There is a lot of content defining Sales Operations and how best to utilize the role. However, it is difficult to find one source that breaks down all of the functions and capabilities of the position.
The most common questions I see on the topic of Sales Ops revolve around when to hire for sales operations, what to look for in candidates, and what you can expect from your first sales ops hire.
The “when” can be tough to pinpoint. I have found that implementing sales operations is the most critical when a business is looking to scale it’s sales efforts significantly, or if they have achieved $10M in revenue.
When it comes to finding the right person for the job, you should think of your first Sales Ops hire as the right-hand to your VP of Sales. This person must be capable of wearing many hats – executing and owning a broader range of functions than the traditional analytics focused sales ops.
The role of a business’ first Sales Ops hire can be broken down into a four-dimensions to help you approach the hiring process, and determine your teams biggest areas of focus.
- Sales Process
- Sales Enablement,
- Sales Reporting & Analytics
- Sales Administration
When it comes to Sales Process, it is easy to be seduced by the lure of technology (I mean there’s an app/platform for everything!). But at its core, it is the responsibility of the sales operations function to determine the level of technology required for building the sales process at their company. They need to own the design and maintenance of the process from ideation to implementation and from driving adoption to compliance.
A common misconception is that Sales Operations primarily drives the execution. In an ideal world, the involvement of Sales ops begins with the more strategic component- compiling a set of repeatable steps that define your sales process to align with the type of product/service being sold- and continues through to the tactical component of scaling and rolling out the strategies to your CRM and other systems.
Furthermore, your Sales Operations should revolve around Process Optimization – a continued series of small improvements that can be fueled by the addition of new product lines, analysis of your existing process, or enhancements to your to help you scale better.
Sales Enablement is a frequent topic of discussion as many people find that Sales Ops should not be responsible for enablement but rather that it should be a function of its own. My thought is that Sales Enablement is seldom going to be a separate function so, you should aim to have your first sales ops hire own this piece too.
There are a number of external sales coaches who do a phenomenal job equipping your team with the necessary skills to sell, but enablement doesn’t end there. Similar to the sales process, it is a series of ongoing product and skills improvements throughout the lifespan of the team. It could be as simple as building curriculum and coordinating with vendors, and external resources to set up training, and build a repository of marketing materials to support the team.
Sales Ops is also expected to serve as a central product, process and skills knowledge hub. The individual or team should collaborate directly with sales to work through objections and challenges on an ongoing basis.
Sales Reporting & Analytics
Sales Reporting & Analytics sit at the center of the Sales Ops role by supporting data-driven decision making. This begins with territory design, determining quotas, and moves on to establishing sales KPIs and reporting against them on a regular cadence.
A vital component of the reporting & analytics function is having a well established and repeatable forecasting process. Ensuring forecast accuracy is one of the most significant challenges. While you can run multiple models, it’s the role of sales ops to find the right template for your business and avoid analysis-paralysis.
Last but definitely not the least is Sales Administration. This serves as the miscellaneous bucket for everything from managing and evaluating vendors, to helping move deals across the finish line, and owning the order administration process.
The important thing to keep in mind is that as a business scales, the Sales Ops function will scale and evolve with it. Though the role and core responsibilities remain the same, it may be distributed between a team with each member specializing in one of the four key areas. In some cases, the function may even expand beyond supporting the sales team and encompass sales, success, marketing, and finance under the emerging umbrella of revenue operations.
Guest blog by Kumail Mukadam.
Kumail is the Sales Operations Manager at G100 Network, a peer-to-peer learning, and development company. Before joining G100 he played a key role in developing the marketing and sales function at L2 Inc. TwentyPine has worked with Kumail a lot throughout the past year and we are excited to have him as a guest blogger and subject matter expert for Sales Operations.