Understanding Sales Operations

Ever since Xerox first pioneered the concept in the 1970s, sales operations (or sales ops for short) has been an integral part of most organizations’ overall sales strategy. However, the concept is somewhat broad, and the term sales operations can mean different things in different contexts. In short, the overriding goal of sales ops is to reduce the friction inherent in the selling process and enable a company’s sales representatives to be as efficient as possible.

Sales operations is often associated with the maintenance of a company’s CRM (customer relationship management) platform, such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics, which serves as a central hub for salespeople. Good data hygiene is critical to a strong sales analytics program and accurate sales forecasting. The conclusions you draw as to what sales activities move the revenue needle in the right direction are going to depend on the data you have. Messy or incomplete data is going to hinder your ability to draw good conclusions and improve your sales playbook going forward. Sales operations help keep your team on track.

The Role of the Sales Operations Manager

None of this is to suggest that the role of a sales operations manager is purely tactical. A good sales operations manager will have a strong influence on their organization’s overall sales strategy. For example, they can make recommendations as to how data should be recorded in the company’s CRM and, with the help of sales management platforms like People.ai, deliver insights as to which sales metrics really matter. As a result of their visibility into sales activities, and high-level view of what works and what doesn’t, sales operations managers can help other sales managers with the reporting and tools to become better, data-driven, coaches

However, the most important goal for a sales operations manager is to deliver accurate, timely, revenue forecasts. Sales teams live and die by their forecasts. The highest levels of any company keep a close eye on their forecasts for sales revenue so that they can create proper budgets and develop the right expectations with investors. Inaccurate forecasts deny companies the chance to “course correct” in the unhappy event that revenues are lower than they need to be, and can lead to insolvency if companies spend more money than they can afford.

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How Sales Operations Helps Sales Teams

An investment in sales operations helps to ease the pain points of selling and helps sales teams stay focused on what matters most. Good sales ops speeds up the process by which sales reps get onboarded and ramped up to full productivity and lets them focus on what they should: delivering value to potential customers and winning deals.

Sales operations can even help resolve conflicts and reduce tensions within a company. For example, marketing teams often complain that their counterparts in sales don’t work the leads sourced by marketing efforts. Sales teams frequently counter that the leads marketing delivers are weak – they lack the budget or use case for the product. Sales operations can review in an unbiased, data-driven way what kinds of leads marketing teams are sourcing and exactly how hard sales teams are working them.

Understand how People.ai can help you maintain perfect data hygiene and focus on the right metrics to win more deals. Get a demo today!

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