Ten years ago not many business professionals had heard the term ‘sales operations’ and if so, it was a function reserved for large multinational corporations. With B2B sales becoming an increasingly complex and longer process, sales operations has proven to be a valuable function for organisations of all sizes. Recruiters in the US and UK have seen a huge rise in sales operations positions in the last year. More often than not many organisations are setting up a new sales ops function.
Uncertainly about sales operations is resulting in a number of very confused recruiting processes taking place, recruiters can confirm. Its clear from reading a handful of role profiles that many people have become a bit aware of the function, but not really sure what sales operations means. You will never find someone who wants to work at both a secretarial and a strategic level, even at the smallest firm. This confusion and lack of knowledge what sales operations is often manifests as looking for someone cheap then determining the resources interviewed are, in fact, too junior. Senior candidates that are a better fit are often not motivated by junior positions. It can be tough.
Getting an outside perspective to understand the maturity of your organisation can really help ensure you hire the right candidate. Luring in someone to work in a strategic capacity when the organisation is immature will lead to frustration. Hiring someone junior will limit how far you are able to grow and a lack of leadership and dead ends can be expensive and time consuming to reset. It’s a fine balance.
If you are having trouble setting up a sales ops function, Sales Ops Help can help you. So what are the bare minimums to consider when setting up sales operations, besides, of course, a clear roadmap?
A managed CRM
I am a business of one, and even I have a CRM. It helps me manage contacts, follow-ups and long terms projects I’m working to build relationships with. The point is this is a tool FOR sales. Yes, there is great sales management reporting, but its important to remember CRM stands for customer relationship management. Its not called a FPT (forecast management tool) – its called a customer relationship management system, and that’s at the heart of what these tools do. New sales organisations often forget about the long term picture they are building and a CRM is vital for maintaining momentum.
There are many options out there, at a variety of costs to fit all budgets. There are some platforms that scale better than others. Picking the right one, or migrating to a new solution, is all about what you hope to achieve without over complicating life for your organisation.
Clear goals at all levels
Sales goals need to be clear (transparent and part of regular reporting) and achievable. The best way of checking this is combining a top down and bottom up approach. Considering the market size, bandwidth of your individuals and reasonable conversion rates is key. It is important to develop key intermediate KPIs to ensure progress toward those goals is being made. Again, there’s a range of complexity available here but when it comes to goals and a plan to achieve, something is better than nothing. Detailed velocity stats is a good ideas, but a lead plan as well as monthly goals for opportunity creation is the bare minimum. Finally, above all, it is very important your organisation has a culture of ‘inspect what you expect’.
There are lucky sales reps, over time, there are no lucky sales organisations. Having a clear and professional process is key to sustainable results. Processes should be both clearly articulated with a common language and clearly documented. This should be part of new hire training, regular sales meetings as well as refresher sessions. Please see my blog Getting Lucky… All Its Cracked Up to Be? for some initial tips how to create repeatable processes in your sales org.
For more information please read my offering for a Sales Ops Health Check. You can also read what Next Generation Sales Operations means to me. If you would like to contact Marissa, I am open to an initial chat, anytime. I would be happy to provide a few hours of coaching or perhaps a longer project to setup a function.
Original post from 3 Aug 2016 and updated 26 Feb 2017