What's in this article?
Running a successful sales operation often becomes overcomplicated. This is especially true on an enterprise level where organizations manage large sales teams that must also align with marketing efforts, product or service updates, and shifts in the market.
With optimized sales and operations planning, much of this complexity is simplified to make a sales team ultra-effective. And it’s only getting better as technology advances to meet the needs of growing sales teams, making strategic decisions easier and faster.
Our guide to optimizing sales operations and technology will help you make sense of building an effective and empowered sales team using the right tools, framework, and our top tips.
What is sales operations?
So what is sales operations? Well, salespeople alone don’t make for successfully closed sales. You need a structure that supports the sales team, otherwise known as sales operations, or sales ops.
Sales operations involves building the team, tools, and resources to support the sales team. This often involves using a combination of technology to generate, score, and disburse leads, as well as training and gathering insights to track and improve performance.
Technology is increasingly important for sales operations. In the future, sales operations will be powered by a robust decision support system fueled by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
How does sales operations differ from sales enablement?
As described above, sales operations is focused on the overall structure and flow that applies to sales. This includes the technology and tools, team structure, and overall processes.
Sales enablement differs in that it’s focused on training salespeople and ensuring they have the resources they need to do their jobs efficiently on a daily basis. It’s an important piece of the overall sales process, and is often considered one part of sales operations.
Sales ops and sales enablement may work side-by-side within an organization, be considered part of the same responsibilities, or be split between separate teams.
Roles and responsibilities of sales operations
Whether sales operations is one person’s responsibility or there is a team to manage it, there are clear roles sales operations plays to enhance overall sales. The focus is on the following four areas.
Sales ops determines the overall path to sales goals that the team needs to reach, as well as how to measure whether the goals are being met.
This often includes forecasting growth, evaluating sales methodologies and best practices, determining logistics such as territory/region assignments and training needs, selecting the best tools and software, and creating opportunities for incentives.
The strategy involves measuring performance and reporting insights to ensure the sales process is being optimized or determine where to make changes if it’s not performing.
Technology is becoming one of sales ops biggest assets.
Tools such as data tracking, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) allow sales teams to analyze more data than we’ve ever had access to before. We can then strategically use those insights to increase performance, and ultimately increase closed sales.
This includes automated decision-making for lead scoring and disbursement using AI and ML when integrated with other essential technology including your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Sales and Operations
Managing the administrative and logistical aspects of the sales process are the most concrete operational pieces of sales operations.
Strategy and technology become useless if the concepts and tools aren’t properly implemented for the entire sales team. Sales and operations involve ensuring everyone has the software they need, they know their sales regions, and have clear and up-to-date contracts and channels of communication.
Sales and operations planning also ensures that the sales team is well-stocked by recruiting new members and providing them with quality training, as well as fair incentives.
Beyond the incremental improvements of offering an incentive program, optimizing sales operations improves overall performance. This often includes streamlining the sales process so that the team can speed up the sales cycle and close more.
To do this, many sales operations teams rely on technology to track performance. They select Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure and analyze to adjust and optimize the sales process framework. KPIs will often look at data such as conversion rates and sales metrics related to time, effort, cost, and outcomes that can evaluate effectiveness and value.
Based on performance insights, sales ops may provide training and other resources to improve performance when measurements show a need for further optimization.
It’s often found that salespeople need specific tools to make the most of the process. This could include things like better customer outreach and engagement using templates, forms, and automation; better contract management; improvements to a CRM system; and visibility into performance insights being tracked.
Sales operations strategy: Process and framework
So how do you manage successful sales operations? Here’s a simple process and framework you can play with to enhance your sales team.
- Make sure data is flowing and trackable. All software needs to be set up and accessible, including CRMs, automation, and any other tools.
- Determine compensation and incentives, then hire, onboard, and assign regions to your sales team.
- Train the sales team on your product, your sales goals, and sales tools so that they are well aware of how they are supported in reaching these goals.
Repeat — Don’t start from scratch every time but cycle through these steps to continue measuring their effectiveness. Analyze the data you’re collecting and see where there may be holes. Is increased training needed? Is one tool not operating how you thought it would? In each of these areas, where can you continue to make improvements to ultimately sell more?
Sales operations best practices and performance
Once your sales operations efforts are in motion, consider these best practices and performance needs to optimize your operation.
Own the technology and data management
Sales ops needs to own the technology the sales agents use and make implementing it effectively a top priority.
Your CRM will be one of your most important tools, and it needs to be integrated with all other tools for all to be effective.
Taking this a step further, these tools track and provide data. That data needs to be managed well so you can report on it, analyze it, use it for process improvement, and use it to make the most of AI/ML tools that analyze data and adjust strategies for you.
Learn more about how technology improves sales. Read our Guide to Lead Management: How to Convert More Leads into Deals.
Select and measure KPIs
Deliberately choose what data you want to measure, based on how you will track reaching your overall objectives. These are your KPIs.
Next, you need to clearly communicate expectations to the sales team so they understand how these metrics will be used to measure success.
In general, you’ll want to watch for both increased sales and an increased ROI. Analyzing metrics using the right KPIs, while considering if they’re on track to reach your goals, will help you strategically shift operations.
Key Performance Indicators might include:
- Lead conversion rates
- Lead generation and sales pipeline metrics
- Monthly sales growth
- Points of contact per sales agent
- Timelines, such as length of time selling or sales cycle length
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Sales staff retention and churn rates
Lead with coaching and mentoring
Sales ops needs to establish a strong leadership role by setting the overall sales strategy and goals, while also directly supporting and working with the sales team through shadowing, mentoring, and training the team.
Sales ops also needs to stay connected to other leaders within the organization, including the Marketing team, as well as the COO, CTO, CIO, and CEO to be in the know of bigger business goals.
Optimization of knowledge base, sales tools, and processes
Your role is not to maintain a system, it is to consistently improve and evolve the sales system so that it is continuously optimized with the goal of selling more.
Tools, staff, products, strategies, markets, etc. are ever-changing. You need to be proactive and evaluate your sales team’s knowledge base, tools, and processes on an ongoing basis, with the goal of making improvements wherever possible.
Grow your company with sales ops
Optimizing sales operations and technology is often a valuable investment for sales ops teams that juggle a large pool of resources while being expected to hit targeted, strategic goals. And all while staying within budget to positively impact ROI.
There are many strategies and tools available to help you optimize sales performance. Connect with ProPair for a tool that may offer the easiest implementation, while consistently providing 10% increases in close rates.
ProPair’s tools allow you to equitably distribute leads from top to bottom performers, maximize your total sales production, and reduce the need and expense of churning your salesforce.
Learn more about what might be right for your sales team. We offer RANK and MATCH or the optimal combination of both with MIX:
- RANK: Know exactly which leads to focus on and when.
- MATCH: Know exactly what sales agents to assign leads to.
- MIX: Optimize your entire sales operation by maximizing the potential of every lead and every sales agent.
Unsure about the ROI?
We’ll analyze your leads and their performance to help you see whether you’re missing opportunities to sell more, and how our AI/ML tools can help.