“The unspoken, but overall goal [of Sales Operations], is to reduce or eliminate selling thieves. Any process that takes the salesperson out of the field, or off the phone, or away from selling, is a sales thief” – As Jeffrey J. Fox, Founder of management consulting firm Fox and Company

Note: Using Sales Operations (Sales Ops) and Revenu  Operations (Revenue Ops) as synonyms

What may have begun was activities to eliminate sales thief has over a period of time developed into a critical function in sales

Sales Ops is 

  1. Strategic
  2. Structure
  3. Policy
  4. Process
  5. Technology
  6. Number things
  7. Other Things

 

Strategic

As technology and tools improved, the one or two-person team that was meant to prepare reports for the managers evolved into a team that could provide data analysis of the business. The availability of more business information also allowed to provide better insights and forecasts. Business leaders recognized the value of this information, as a result, in many organization sales operations is strategic in nature

Strategic could include

  1. Analysis – True assessment of the past (Number crunching)
  2. Forecasting – Analysis with scenarios for the future
  3. Sales metrics – Defines the key to adopt (change orientation from top line to bottom line)
  4. Assessment and Adoption of Sales Methodologies

 

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Structure

Geographical structure:  Typically sales teams and effort is divided into geography. The availability and deployment of resources – lead generation, partnerships,..etc could have a significant impact on the overall performance of the organization

Organizational structure:  Organizations (especially revenue teams) that may have more matrix structure (than a traditional hierarchy structure) especially services organization may need more monitoring to ensure resources are deployed optimally based on revenue efficiency and customer effectiveness.  Sales Ops are well placed to play that role

Policy

Compensation structure (Incentives):  One of the most internal conflicts of revenue teams is the calculation and disbursement of incentives. But the key to resolving this conflict is a clear and transparent incentive policy that is easy to communicate and understand

Promotion: Promotions for revenue reps can be role-based or financial or both.
On the face of it this may appear to be a HR issue, but the team best placed to establish (along with organization leaders) a policy for promotion, is sales operations. This is because they are involved in the entire cycle of establishing metrics (KRA), measuring them and data to back it up

Accounts  (creation and management):  As the organization grows and sales teams expand from single-person-army to more refined activities like hunters, farmers, account managers,..etc. The creation ABS (Account Based Sales) or account management grow to become a significant revenue stream. A transparent policy (based on data) to carve out accounts, and manage account is critical to avoid conflicts and increase better customer experience

Process

Sales process: With strategic access to leadership, insight with data analytics and view of the big picture, the Revenue Ops team is best placed to establish (along with sales leaders) and monitor the sales process

Workflow: Establishing the sales process also inherently results in establishing a document & information workflow. Creating forms and templates are a subset of the workflow. Revenue Ops plan, creates, manages and  own the workflow

Technology

The Sales Ops team establishes the broad information requirements and parameters from tools. Though the IT team may have a final say in the technology that will be adopted in line with the established tech stack,  the final accpetace depend on the user team, namely sales operations

Tools could include

  1. CRM
  2. Data Analytics
  3. Business Intelligence
  4. Performance management tools
  5. Communication tools – Email, conference,
  6. Integration – multiple solutions across sales, marketing, finance

 

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Number things

J. Patrick Kelly described their duties [Sales Ops] as “all the nasty number things that you don’t want to do but need to do to make a great sales force” Neil Rackham

The original agenda and the genesis of most sales operations teams

  1. Normalizing data between multiple systems
  2. Reports – daily, quarterly, annually, individual, group, incetives
  3. metrics – measuring efficiency and effectiveness
  4. Analyze metrics – definitions
  5. Market intelligence

 

Other Things

As Sales Ops teams grow, they tend to take on more roles that could include

  1. Onboarding – sales persons and some time channels
  2. Training (product, sales, and process)
  3. Roll out of Sales Frameworks, and Methodologies
  4. Compliance – sales and marketing
  5. Communication (internal and some time external – channels)
  6. Co-ordination with marketing
  7. Content and knowledge base management

Over the years the sales operation may have evolved from a simple data team to a strategic role, but the objective still remains the same – assist business to improve revenues

 

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