Have you ever played the game “nose goes”? It’s where you’re with a group of people and there’s an activity that needs to get done for the group’s collective benefit, like getting up to find the remote so you can all watch Game of Thrones or running out to the store for more beer to keep the party going. Every person quickly touches their nose, and the last person to do it loses and has to go do the task. Deciding who in an organization is going to own the sales operations function is the opposite of that game. Everybody wants to do it, and because sales ops supports so many other business functions, it’s difficult to decide which org structure is best. 

This is with good reason – arguably, sales operations houses the most valuable data in an organization as it’s the hub where all lead, sales, and customer activity is collated into meaningful insights and analytics that are sent to mobile workers and key decision-makers throughout your company. The name can be a bit deceiving, because while sales ops is tasked with supporting sales organizations in particular, many other business units throughout a company benefit from the insights they provide. 

Finance

Who sales operations reports into depends on what its role in the organization is. If the primary role of sales ops is to provide analysis, some companies will have the department report to Finance, although this situation is uncommon. 

Pro: This makes sales ops independent from both marketing and sales so they don’t have to pick and choose between each organization’s initiatives.  

Con: Sales ops might be less focused on supporting the sales team with leads and mobile analytics. 

Marketing

Sales ops and marketing should work hand in hand to generate and distribute quality leads to field and inside sales teams, but does this mean marketing should own sales ops completely? 

Pro: Uniting sales ops and marketing formally can lead to a more harmonious and effective lead generation program

Con: Marketing can be disconnected from the reality of the sales process, so they might inadvertently limit the support that sales teams need from their operations counterparts.  

Sales

Sales operations is undeniably intertwined with sales and responsible for providing sales teams with extensive support, whether that means managing data and helping Sales VPs choose which metrics to use or which analytics to give their mobile teams, providing sales teams with mobile dashboards, maintaing the CRM system, lead management, or pricing and contract support. But making sales ops report directly to sales in your org structure can also lead to other unforeseen consequences. 

Pro: Sales is supported from every aspect. 

Con: Sales leaders can often be focused on short term results, like making next quarter’s quota, but sales ops needs to use the data and insights they glean from it to advise on long term strategy and goals.

Management

Many organizations choose to avoid the battle between sales and marketing completely by having sales ops report directly to management. 

Pro: Sales ops remains independent from both marketing and sales and give better insight into what’s best for the company as a whole. 

Con: In this scenario, sales ops bears the risk of functioning only to provide management with specific metrics while failing to provide the day to day support other departments may need. 

As a Standalone Department

In my opinion, this scenario combines the best of both worlds. It forces sales ops to be more objective and work with multiple internal groups (sales, marketing, finance, management, etc), while also empowering sales ops to focus on their own critical initiatives and goals. 

Pro: Promotes the sales operations department as an objective influence, providing insight and support across the entire company

Con: Sales ops is less intertwined the sales teams. 

Who does sales operations report to in your company? What do you think is the best organizational structure? 

Let us know in the comments below. 

To learn what metrics are most important for sales ops to be tracking, download our eBook today.

Post originally published at www.blog.roambi.com

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