The Role of Sales Operations Specialist is the missing job function
Without a sales operations specialist or sales enablement person in your team, it can hold your company back.
This is an increasing problem in companies whose sales organisation has expanded, but companies follow very traditional and dated structures. The habit of operating with legacies and tradition is pulling companies backwards and putting up unnecessary barriers to growth from human capital and financial perspective.
To put this in perspective, you can ask yourself, ‘what do we require from the sales department?’
- ‘Do you see sales as a group of people whose primary role is servicing customers and selling them products/services?
- Is the sales manager/leader there to meet with key customers and keep abreast of which customers the team attends?
If you have answered yes to those questions, then you are part of the 90% of companies in the Asia Pacific region that view sales the same – focused on the human side of selling.
Yes, we all agree that sales is about meeting customers, but who is managing that they are seeing the right customers, with the right skills, achieving the right orders and all the other contributors that make a sale of value to your company? Many companies have experienced the noise sales can make, keeping everyone busy but with little to no profit or growth output. This is the business side of sales.
Therefore, the next question that needs to be considered is, ‘who is looking after the business side of the sales?’
Typically it is expected that the sales manager or sales leader will have been managing all these aspects. Still, in reality, they are usually out flying around the country, meeting with key customers and ensuring the team is meeting with customers. Therefore, they are not desk-bound nor are sales operations on their priority list of interests.
This management approach works well in good markets, but when sales are not hitting their numbers each month-quarter, the challenge of what action to take becomes a trial-and-error approach. With the business side of sales not effectively managed, the company is moving into varying degrees of risk.
At some point, a position must exist in the company dedicated to the business of sales. This role is pivotal to driving growth and maintaining the focus and momentum required of sales teams to deliver the number. The sales ops person is an integral part of achieving change in a short period of time as they provide the facts for decision-making. It’s a specialist role and not that of an administration person.
In North America and Europe, these are very common roles to have in place, but for the Asia Pacific region, there has been a slow uptake and a low priority placed on the role. As a result, it’s often seen as a headcount cost and not the actual asset it is to a company.
If you look at recruitment sites’ advertising positions, you will find some very confusing advertisements drawing on the words sales operations, as young recruitment executives popularise the words trying to find an edge for their advertisements. It is very similar to the confusion related to salesforce effectiveness. You rarely see the role of a sales operations specialist advertised correctly.
The role of a sales ops is the glue that puts everything together from a business perspective. They do the leg work that enables quality decisions to be made and ensure the functionality of the sales business. In addition, they allow the company to shift to horizon management rather than historical measurement.
What is horizon management? Horizon management is always keeping an eye on the future and not just dealing with the then and now. As a result, today’s action may not appear in your financial report for three months or more.
The Sales Ops person does the desk work that requires a completely different set of skills to that of the sales manager. Therefore, if you have a team of ten or more salespeople or you are driven to deliver growth, you should seriously consider a sales ops person in the team.
To provide you with a brief overview of their tasks, you will instantly see how problems within your company could be avoided with the right structure. First, let’s look at a few of the primary tasks they perform.
- They coordinate sales forecasting, planning, and budgeting to set quotas and goals.
- They proactively monitor and maintain high-quality, accurate reporting and ensure people are consistently following the processes to drive the business.
- Works to ensure all sales objectives are assigned in a timely fashion.
- Monitors the behavioural indicators of sales to improve performance and understand the drivers of growth.
- Uses tools to validate the pipeline to ensure you are dealing with real numbers and not probability numbers.
- Establishes horizon management tools for effective sales management.
- Proactively identifies opportunities for sales process improvement.
- Monitors the accuracy and efficient distribution of sales reports and other intelligence essential to the sales team.
- Recommends revisions to existing reports or assists in the development of new reporting tools as needed.
- Implements enabling technologies, including CRM, to field sales teams and monitors compliance. Works closely with sales management to optimise the effectiveness of the firm’s technology investments.
- Coordinates training delivery to sales, sales management, and sales support personnel in the sales organisation supported.
And there is much more depending on your specific industry and company.
One can understand why these tasks fall by the wayside with an already busy sales manager.
The other impact of the sales ops person is that you are moving on from the dated thinking of sales being an autonomous role. A function where salespeople are free to roam the earth and do their best, using their interpretation of right and wrong.
You have moved to the point of understanding that, like all other company areas, you need processes and disciplines to operate a sales force. The adherence to the procedures, combined with a highly effective sales process and supporting tools, ensures the team represent the company correctly, and opportunities are secured and maximised.
Hiring a sales operations specialist is an important consideration, and with that hire, you also need to have in place the tools and structure that will allow them to add value to the company too.
If you would like to discuss the requirements for hiring for the role of sales operations specialist, please contact our office.
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