What do you call someone who works in Sales Operations? Seriously, that’s not a setup for a bad joke — what’s the broad term for Sales Ops pros? One company has “operations analysts,” while another employs “directors of Sales Ops,” and a third prefers “managers of global sales operations.” Which one gets to the heart of what Sales Operations actually is?
The wide range of titles is indicative of the fact that no one is really sure. Everyone is still figuring out what the right role is for Sales Ops, and because of this state of the world, Sales Ops means something a little bit different from company to company.
For some, Sales Ops exists solely to provide tactical support to the sales team. For others, Sales Ops assumes a more strategic role as well, and has an executive voice that molds sales processes and strategy. Regardless of these variations, the ultimate goal of every Sales Operations team is consistent: their job is to maximize the efficiency of revenue generation.
There is a certain type of person who excels at accomplishing that goal: the Sales Ops All Star. These All Stars are all:
- 1. Analytical: Sales Operations is inherently a numbers-driven specialty. Regardless of how the role differs at a high level from company to company, every Sales Ops pro must be able to see patterns in data and run tests to figure out how the sales team can work more efficiently.
- 2. Organized: The job of Sales Operations is, in many ways, the task of creating order out of chaos. Their weapon of choice in that endeavor is process — they use the structure that a concrete, measurable sales process provides to channel and streamline the activities of the sales team.Those who excel in the field have experience setting guidelines, managing activity (both their own and other people’s), and creating and enforcing set processes.
- 3. Persuasive: Sales Ops is often tasked with getting people to do things that they aren’t enthusiastic about (getting reps to use a CRM properly is a prime example). Because of this, Sales Ops All Stars are also good salespeople. Obviously, they’re not out prospecting and closing deals, but they know how to gather support for projects, create momentum to complete them, and then communicate value and ensure that they stay in place after they’ve been implemented.
- 4. Diplomatic: A big part of the Sales Operations job is to drive momentum for projects that involve different departments, and develop alignment across teams. The role is becoming increasingly strategic, and more and more companies leverage Sales Ops as an independent unit that is not directly tied to the goals or leadership of other departments.Sales Ops All Stars are the people who know how to navigate conflicting interests (such as the classic clash of sales and marketing attribution), identify the most pragmatic solution (with data), and implement a solution that improves the company’s ability to generate revenue without alienating anyone.
- 5. Technical: One of the major drivers behind the rise of Sales Ops is advancements in sales and marketing technology widely available to businesses. For some companies, Sales Operations exists purely to act as an administrative group for sales tools.
Regardless of how much of your day-to-day work is spent managing and improving sales tools, you will be called upon to evaluate, implement, and troubleshoot various technologies at some point.
Who Has These 5 Traits?
Now that you know the 5 traits that are common among Sales Ops All Stars, the natural follow up question is where do these people come from? The short answer is all over the place — as the field has evolved, it’s grown to encompass some responsibilities that stretch across finance, marketing, and sales.
That means there’s no set career path for Sales Operations — professionals with a wide variety of experience can become All Star Sales Ops pros. A few examples are:
- Very technical, process-driven sales reps
- Customer support reps
- Marketing operations/Marketing analysts
- Financial analysts
The 5 traits of Sales Ops All-Stars are much more important for success in the field than any specific role is. So, if you have all five traits and are looking for a switch into a challenging, in-demand field that’s on course to become even more crucial to businesses in the future, consider looking into Sales Ops positions.