Sales operations refers to any tool, plan, or training your company uses to enable its sales staff to deliver their best work. It may seem like a vague term, but having a clear sales operations plan can greatly increase the success of your sales team. Below, we’ll explore the details of sales operations and how this flexible methodology can deliver some serious benefits to your company.
Sales operations: What are sales ops' key functions and strategies?
Sales ops provides a systemic approach to sales. While many companies already use a variety of tools to run their sales process, not every company creates an overarching sales and operations plan to manage the efficiency and productivity of those tools. A successful sales ops team can drive revenue by analyzing the effects of existing software integration (including contact management software), department communication, and long-term employment of company best practices. Sales ops also works with the sales department to smoothly introduce any news sales technology or practices, such as a sales app, which could impact the sales pipeline.
What is the purpose of sales operations?
Sales operations’ primary goal is to smooth out the cracks in the sales process so that sales team members can do their jobs without worrying about other behind-the-scenes tasks. There are three areas that sales ops must navigate: systemic planning, technological tools, and company training.
The main purpose of a sales operations team is S&OP—sales and operations planning. Such a plan, if executed well, ensures that all the moving parts of a business are working together. This means collaborating across departments and updating sales and budget forecasts in order to balance the company’s ever-changing supply and demand.
S&OP provides a practical way of mapping out a company’s future in the near term. Rather than setting extreme goals for 10 years down the line, most sales and operations plans look no more than a year forward into the company’s projections.
Despite years of progress, technology integration remains a significant hurdle for sales departments. A good salesperson is first and foremost an expert in people, not software (with the exception of Saas sales). As a result, sales teams using a large number of technologies can find their sales staff overwhelmed and their expensive software underused.
Sales ops steps in by managing the software each team uses and taking care of data analysis. Sales operations frequently manages the following technology platforms:
- CRM software (such as Zendesk Sell)
- BI services
- Communication and conferencing tools
- Content management software
- Email automation
- Performance management software
- Data analytics software
During onboarding, most new salespeople are trained on the company’s sales process and the products they will be selling. But they’re not always trained on big-picture items or the company’s overall sales strategy. Sales operations, as the company planner, can ensure new hires are fully versed in product training, sales methodology, and marketing. Cross-departmental training from the start gives new salespeople a more complete view of how everyone’s work contributes to their own targets, making it easier for them to understand how and with whom to communicate down the line.
Sales operations key functions
While sales ops angles and departmental organization may vary, most sales ops teams have three key focuses: strategy, administration, and optimization and efficiency. Let’s dive deeper into those functions and their potential sales outcomes.
When sales ops first emerged, it mostly focused on pure data analysis. Over time, this key function has evolved, and sales ops now tends to use data to create improved business strategies.
Sales ops teams can contribute strategic thinking company-wide: from the creation of incentive programming to new software selection. The important thing is that these data-driven strategies are coming from a department whose focus isn’t only on one section of the business, but on the entire picture.
Sales managers are so often overworked that it can be easy for things to slip through the cracks. But sales operations frequently works as administrative support for:
- Recruitment and training
- Implementation and management of compensation
- Allocation of sales districts and groupings
- Communication and collaboration supervision
This extra support helps sales managers keep better track of their team’s progress and step in wherever help is needed most.
Optimization and efficiency
The sales operations department has the biggest impact in streamlining the marketing and sales cycle. Sales ops members boost sales by choosing key metrics, narrowing down tech assets, implementing sales frameworks, and altering lead generation. By simplifying the sales process, sales ops enables salespeople to gain more promising leads and follow through without getting stuck in a technological backlog.
Why utilize sales and operations planning (S&OP)?
Creating and maintaining a sales operations team is a serious business expense. New staff, new software, and additional time and attention to detail can make S&OP a big investment. Research, however, says that the return on investment is well worth it.
Collaboration shows measurable benefits
The average worker spends 25 percent of their workday on email-related tasks, yet only 38 percent of those emails are revenue-generating. By not collaborating effectively, cross-departmental emailing leads to lost information and lower engagement, which ultimately add up to lost revenue. Sales operations creates systems in which all parties have access to the information they need. This eliminates misplaced information and crossed wires while increasing engagement with relevant content.
S&OP creates a clear outline of how different departments can work together
Collaboration and communication don't just magically happen. Your teams need a clear outline of what their individual tasks are, as well as a framework for how and when to reach out to other departments. Sales and operations planning gives you a blueprint for managing those cross-departmental tasks, so you can be sure that each team knows exactly what their responsibilities are. This lets you easily track everyone's KPIs while also eliminating opportunities for confusion or miscommunication.
Greater organization leads to clarity
Companies that use sales operations see 28 percent higher revenue growth than companies that don’t. This isn’t a coincidence. Without a set plan for the entirety of a business, revenue growth halts anytime communication or data analysis. Having a sales ops plan doesn't guarantee a perfect fiscal year. But it does provide you with a full portrait of all the steps your team has taken up to any given point. This allows you to look back and reconfigure your strategy if your final numbers aren't what you wanted them to be. In a way, sales ops is like a map that shows you every step you've taken on your journey, letting you pinpoint exactly where you started veering off-course and away from your desired endpoint.
How Zendesk can reform your sales operations process
By now, we’ve determined that streamlined software and organization are key to a successful sales operation process. As one of the leading providers of sales software, Zendesk is the best tool to set your team up for success.
With a variety of customizable products from Zendesk Sell to Zendesk Sunshine, we provide scalable options for new businesses and enterprise-level organizations alike. Our user-friendly CRM software promotes productivity, process, and pipeline visibility for all teams. Zendesk is also easily integratable with a wide range of popular sales tools such as Mailchimp and JIRA.
With Zendesk, you can give your sales operations team a leading start to superior sales and operations planning.
Get started today by requesting a demo.