Working Toward a New Definition of Sales Operations

An Op Ed from Managing Partner Steven Jameson

Steven Jameson

Every business has a unique definition of Sales Operations. What is its relation to Sales Enablement? Is it a sales function? Marketing function? Forecasting? Training? Does the size of the company or line-of-business matter? Should it differ by division, or should there only be one Sales Operations for each company?

These might sound like academic questions, but the solution has a massive impact on a company’s annual gains in profitability and revenues. The wrong answer can lead to significant inefficiencies and lost business.

And the fact is, many companies are not answering this question as well as they could. Here’s why.

Defining Sales Operations in the Cloud Era

Until fairly recently, Sales Operations was found primarily in companies with revenues over $1 billion. In these companies, the function primarily supported large IT systems that required sales input.

Small and medium sized businesses (SMB) defined Sales Operations as little more than the administrative assistant of the VP / Director / Manager of the sales groups. The assistant had numerous responsibilities (e.g., making hotel and airline reservations) in addition to collecting trip and call reports, forecasts, PO’s, etc.

But this arrangement has changed with increasing rapidity in the last 20 years, due to the proliferation of sales technology applications.

Now, there is an app for every function an assistant would do manually, and many functions an admin would not have had the time or capacity to do.

  • Sales dialers
  • Email and social media engagement
  • Productivity software like Customer Relationship Management (CR), Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) and Contract Management (CM)
  • Sales intelligence
  • Buyer insights
  • Analytics software like forecasting and performance management and predictive analytics
  • Onboarding and training software
  • Sales coaching
  • Territory and quota management

All these programs have created incredible opportunities for the role of Sales Operations to deliver more productivity, with more focus and more actionable information about customers.

A Vision for Modern Sales Ops

Capitalizing these opportunities, however, requires discipline to keep the pace. New skills including proficiency with technology, such as CRM administration, tech stack management, and executive influence, are required in order to integrate these new tools with company activities.

So, what is Sales Operations? All of us here at ALTAVI believe in the value of this question. We think it should be asked, and answered, constantly, iteratively. That is, in large part, what our Editorial Calendar will focus on over the next few months.

We’ll start with an academic review. We’ll create a framework of Sales Operations by size and market. We also look forward to testing this “hypothesis,” and this is where you come in. 

Your input will be solicited to validate the framework; we’ll ask you to tell us about how your companies work, and how they are reaching goals, or where they are falling short. Your contributions will be pooled together in a series of blogs and podcasts that will analyze the data points to create:

  • Sales Operations structure
  • Roles and titles
  • In-demand skills
  • Transitioning from traditional to modern Sales Ops

Please let us know if you are willing to be a resource by sending an email to We promise that you won’t be added to the ALTAVI mailing list, unless you request. Our goal is to identify Sales Operations thought leaders that want to help shape Sales Operations.

Alone We Are Smart; Together We Are Brilliant

Whether you are looking for CPQ, CLM, or CRM, let us help you decide if a Quick-Start, Deep Dive, or Turnaround would be best for your organization.
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