For growing companies, sales operations is a critical function. It provides support for the sales team to allow them to focus on customers and prospects instead of on administrative processes.

With the average sales rep spending only 22% of their time selling, sales operations can provide a high return on investment for most companies. The inverse is also true. A recent survey cites the lack of investment in sales operations and inadequate sales operations headcount as key challenges for companies.

If you are like most senior executives, the functions below aren’t top of mind. But if they aren’t executed correctly, your company’s growth will be artificially limited.

Defining Sales Operations

The functions assigned to sales operations may vary, but often include:

  • Sales process definition
  • CRM administration
  • Sales analytics and forecasting
  • Compensation design
  • Post sales fulfillment
  • Training
  • Administrative support
  • Sales tools

There generally isn’t enough time to fully execute on all of these areas, so it becomes critical for companies to focus their sales operations team on areas where they can get the most leverage.

Who does sales operations report to?

As you can see from the above list, sales operations has two core goals that can sometimes be in conflict:

  • Improving sales productivity; and
  • Administering and reporting on sales.

There is a fine balance between these two goals, and identifying where sales operations reports to can have a significant impact on the focus of the role. Typically, sales operations reports to either the sales or finance departments.

As the leading provider of turnkey administrative support for sales teams, Prialto sees a variety of different structures /responsibilities for sales operations, each with its own trade-offs and considerations:

Trade-Off Finance-Led Sales Ops Focus Sales-Led Sales Ops Focus Gross Revenues vs. Gross Margin Focus on gross margin Focus on top line Reporting vs. Support Compensation analytics and forecasting have measurable returns Training and sales enablement are more difficult to measure Sales Process vs. Sales Fulfillment Booking and implementing revenue Improving sales processes to generate more sales

The proper organizational structure for each organization will vary based on the company’s stage of growth and priorities. While larger companies typically see sales operations report to finance, no matter where sales operations is aligned, the top goal remains the same: increasing profits by making sales easily scalable.