How to Spot a Sales Operations Rock Star

Three Sales Operations leaders weigh in on what they look for in new recruits.

John E. Kosar, III

One of the golden questions for anyone who wants to get hired in Sales Operations is: What are employers looking for? What are the intangible characteristics that employers see as success factors?


I recently moderated a panel discussion, in which the audience asked this exact question. Find the full video on Sales Operations Rock Stars.


Ellen Kindley, Sr. Director of Revenue Operations with QA Symphony answered first. QA Symphony develops one of the leading testing tools for Agile teams; they have over 400 customers and 10,000 users.  


She says that Sales Operations requires self-starters, workers who do not wait to be told what to do next but instead jump in and take real responsibility.


She also emphasized the importance of curiosity, and specifically a curiosity about process. Sales Operations lies between strategy and sales execution, where process and technology come together to create a platform for business development. Sales Operations personnel are always thinking about better ways to get things done.


If you take these two things together, you confront a paradox of someone who jumps in but who also thinks about how other people are doing things. This says a lot about what it takes to be in Sales Operations.


New Hires Need Data Analytics

Lindsey Nelson, VP of Sales Productivity with CareerBuilder answered next. She corroborated Ellen’s focus on business process. She also focused on data analytics. It is important to be able to process data, but more importantly, she said, Sales Operations needs to use data to tell stories, to suggest real actions based on interpretation of the data.  


Recruits with Vision and a Winning Attitude

Brett McNay, VP of Sales with SalesFusion, boiled it all down with a litmus test he likes to use. It comes down to a single question, “Do you like to win, or do you hate to lose?”  Phillips says organizations that rely on high-volume sales are a better match for people who “love to win,” while those that rely on strategic deals that require a significant resource investment into the sales process are a better fit for “hate to lose” types.*



The answer says a lot about the motivation behind your actions. And it is a critical one to ask in an industry that cares so much about efficiency. Are you doing your job because you are trying to put out fires and make less mistakes, or are you focused on the prize?


One critical point that all three emphasized was the need to focus on the big picture, or the Epic level, to use an Agile term. Sales Operations needs to keep the future in view and work toward a new vision of communicating the voice of customers.


If you were going into an interview for a Sales Operations role in the 1990s, the answer might well have been very different. But in these modern days of Sales Operations, you need to be motivated by success instead of perfectionism.   


Watch the full panel discussion about how Sales Operations is evolving in our industry.




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