When to Bring in Sales Operations

sales operationsLately, we’ve all heard the term “sales operations” get thrown around about as often as things like sales stack, sales enablement and sales acceleration.

You can be a great salesperson, coach, leader and visionary, but sometimes data and process just isn’t your thing — that’s where sales ops comes in.

Your sales ops person integrates technology that aligns with your current sales process (instead of distracting away from it). They understand the importance of sales fundamentals, but also how to bolster them with a sales stack.

An early-stage company is probably not the right place for sales ops due to budget and staffing restrictions. After all, this hire represents another non-quota-carrying person.

But maybe you are growing so fast that you’ve hit a tipping point, where your team has 10-20 reps and manages hundreds of transactions over a quarter. In today’s modern sales world, you want someone focused on increasing the productivity of your sales team, while also reducing inefficient processes in your pipeline.

What You Need from Sales Operations

What sales ops does.

You’re familiar with sales ops, but what do you really need out of the role? At a basic level, the sales ops functions should…

  • Pipeline organization
  • Deal flow process tracking
  • Data records and analyzation
  • System management

In essence, your sales ops person understands how the entire sales pipeline is tracked from open to close.

Sales ops understands the health of your sales organization and pipeline. They take all the sales data entered by reps and draw conclusions that can assist you with forecasting, coaching and other higher level decisions. Sales ops is your data interpreter and your right-hand person.

Who to hire.

To say a sales ops person needs to be data-driven would be somewhat of an understatement. They can come from a background in technology, but don’t have to. They need to have an “operations mindset” and a thirst to understand the behavior of your reps, as well as how that behavior is translated into your CRM.

Your sales ops person isn’t just someone who looks at a dashboard. They dig behind it, above it and all around it. They want to know:

  • Why didn’t we hit quota this month?
  • Have we ever hit quota?  
  • What should we be do more of?
  • What should we be do less of?
  • What processes led to this outcome
  • How can these processes be more effective?

Sales ops should have a forward-focus mindset toward technology — specifically, your sales stack. They follow the latest sales ops and business intelligence trends.

At the same time, they’re budget-conscious. They can’t buy every piece of technology under the sun, so they develop processes to determine which pieces of tech are worth the ROI.

When to bring in sales ops.

There’s no single red flag that will tell you when you need to bring in a sales ops person. It could be a culmination of things. Here are a few examples:

  • You consistently find that information in your CRM is missing or inaccurate
  • Sales reps spend too much time on data entry or can’t search effectively
  • You don’t know historical conversion rates in the sales process
  • You have several pieces of sales technology and a lack of clarity on what it all does
  • Administrative processes slow down sales

Merely bringing in a sales ops person won’t automatically solve all of these problems for you, but it could be the key to finding a solution.

If you do decide to search for a sales ops person, ask for specific ideas of how candidates would optimize your sales organization. You want to bring in sales operations to help things move forward, not slow them down.

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