Sales operations is shaping the future of sales and marketing organizations – the “who’s”, “what’s”, and “why’s” we should know about.

Nowadays, some of the best sales forces are empowered by technological innovations and advancements. Just take a look at how rapidly social networks, mobile technologies, and cloud-based applications are growing in size. These trends and tools open up a lot of opportunities for organizations to widen their market, generate more sales, and attain sustainable growth in profit.

As science and technology slowly but surely take over people’s lives, sales organizations become more and more dependent on systematic procedures and data analysis. Hence, the vital role of sales operations. According to Dharmendra Sahay and Scott Shimamoto, Principals at ZS Associates, sales operations is uniquely positioned to leverage data and technology to support the sales organization, diagnose issues, and design solutions.

To best understand the nuts-and-bolts that make up sales operations, recognition of the wide variety of the sales operations teams’ tasks and functions is key. Knowing what the sales operations analysts’ description is, we will be able to better comprehend and appreciate the role of the teams’ in sales operations.

Let’s get to know more about who the people in sales operations are, what are their roles and responsibilities, and why they play a crucial part in the growth of organizations in detail.

But first things first… what IS sales operations?

Since the birth of modern sales organizations, most -if not- all of us are familiar with the typical, well-defined characters that play essential roles in the sales organizations. These are the persistent sales reps, canny managers, charismatic VPs, and goal-driven CEOs.

Sales operations professionals also play a major character in the organization, however, they are new and some companies are still trying to figure them out. Despite there being a thousand of sales operations professionals in the US alone, and its function has become commonly well-known, there’s still a lack of clarity of what sales operations really is.

According to Wikipedia, sales operations is a set of business activities and processes that help a sales organization run effectively, efficiently, and in support of business strategies and objectives. In short, sales operations is the “backbone” of a sales organization.

Here are the roles and responsibilities of sales operations:

The ideal role of sales operations is to provide guidance to the sales teams by developing a well-structured sales process, analyzing team performance within the framework of that process, enhance the team’s productivity and effectiveness, and implement solutions based on data and analysis.

Sales operations need constant development to further maximize the sales team’s abilities and skills to create a smoother sales process.

The sales operations’ responsibilities are to discover high-level, notable, strategic findings, and learn how to transform them into significant strategies and use them to help sales reps, managers, and VP to hit their targets.

Let’s take a look at the common set of functions that sales operations teams are typically responsible for. Since the main aim of sales operations is to reduce friction in the sales process and incorporate itself into the organization so as to ensure the execution of the company’s sales strategy, then we’ll realize that sales operations is a strategic function. Here are some key elements to consider:

  1. Driving Sales Strategy
  2. Sales Excellence
  3. Sales Team Organization
  4. Team Efficiency and Execution

Who are Sales Operations Analysts?

A sales operations analyst’s description varies for different companies and organizations. Sales operations analysts are the ones responsible for handling and managing the workflow of an organization’s sales processes, enabling sales operations to go smoothly and ensure the implementation of sales strategies to further the growth of the organization. Hence, the strategic function of sales operations teams.

What does a Sales Operations Analyst do?

The practical role and task of sales operations analyst widely vary from one company to the next. Although, it is thought that the basic mission of a sales operations analyst is to gather and organize data, and generate deeper customer insight in order to enhance the sales force’s productivity. Essentially, sales operations teams can choose to offer varying levels of service depending on a sales organizations’ sophistication.

Sales operations analysts have a primary level of service: support. This includes generating sales performance reports, managing administrative programs like incentive compensation plans, and keeping customer relationship management relevant. The next level of service is delivering information and insight to the right people at the right time, including highlights of emerging problems, misalignments, and other challenges. The third level includes developing potential solutions to sales force effectiveness challenges across a range of critical areas, such as customer segmentation, sales resource optimization, sales process, talent development, and motivation.

Lastly, the highest level of impact that sales operations analyst distinguish themselves is as strategic partners. They detect emerging customer or market trends and help determine how the business can meet those opportunities and challenges to drive greater sales success.

Some of their tasks include:

  1. Analyzing and developing sales operations policies and procedures.
  2. Working in the field with sales representatives to identify opportunities for improvement.
  3. Assisting in managing compliance program and sales operations help desk.
  4. Maintaining existing sales reports and designs new reports as needed. Participates in the evaluation, selection, and implementation of a decision-support tool.
  5. Acting as primary liaison on sales force automation projects/trends.
  6. Developing promotional material distribution capability incorporating state-of-the-art technology.
  7. Keeping the sales force in check tactically.
  8. Making sure everyday tasks are aligned with the company strategy.

What is a Senior Sales Operations Analyst?

Senior sales operations analysts lead and manage the entirety of sales operations and keep sales operations analysts intact and provide them with measurable goals to fulfill. They play an integral part in helping senior management understand how to scale the sales organization and drive incremental revenue and growth opportunities.

Some of their key responsibilities are:

  1. Coordinating revenue forecasting and budgeting processes used within the sales organization; establishing high levels of quality, accuracy, and consistency
  2. Conducting analyses to gain deeper insights into business
  3. Partnering with Finance on compensation design and providing goals for the sales organization
  4. Administering, managing, and reporting on revenue forecasting and analysis
  5. Assist with maintaining the functional areas of data management, forecasting, contacts, leads, opportunities, dashboards and reports, and ensuring data integrity throughout our CRM system
  6. Responsible for creating the metrics to evaluate sales efficiency and productivity
  7. Establishing effective analysis of sales force trends and performance in an effort to identify greater efficiencies and better manage and understand process bottlenecks and inconsistencies throughout the entire sales lifecycle
  8. Assessing client and sales trends, feedback, and market movement; consolidate into recommendations for the executive team
  9. Performing ad hoc analysis for senior management to provide data support for business decisions
  10. Evaluating new tools and platforms to improve reporting and sales operations

By looking into the tasks and responsibilities of sales operations, sales operations analysts, and senior sales operations analysts…

We can deduce why they are considered as a fundamental component of sales organizations and companies. As our world marches toward further technological growth and as technology increases its influence over mankind, the need of capable sales operations teams grows as well.

Companies and organizations that foster and develop excellent sales operations teams will find it easier to continue and maintain a competitive edge, enhance sales force productivity and effectiveness, and achieve consistent, sustainable sales success.

“In the end, all business operations can be reduced into three words; people, product, and profit. Unless you’ve got a good team, you can’t do much with the other two.”

-Lee Iacocca

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