If you were to ask many sales operations leaders to describe their team’s activities, you will undoubtedly hear about efforts spanning:
- Sales technology
- Analytics and reporting
- Field support
- Sales compensation
- Project and change management
Certainly, this is not an exhaustive list. And, across organizations, sales operations have different spans of control. However, there are common bonds that all sales operations professionals understand. The role that sales operations play goes beyond sales disciplines or subfunctions.
Over the years, I’ve heard sales operations leaders describe the value they bring and the activities they do in some creative ways. Here is a list of some less traditional ways that I’ve heard sales operations describe themselves:
Certainly, data and analytics are fundamental to modern-day sales execution. Whether it be to derive competitive intelligence or optimize sales force deployment, data serves as a key input. Unfortunately, many legacy systems were built more around processing than reporting. While this is changing, sales operations must still invest in scrubbing data to improve accuracy and usability.
Now that the “cleaning crew” has helped to make the sales data usable, Go-To-Market stakeholders – i.e. Sales, Marketing, Product, Finance, etc. – will certainly want to know how sellers are doing. These scoreboards of descriptive metrics feed into business reviews, sales intelligence, compensation, etc.
When sales performance declines, questions of “why” begin to surface. Sales operations can shift to a more diagnostic approach to investigate where and why sellers may be struggling. Certainly, CSOs will reach out to local sales managers but sales operations have a more expansive view and can uncover broader challenges and root causes.
Sellers need an ecosystem to execute. Sales operations build that platform to allow frictionless execution and transparency. Plus, while organizations embrace digital transformations and technology accelerates interconnectivity, the sales platform is becoming a key part of the enterprise ecosystem – it’s no longer just for sales.
Building on the concept of a sales ecosystem, sales operations must continually engineer – or re-engineer – lean processes to reduce the potential drag on seller effectiveness and capacity. Sellers, who are overburdened with administration, cannot invest as much time into their customers and buyers. Sales operations can boost seller productivity by reducing the manual steps that many sellers must take.
Commonly, CSOs look to their sales operations leader to serve as a chief of staff and trusted advisor. Many CSOs endure significant travel and have a front-office bias where spending time with their customers, buyers and sellers is a top priority. Fortunately, CSOs have sales operations to manage the back-office and ensure that the sales priorities influence organizational decisions and actions.
In American football, offensive lineman move obstacles (i.e. the defense) so someone on their team can score a touchdown. Similarly, sales operations help to move stubborn obstacles so sellers can perform. Selling is a team sport and while sellers are often recognized first, CSOs understand that sales operations are also key contributors to sustainable success.
Sales operations can be a competitive advantage to a sales organization by doing some pretty traditional and a little less traditional activities. Undoubtedly, sales operations can be challenging and honestly, sometimes a little thankless. But, it’s also incredibly rewarding.
Curious, what other creative and positive ways would you use to describe sales operations in either the things they do or perhaps the value they add?
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