not even have the role of a sales ops specialist. In this case, they focus exclusively on highly-specialized sales operations roles. Other companies may prefer to have a team made up of managers and sales ops specialists.
One of the things that structure will depend on is the size of the company.
Sales ops team structure – different leadership models
Despite strong similarities, sales ops team structures differ between organizations.
In some businesses, the structure may be very highly individualized. This is where different people are in charge of their respective tasks. A big advantage of this structure is a high level of specialization. However, the biggest problem with this approach is that it won’t work in small teams.
Additionally, having too-specialized positions requires you to have a skilled manager — someone who can “connect” all the different roles together.
Usually, the bigger the company, the more managers and micro-teams. In this case, the members of each sub-team report to their individual managers. But, if the teams are too small (and too many), there’s a huge risk of overlapping responsibilities.
That’s when managers may need to reorganize the team. Often, they’ll do that by letting each of the small teams focus on a separate step in the customer journey.
Creating a sales operations team structure: there’s no secret sauce
A successful sales ops team is the backbone of any well-functioning sales team. And the right structure is vital to reaching one’s revenue goals.
The problem is that no one-size-fits-all solution would work for any company. The structure will depend on the company’s size, goals, structure, and strategies. However, as the landscape keeps changing, different roles will grow in importance. A great example of such a role is that of a technology specialist.
One of the reasons for that is the ever-increasing number of tools that sales ops teams can add to their arsenal. One of such tools is sales and marketing automation software, such as Encharge. Book a free demo call if you’d like to see how Encharge can help you grow your business. Let’s discuss your business and determine if we’re the right fit for your sales operations team.