Making The Case For A Sales Operations Team

June 1, 2016 Joe Vignolo

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you (figuratively) not to judge your organization’s sales process, but to present a case; a case that will convince you, without a shadow of a doubt, that your company, desperately and unequivocally, needs a sales operations team.

If you lack sales ops, you are short-changing your reps; robbing them of a well-managed, structured sales process. This dire deficiency - as there is truly no better way to put it - is hindering the effectiveness of your team and slowing down your sales cycle.

Now you may be asking yourself: “What is Sales Operations?” If you are to be persuaded by my argument, we’ll need to answer this fundamental question right away.

Sales ops is an evolving role but, as Colin Fong with InsightSquared puts it, "...most companies are still trying to figure [it] out." He goes on to say:

“...the ideal role for Sales Operations is to guide the sales team by developing structured sales process, analyzing sales performance with the framework of that process, and implementing solutions based on the results of their analysis.”

Makes sense, but let’s put it in plain English, shall we? Sales ops is about turning sales into a well-oiled machine, removing friction and replicating the knowledge and performance of the company’s best sales reps.

Sound good? The logical next question is how.

 

Exhibit  A - Structure for Success

Is your sales process a work of art? A shining example of how it’s done? That may be the case, but how long will that last, especially as you scale?  Are you putting that “perfect” process under the microscope? What are your metrics? Are there leaks in your funnel?

You probably know your overall win rate, but that’s like saying “60% of the time it works every time.” It’s just not specific enough. You need to get granular.

Sales ops can examine your process, identify weak spots and use data to develop a stronger system. They will strive to answer the question “where are we losing deals?” And to do so, they’ll dig deep, looking for trends. Leaks will be visible with a little scrutiny, allowing you to find the underlying cause. Is there a flaw in the demo process? Is the handoff from SDR to AE too soon?

According to The Definitive Sales Ops Handbook, sales ops should - and will - answer those questions by looking at stage-to-stage conversion rates, average deal size, opportunity pipeline and sales cycle. If that examination is done consistently, they’ll recognize symptoms before your sales process catches cold. Peter Mollins with KnowledgeTree emphasizes that point, writing:

“...sales operations has their finger on the analytics pulse, and can spot trends that lead to recommendations about how to adjust the sales strategy.”

 

Exhibit  B - Moving the Middle  

In most organizations, top reps - those who consistently meet or exceed their quota - only represent 20% of the sales staff. Part of what sales ops does is to move the middle, the 60% of reps who often meet or are just shy of their numbers. Even a small improvement can yield big results. Think of it this way: a simple five percent gain in the middle 60% of your sales performers can deliver over 91% greater sales than a 5% shift in your top 20%.

This is where the “replicating the knowledge and performance of the company’s best sales reps” part comes in. Sales ops can identify what your top reps are doing and design processes that enable the middle to consistently close high-quality deals and crush their quotas. That may include better sales playbooks, improved onboarding and a reexamination of your company’s quota/reward structure. This becomes crucial as your company begins to scale and hire more sales reps.

 

Exhibit C - The Right Tools for the Right Job

Here’s a sobering fact: sales reps spend just ⅓ of their time actually selling. So what takes up the rest of their time? According to Docurated, reps spend 31% of their time searching for and creating content, and another 20% doing administrative work. A fifth of a rep’s day is spent reporting and filling out fields in the CRM! Furthermore, a recent EMI Industry Intelligence Report found that “...in an average week, technology sales professionals spend eight hours developing client presentations, fives hours searching for marketing collateral, and four hours trying to find customer information outside the organization.”

Sales ops will provide reps with the appropriate tools to free up time for actual revenue-generating activities. They will not only identify the gaps where new solutions could help, but pioneer the discovery and adoption of these technologies to streamline sales processes. These could include sales acceleration, data enrichment and email management tools. Sales ops will also ensure these tools are fully integrated with your CRM; are scalable and flexible; and easily implemented so your reps can immediately see the value, guaranteeing team-wide adoption.

 

Conclusion

As your business grows, the need to build a more structured, streamlined sales process becomes crucial. Sales ops will allow you to scale by effectively leveraging new tools and best practices that will boost productivity and effectiveness of your reps. Bringing on a sales ops team will not be painless but, as the evidence shows, the benefits heavily outweigh the temporary discomfort of analyzing and evaluating your sales process.

Download our Sales Operations Playbook for more information on how Sales Ops can boost your sales team's performance.

About the Author

Joe Vignolo

Joe is the Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Datanyze, specializing in authentic storytelling that connects and converts. Before joining Datanyze, he was an award-winning broadcast journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also believes Point Break is a shining example of American cinema.

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