What is sales operations?
As sales organizations become increasingly connected and data-driven, Sales Operations has risen in prominence at high-performing, customer-centric companies. Most of us understand Sales Operations in layman terms as “a set of activities done at the back end to improve sales efficiency and attain sales objectives.”
But, as machine learning and process optimization accelerates, “support” capabilities are driving increasingly important decisions, even within the C-Suite. Is this the same Sales Operations from the 1970’s? Even though the responsibilities are largely the same, the discipline’s de facto activities have changed so dramatically in the last five years, it is important to revisit the question now: In 2018, what is Sales Operations?
Sales Operations Functions
The primary responsibility of Sales Operations is to build the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales organization as it executes the corporate strategy. This was the case back in the 70’s, as well, but if we look closer, we see a few additions thanks to technology.
- Compensation Structure — a) Salary, Benefits and Options; b) Commission, Stipend and Bonuses
- Sales Targets — a) Sales Quotas; b) Territory Alignment; c) Lead allocation management
- Hiring — a) Recruiting; b) Interviewing; c) On-boarding
- Training — a) Product and Service Training; b) Sales Training; c) Mentorship and Coaching; d) Marketing Intelligence Training
- Sales Methods — a) Guided Selling; b) Sales Methodology; c) Sales Playbook
- Sales Enablement — a) Sales Automation; b) Sales Systems, such as CRM, CPQ, CLM; c) Sales Support and Account Processing
- Forecasting, Data Analytics and Planning
- Sales Metrics and Gap Analysis
- Communications — a) Internal; b) Outbound
Many of the bottom-most functions are the cause of the changes, and challenges, in defining Sales Operations today. Sales Enablement systems, data analytics, and an exploding number of applications are crossing traditional boundaries – not only between silos but between Operations, Accounting, Marketing, and other disciplines.
Digitized Sales Operations is effective when it supports multiple disciplines, not just Sales. Businesses that are achieving operational excellence are able to isolate and support cross-functional processes including configuration and quoting, budget forecasting, Marketing and Sales Automation, while analyzing customer data and delivering critical information to the C-suite. The Sales-side of these applications still generates efficiency and effectiveness, even improving morale and attrition, as always, but with a much longer reach.
In our next blog series we will explore the Evolution of Sales Operations then we will break down each of these Sales Operations functions to help you gain a competitive advantage and gain market share over your competition.