If sales were a movie, your sales operations team would be the behind-the-scenes crew that made that movie possible.
Yeah, sales ops is that important.
Is it as glamourous-sounding as sales? No way. But it’s what ensures your business runs smoothly and facilitates an environment in which effective deals can be made.
Sales ops is a broad term that describes a group of people who directly impact both a company’s top line (productivity) and bottom line (efficiency) performance.
The ultimate goal of sales ops is to help sales teams close as many deals as possible, in as little time as possible.
Despite its importance, a lot of companies out there either don’t have a sales ops team in place, or they have one, but they’re not operating as effectively as they could.
So, I’ve put together this guide to demystify what exactly sales ops teams do with seven “essentials” to successful sales ops:
- Always keep your data house clean.
- Reporting, reporting, reporting,
- Forecast out the future.
- Celebrate the wins + work out the lows.
- Have clear, defined goals.
- Put in the effort to really understand the role of your sales reps.
- When it comes to tech, less is more.
Let's dive in.
1. Always keep your data house clean.
An inaccurately updated contact or account could pose a very embarrassing situation… imagine reaching out to a hot new “prospect” only for them to tell you they’ve been a customer for the last year. Awkward.
Making sure your fields are up-to-date, clearly labeled, and accurately populated is an absolute must when it comes to your sales team’s success.
With Copper, you can use the default fields or create your own custom fields to record and organize your customers’ information.
No matter how big or small your company is, if all your customer data isn’t in one place or your reps are calling people the rest of the team has no record of whatsoever (e.g. they’re calling people off of a personal email or piece of paper), then no record will be kept of that lead. Which means that information will be missing from your data warehouse—which means you won’t be able to track where that lead is in the pipeline.
If your sales reps aren’t all using a centralized database, it impacts everyone. It’s an ops leader’s job to find a tool that everyone can (and will) use to keep data organized—or to train them on how to use the existing data warehouse effectively.
2. Reporting, reporting, reporting.
Once you have a clean database, you’ll be able to run reports with ease and have peace of mind knowing they’re correct and error-free.
You want to be able to make sense of your data and use it to get a view of the full picture of how your sales are doing. This shows you where you’re finding success, and where you’re falling flat.
The Loss Reasons report in Copper gives you an overview of what the biggest reasons were for your lost opportunities.
A clean database is great, but setting yourself up with the reports to make the right decision at the right time should be a sales ops leader’s ultimate goal.
Not sure what to measure? Read this article to learn the top metrics every sales team should track.
3. Forecast out the future.
Where a lot of companies go wrong is by having an inaccurate immediate forecasting outlook—and by that I mean the next quarter or two. Having this time accurately mapped out is critical for your sales team’s success.
If you spend too much money chasing after leads during this time, you’ll go over your budget; if you spend too little money, you won’t get all the sales opportunities you could and should get.
Businesses fail when they’re unable to get a clear grasp of their outlook for the next quarter or two. Without good forecasting, you might as well be driving with a blindfold on.
You need to be able to foresee and map out the future of the business.
Forecasting isn’t easy. However, something is better than nothing, so putting some foundational metrics in place and going from there is always recommended.
With Copper’s easy-to-use reports, you can pull up an accurate overview of your sales forecast in no time.
4. Celebrate the wins and work out the lows.
Celebrating quota-achievers and closing big deals is something that pumps up everyone in the company, not just the sales team.
So, make these things visible to everyone.
I like a dashboard that tells me all of our current metrics like the number of leads we’ve connected with, opportunities created, and opportunities won/lost.
Having a dashboard like this provides a common stage for sales teams to want to perform their best on—and they get to see it all play out instantly.
On the flip-side, you need to be able to address underperformance issues as well. Letting under-performance linger reduces revenue, increases costs, and drags down margins (not to mention the morale of others).
This one doesn’t need to be quite so public (in other words, there’s no need for a dashboard calling out under-performers) but it’s something that sales ops leaders should pay attention to and take seriously.
5. Have clear, defined goals.
For starters, write a mission statement for your sales ops team and share it with everyone in your company. This will serve as a guide to where your organization is headed, so no one is stuck navigating blindly.
To define your goals, first choose a metric you want to impact (close rate, deal size, sales cycle length, etc.). Then, determine what your definition of success will be (for example, a 20% increase or decrease). This is your goal.
Share these goals with both the marketing and sales teams to make sure they’re aligned with one another. (These are two busy teams that are often heads-down on their own projects and goals, so it’s nice to have a mediator bringing the two together.)
At Copper, for example, we have regular meetings to make sure no one’s doing duplicate work, and also just to catch up on what each of us is working on, the issues at hand, etc. This helps all of us stay on the same page.
6. Put in the effort to really understand the role of your sales reps.
Take the time to literally sit in with your sales reps and shadow them to see what they do on a daily basis and how they do it. This will give you a bird’s eye view of any challenges they’re facing in their day-to-day workflow that sales ops can improve.
For example, maybe there are tedious things they do that could be better handled with automation. You could then find a new tool or adjust the structure of the workflow overall to give sales reps more time to do what they do best: making sales.
Copper can be set up to complete certain actions when certain triggers happen—automatically.
7. When it comes to tech, less is more.
The fewer amount of tools a rep needs to worry about to get their job done, the more productive they can be.
Quality > quantity really holds true here.
Tech can be—and is—essential to the role of a sales rep and can make them perform that much more efficiently. But if they have to switch between multiple tools constantly, the opposite happens.
Having too many tools also makes training harder, is usually more expensive overall, and is just a bigger headache. There are really no benefits to getting too complicated with tech.
Invest the time and research into putting together a killer tech stack for your sales team. This also ties back to our previous point of understanding your reps’ roles. Knowing exactly how they use the existing tools can help you decide what a “killer tech stack” actually means for your team’s unique needs.
An example of an elaborate tech stack. Depending on the needs on your company, you may only need a couple of tools under each category.
Sales operations: challenging, but never boring.
Sales ops is a big responsibility, to say the least. As sales ops leaders, we’re responsible for a lot of different things and operating in an environment that’s always changing.
But when it’s done right? It can impact revenue in a big way.