- There’s no exception that sales organizations have their work cut out for themselves
- Factors such as a competitive market and consistent growth agenda can take a heavy toll on the sales force, especially the sales operations team
- As responsibilities grow, so does the possibility of getting it wrong
- The good news is that such pitfalls can also be avoided if proper processes are set in place and the larger team understands the critical role sales ops play in revenue generation
As sales transform in an increasingly dynamic market landscape, the importance of the sales operation discipline has taken off in almost every sector.
Sales and operations planning is expanding rapidly to touch more processes, while shaping new workflows, driving better policies, and delivering holistic insight across the entire sales cycle.
The report titled “The LinkedIn State of Sales Operations Report 2021” highlights the many ways in which the role of sales operations is growing.
According to the report, the role around the world increased by 38% between 2018 and 2020. Additionally, 49% of sales ops professionals feel that they are valued as much as any other sales professional in their respective company.
These numbers are a clear indicator of the discipline’s evolution. Its growth stems from two areas.
First is the vast amount of data readily available coupled with the number of data providers in the space. Second is the acute need of the sales operation team to synthesize this data to enable salespeople.
This also means that the responsibilities of sales operations professionals have increased. From determining which accounts to focus on to building relationships with existing customers and forecasting business performance, sales operations need to be at the forefront.
Regardless of the scope of responsibilities, some common pitfalls can hinder sales effectiveness. Think of your sales ops team as the behind-the-scenes revenue generator.
While value demonstrations, negotiations, and deal closing might lie at the front, it’s the actions taken by your operations and planning department that make it possible.
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Sales Operations
1. Lack of Data Ownership
In all probability, the data exists that will help the sales team with their pitch success.
The problem is that it is not properly managed and processed, putting a question on its accuracy. Data is also the foundation of sales operations which means that data ownership must become a core value across BUs.
Instilling a practice of data ownership in day-to-day activities is a must.
2. Higher Load of Administrative Tasks
While processes, roles, territories, and quotas are all meaningful work that sales operations are tasked with, they eventually get burdened with crediting decisions, exceptions management, comp administrations, and commission complaints to make any bandwidth for the tasks that matter.
If the sales operations and planning team are buried in an avalanche of sales administration tasks, it would be difficult for them to focus on the larger goal: driving greater sales productivity.
3. Absence in Strategy Discussion
Many times, the sales and operations planning team is just not part of key meetings and discussions on growth strategy and sales coverage.
This exclusion often leads to misalignment between the growth objectives of the organization and the focus areas of sales operations.
In the absence of clear definitions of the company’s future outlook, the sales ops team will wrongly prioritize tasks or investments of time and resources.
Sales roles require perfect clarity of the product or service as well as the customers that are being targeted. The same applies to sales operations.
For your sales ops, the customers are internal and products are the internal sales enablers.
4. Lack of Documentation
If you document it, you learn from your mistakes.
It’s essential to capture all the institutional knowledge and assumptions that go into planning. Companies can put a mechanism in place to capture such information from all the participants.
When this gets embedded into the plan, you can understand the context of the decisions and changes, even months later.
5. Addition of Shadow Resources
Helping your sales operations and planning team become the center of excellence for one or more functions requires commitment from the entire organization. When this single team is given this amount of attention, added responsibilities and bandwidth issues can hinder team performance, putting the team’s efficacy in question.
Rather than investing in duplicative shadow resources, business leaders must work actively with the team to understand pain points and bring relevant measures to resolve them.
How Can Sales Operations Be Improved?
A common theme emerges when we look at revamping the sales and operations planning team: to keep on top of things. To transform the team, business leaders should look at the following recommendations.
- A culture of internal audits for continuous improvement can help to eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks. Admin issues should be assigned to the sales department. Field salespeople should have access to regular sales training programs. Tools and software should get regular updates to keep up with the times.
- It is also critical for the sales operation team to have a crystal clear idea of the mission and objectives of the company. The executive team must consistently communicate them so that all oars keep rowing in the same direction.
- Quick fixes will not work for your sales ops team. Sales are meant to be fast. This means that you will have problems faster than the time you have to fix them. Instead of looking at temporary band-aids, try to fix the real problem.
- While there is no shortage of KPIs and metrics, it’s important to choose the one that fits your team. Even when you have the numbers, break them down and examine them carefully. Deep dive into the performance of your sales operations team and identify the areas where they have shined and areas where they may have to improve.
|Related Read: Enabling Your Sales Team During a Pandemic|
Empowering Sales Ops to Go Above and Beyond
89% of sales professionals feel that sales ops are critical to business growth, according to “The State of Sales Report” by Salesforce.
Navigating the landscape of sales operations and planning can be tricky, with the mistakes leading to activities being derailed.
But with proper processes in place, there’s no telling how much your team can accomplish.