Behind every sales team is a sales operations person doing what is necessary to keep them efficient, effective and successful.  Sales operations is Robin to Batman.  The unsung hero.

They often do the thankless jobs with very minimal resources to fall back on.  They are expected to wear dozens of hats and be the jack of all trades.  Wow, why would anyone what that job?

Because when done successfully, fewer roles on a sales team can make a BIGGER impact.  So how do you make that big impact?  Here are 5 ways you can drive significant value as a sales operations leader.

  1. Be a service provider.  Sales and marketing are your customer.  What you do is deliver a set of services to that customer.  Treat them like one.  Provide a list of services that you offer along with service level agreements.  Promote the services that you deliver.  When and how you deliver them and how they can order them.  Run your role like a business. This will also help you organize your role.
  2. IT has to be your friend.  Yep, they can make or break you.  Efficiency and access to data in your role will be driven by technology.  Data is king.  CRM, ERP, CPQ (you pick the acronym) systems hold the data you need to succeed.  IT owns the platforms in most cases.  A strong business relationship with your key IT people is a must.  They also have a thankless job.  Take them out to lunch once and a while.
  3. Read up on psychology.  I know, that’s a yucky word.  Dealing with sales people requires skills in manipulation.  It’s about understanding behavior and how to get people to do what they don’t want to do.  Like enter key activities in your CRM system or update a forecast.  The best advice here is do more for others than what you ask them to do for you.  If you constantly deliver to your sales team, the majority of the team will deliver back to you when you need them to.  And be assertive but nice about it.  Being assertive and mean will only seal your failure.
  4. Open a two-way dialogue.  Interview your sales reps and mangers at least once a quarter to determine what they need to succeed.  Yeah, they will always ask for everything including the kitchen sink, but look for common request and deliver the things that will make a big impact in the shortest amount of time.  If you are not listening to your customers, adding additional services or improving the services that you are offering will be very difficult to do.
  5. Be proactive.  You will have a ton of wonderful data on hand.  Learning how to unlock the data and operationalize it will take you to a whole new level.  Yes, you are constantly being pulled in different directions.  Last minute requests are taking valuable time away from what you really want and need to do.  You have to set aside time to be proactive.  Invest in simple, efficient and affordable data mining and diagnostic tools that give you one-click access to data and doesn’t require a PHD to do it.  The tools should be proactive and alert you to changes or challenges in your team’s sales performance.

When done well, the role of sales operations has a significant and material impact on a sales team’s success.  Organizations that nurture excellent sales operations teams will find it easier to maintain a competitive edge, enhance sales force effectiveness, and achieve consistent, sustainable performance.  Being able to have such a big impact on a company is a job worth having.