In larger organizations, sales has become more operational and less dependent on individual representatives. With the ability to find anyone’s contact information on the public domain, rolodexes have become obsolete. With email, messaging apps and social media, relationships can be established without folks ever actually meeting each other.
Furthermore, buyers are more educated about the product and services you sell, which pressures companies to develop truly innovative products and artfully articulate their unique value propositions. For these reasons, inside sales has flourished and that has leveled the playing field among sales-driven companies.
The advent of the Internet has dramatically shortened the sales cycle. New tools also make fulfilling select tasks faster and easier. Despite these trends, the processes within sales teams have become more complicated. To combat that, the most effective sales departments have begun operating like assembly lines with business development reps managing initial outreach, inside sales reps meeting with prospective clients, and sales operations managers optimizing the funnel.
The holistic thinker and jack-of-all-trades
The goal of every sales operations manager is to maximize the productivity of their team. To do this, the sales operations manager becomes an expert in analytics, content creation, sales & marketing technology, and office politics.
According to sales expert Matt Heinz, sales operation managers make an impact in 8 different ways:
- Active CRM ownership and optimization. The sales operation team sets up the company’s CRM in a way that compliments how customers buy its products and in a manner that avoids creating extra work for its sales representatives.
- Tool integrations. A smart sales ops manager selects tools that streamline the way their team works by automating repetitive tasks.
- Better reporting & dashboards. Sales ops is accountable for developing insightful analytics that help team members identify areas for improvement and opportunities for further growth.
- Process improvement. Sales ops managers regularly review the steps required to generate leads, schedule calls and close deals, and actively seek out ways to include value-added steps and eliminate redundancies.
- Best practice collection, inventory and sharing. Sales ops records important lessons learned from both successful and failed sales experiments, converts those into actionable insights and shares that knowledge with the team.
- Vendor filter, triage and selection. Salespeople are spoiled in terms of the sheer volume of tools they can purchase to improve their performance. With an intimate understanding of how well different programs work together and the true needs of their sales team, sales ops managers intelligently choose the right solutions that will enhance overall sales efficiency.
- Comfort connecting with customers. Sales ops managers spend time interacting with current and prospective clients. By exercising their soft skills, they learn what sort of language ticks with buyers.
- Ownership of templates & collateral inventory, consistency and access. According to research by Kapost, “65% of sales reps say they can’t find content to send to prospects, representing the most common complaint cited by sales teams.” To avoid confusing and overwhelming salespeople, successful sales ops teams build shared folders that only include updated versions of client-ready documents.
Over time, sales operations managers streamline employee workflows to expand the sales pipeline, offer insights to help convert more sales and remove distractions to keep salespeople focused on selling.
Recruiting the right talent
Companies with just a handful of salespeople should consider hiring a sales operations manager. In order to identify the right candidate, minimum qualifications should include:
- Sharp analytical skills and experience building business intelligence dashboards
- An administrator certification for the CRM you use
- Comfort in dealing with complementary sales tools such as Prospect, PandaDoc and Qualtrics
- Ability to build and develop harmonious interdepartmental relations
- Strong communications and copywriting skills
A smart sales ops leader allows companies to stay lean, yet grow faster. With the help of a successful sales operations manager, businesses with fewer salespeople can still send hundreds (or thousands) of cold emails each day, schedule dozens of exploratory calls with prospective clients, and close bigger and better deals than their larger counterparts.
The changes your first sales ops hire will bring to your organization will make you wonder why you didn’t recruit that person sooner. Within weeks, you will notice a remarkable boost in sales output and productivity, a sharp reduction in process headaches and redundancies, and an uptick in company morale as your salespeople find themselves less stressed and better equipped to drive results.
If you’ve recruited an awesome sales ops team already, which new programs, processes or tools have they implemented so far? And how have those things impacted your bottom line? If you’re ready to bring on your first sales ops manager, keep the above tips in mind and let us know how things work out!