7 Key Steps to Build A Solid Sales Operations Structure
- Sales operations are a critical component of any top-performing sales organization, helping the business reach its revenue target
- A sales ops team is well-poised to help sales teams close more deals while alleviating salespeople of non-selling sales activities
- Despite its increasingly critical role, many sales leaders struggle with building a sales ops team
- Certain practices can make the process easier and help organizations bring transparency and clarity to their processes
Similar to most sectors and departments across industries, sales operations were also disrupted and reshaped by the pandemic.
Digital solutions are offering new paths to sales operation strategy where the key is building better connections, both with customers and the workforce.
The increasing importance of utilizing data to drive decision-making has made sales ops more important than ever.
According to the Trends in Sales Ops Report, 75% of the sales ops professionals now have new responsibilities with 64% expecting their role to change.
Despite its increasing scope, sales operations is also an area that many sales leaders struggle with. But done right, sales ops can help companies improve their sales performance and boost revenue growth.
This article attempts to answer this. Deep dive into why sales ops is such a critical piece of your sales puzzle and how to build a stellar sales ops team for success.
Let’s get started.
Why is Sales Ops So Important?
According to a survey, sales ops teams drive up to a 10% increase in sales productivity each year.
Simply put, your sales operations team is responsible for helping sales professionals sell better, hit goals faster, and lead smoother sales processes.
Senior leaders of organizations can leverage their sales operations department to synthesize data about the sales experience to make it more effective.
Here are four more ways how sales ops help organizations boost their performance.
- Sales operations free up time and energy for organizations as they analyze and streamline internal processes so sales teams are not as distracted or bogged down. If any given task takes more time as it’s being done manually, the sales ops team will research ways to automate that task. The result is that your sales team is better poised to serve customers.
- There’s a clear gap between companies that scale and those that don’t. The answer is the absence of a clear and effective sales operations strategy which could have helped build a repeatable sales process that is codified across the sales team. Smart sales ops leaders help their companies to establish best practices across teams, making results predictable.
- The sales operations team demystifies the sales process for other departments so data-driven decisions can be made which helps achieve revenue targets. Sales ops professionals make use of CRM data to paint a holistic picture of the customer journey which can help leaders gauge if the pipeline is healthy or not.
- Your sales operations department will be in a better position to notice risks that heads of sales may miss as they are more focused on closing the deal. With the sales team busy executing the plan, sales ops leaders will dig into data and use those insights to design incentives and create a killer sales ops strategy.
How Do You Structure Sales Operations for Success?
While sales operations continue to grow as a strategic imperative in a dynamic marketplace, the current structure and roles are not without limitations.
The State of Sales Operations Report by LinkedIn highlights that 36% of sales ops professionals struggle with balancing strategic and operational responsibilities.
The answer lies in having a well-planned sales operations structure in place.
Once established, you have more consistency and control over your sales process while your tasks managers and sales reps have better clarity to complete goals.
Here’s how you can structure your sales operations team.
1. Determine Operational Scope
Your operational scope for sales ops corresponds to your plan for sales and strategy.
For instance, if online advertising and content marketing are part of your sales plan to generate leads, your sales ops structure will be different.
This is your operational scope. It defines your sales process, core metrics, supportive tasks, and roles.
It’s essentially a top-down approach where you start with a strategy, set up a sales ops structure that incorporates the strategy, and then, implement resources and practices to optimize the system.
2. Define KPIs for Sales Operations
Since sales ops encompasses both strategy and execution, it is important to evaluate how the team is performing relative to its goals. KPIs will help you with that.
- Average Win Rate: Your sales ops team is working hard to ensure that your sales department closes more deals. You can measure the efficiency of your team by monitoring the average win rate.
- Average deal size: This is the average dollar amount for every closed deal or contract. It’s an important metric to understand the financial health of the organization and its pipeline.
- Average Sales Cycle Length: Your sales ops team is hard at work to slash the time it takes a prospect to close after entering your sales pipeline. Monitoring this cycle can make your team more efficient.
- Lead Response Time: Also known as speed to lead, this measures the amount of time it takes for you to follow up on clients after their first contact with your business.
3. Establish a Sales Process
A sales process will include repeatable steps to get prospects from the awareness stage to the purchase stage. These include various activities such as cold calling, lead qualifications, and hosting a client meeting to present a pitch.
Both sales funnel and sales pipeline can help strengthen this process.
Your funnel represents the lead’s buying journey with your business. The pipeline involves all internal activities you can take up to move the lead through the funnel.
4. Establish a Strong Leadership
Your sales operation structure should have a direct line to the executives.
Make sure that your team is led by a vice president, director, or senior manager. These leaders should report to the president or a high-level sales leader.
While sales ops and marketing work closely together, your sales team is the one that understands the overall sales strategy. This team should be part of sales rather than marketing.
5. Get More Team Members for Supportive Sales Tasks
According to the State of Sales Report by Salesforce, 75% of sales reps have taken on new responsibilities at work. Supportive tasks should not throw your sales ops team members off their track. These are the administrative tasks that ensure sales process optimization.
For instance, recruitment, training, and onboarding of new members are all supportive tasks in sales as they don’t directly impact the sales process.
Similarly, invoicing and billing a customer to collect revenue, tracking sales commissions for the payroll team, and creating sales forecasts and sales contests are all supportive tasks for your sales operations team.
A proper pipeline on how these tasks are completed can help to strengthen your sales ops structure.
6. Make Use of Technology
78% of customers expect a consistent customer experience at every touchpoint and digital channel.
It’s essential that your team is not burdened with manual tasks that take their time and energy from critical activities. Use technology as much as possible to automate tasks.
CRM software, email automation software, lead prioritization engines, and sales software are just a few of the tools that you can make use of.
However, it will also be counter-productive if your sales ops team is toggling between 10+ tools. Figure out the role a new software will play in your sales process and only then implement it.
7. Who to Hire
According to one report, 36% of sales ops professionals agree that it’s hard to recruit and retain good hires in sales ops.
Putting together any new team can be challenging, but more so in the case of your sales operations team because of the central role they play in your revenue growth.
Keeping in mind certain qualities can help you make the right choice. This includes the ability to analyze data. They should have excellent communication skills so they can help the larger team understand the significance of the data.
As the sales ops team is linked to almost all parts of the organization, they need to be able to build relationships.
Succeed with an Effective Sales Ops Team
Building a sales operations team is one of the most critical steps of your enterprise sales cycle. Done well, it can improve productivity and deliver a stellar customer experience.
More than anything else, sales operations will help you create a robust system of selling where data, insights, and technology play an important role in driving performance and sustainable growth.