A Guide to Sales Operations and How to Integrate with Technology

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn what a sales operation is, why it’s crucial to your sales infrastructure’s success!

Think of any successful team from any walk of life, and you will notice that they all have one thing in common: incredible leadership. Let’s take the example of a rowing team. Their leader, or the coxswain, sits at the stern of the boat to help steer the way and direct the rowers’ rhythm. Without a leader, even the most influential athletes in the world would suffer from a lack of direction, and fail to achieve their fullest potential. A sales operations department is very much the coxswain of a sales team. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn what a sales operation is, why it’s crucial to your sales infrastructure’s success, and how you can build your very own sales ops team (and how to integrate technology in the process)

What is a Sales Operation?

A sales operation is an internal team responsible for managing your sales process and software integrations for an organization. It’s a cross-departmental team that sits between your marketing and sales teams. When a sales team is functioning at an optimal level, it is able to respond quickly to customer needs and close sales efficiently. However, achieving this can be difficult for organizations of any size due to the nature of their activities. An effective sales operation helps teams to focus on closing deals as quickly as possible and as efficiently as possible. This can involve managing lead generation and funnel activities, processes for responding to leads, managing contracts, and more.

Why do sales operations?

The main reason organizations invest in a sales operation is to increase efficiency and close more deals. This can be achieved by streamlining your sales processes and minimizing time-wasting activities such as data entry. Sales operations can help grow sales by improving the quality of leads and improving sales rep productivity. This is done by optimizing sales rep's time by reducing administrative tasks.

What is the Difference Between Sales Operations & Sales Enablement?

Sales operations and sales enablement are often thought of as the same thing. But they do have some key differences. Sales operations is the management of your sales processes, integrations, and the software itself. It manages the people, data, and tools that are the foundation of the sales process. Sales enablement is the support and education provided to your sales reps. It’s about providing the resources and coaching your reps need to be successful. Sales enablement and operations are both important, but they are distinct from one another.

Sales Operation Process

A sales operation is primarily responsible for ensuring the smooth running of your sales funnel. This can be achieved by employing the correct lead-to-contract process and mapping it to your sales software. Sales operations have a lot of responsibility, and one of the most important aspects of this job is mapping your sales funnel to the right sales process. The funnel, whether it’s lead cold or warm, will always have the same basic stages. These include: -

  1. Lead Source- Where are they coming from?
  2. Lead Assignment- Who is responsible for dealing with the lead?
  3. Lead qualification- What is the likelihood that this lead will become a customer?
  4. Lead routing- Where should the lead go next?
  5. Lead conversion- What is the best way to convert the lead into a customer?
  6. Lead Close- What happens after the lead becomes a customer?

Staff Structure of a Sales Operation

There is no set model for the structure of a sales operation, but there are some core team members that are likely to play a role in any successful organization. It is important to note that the structure of your sales team is likely to change over time as your business grows. As such, you should ensure you have a model that is highly adaptable and easy to adjust as required.

  1. Sales Leaders: These are the people at the top of the food chain. They are responsible for the team’s success and have oversight of all activities. In smaller organizations, this role may be fulfilled by the sales manager.
  2. Marketing Executives: Marketing and sales operations have a symbiotic relationship. The success of your marketing activities depends on your sales team’s ability to convert leads. Conversely, your sales team relies on marketing to provide leads.
  3. Sales Operations Executives: This team handles everything to do with the sales funnel. They are responsible for mapping your funnel and ensuring it is flowing correctly.
  4. Data Analysts: Data is the lifeblood of any sales operation. Sales operations rely on data to make decisions, forecast future outcomes, and visualize progress towards goals.
  5. Customer Success Managers: The purpose of a sales operation is to get customers to buy. The customer success team is responsible for managing your customers after a deal has been closed. This could involve anything from onboarding new customers to resolving post-sales issues.

Sales Operation Metrics

Metrics are an important part of any business, and they are especially crucial in sales operations. These metrics can help you to understand how well your sales process is running, spot areas that could be improved, and measure the success of your sales ops team. There are many different metrics you could choose to monitor, ranging from sales rep productivity to lead conversion rates. Below is a list of some of the most important metrics for sales operations: -

  1. Sales Cycle Length: The length of time between a lead being generated and the close of a deal. This is a useful indicator of how quickly your team is responding to leads.
  2. Close Rate: The number of deals closed for a given period of time. This is a useful indicator of how successful your team is at converting leads.
  3. Gross Margin: This metric indicates how much profit your team is generating. It is calculated by taking the total sales generated and deducting the cost of goods sold (COGS).
  4. Average Revenue per Employee: The average revenue earned per member of staff. This is a good indicator of how efficient your team is.
  5. Lead Conversion Rate: The number of leads closed divided by the number of leads generated. This is a good indicator of how successful your lead generation activities are.

Sales ops steps into the spotlight

There are many benefits to having a sales operation in your organization and many companies have found success with this approach. But, as we have discussed, there are also challenges. For example, it can be difficult to find the right people for these positions, and the task of integrating software and other systems can be extremely challenging. Nonetheless, a sales operation can transform your organization and be a key driver of growth. A well-functioning and equipped sales operation will help your sales team to reach its full potential. And, if you are able to integrate technology into this process, you will make the most of your investment and improve the efficiency of your sales team.

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