The director of sales operations position is one of the most critical hires a company can make.
Their work has an enormous influence on business decisions. It’s their job to help sales executives make sense of results and pinpoint the reasons why they fell short of or hit their goals. When things go south, pressure is on the directors of sales operations to uncover shortcomings and solve for the future.
Besides taking care of their own work, sales operations directors have to manage the entire sales ops team to ensure day-to-day tasks get accomplished. The sales operations team is constantly trying to systemize sales processes to increase the sales team’s efficiency and effectiveness, and it’s the director who’s at the helm leading the charge.
What are Directors of Sales Operations Responsible for?
Directors of sales operations have no shortage of responsibilities.
As the right-hand to sales leadership, they’re counted on to find answers to the hard questions. Sales leaders are constantly thinking about how revenue can be increased, and sales operations directors know best where there are opportunities for improvement on the sales team.
They’re the ones primarily responsible for the complex reporting and analysis involved in sales forecasting and planning for the road ahead. Sales leaders depend on their guidance in order to reach monthly, quarterly, and yearly revenue goals.
That means they need to develop key performance metrics to measure the activities that have the most significant impact on sales productivity, pull the necessary reports to track those KPIs over time, and compile dashboards that sales leaders can use to keep tabs on their team. When challenging problems arise, heads of sales look to directors of sales operations to advise them in the decision-making process to solve complicated issues.
They’re continuously working to optimize the sales process, recognize trends in data, refine operational models, and put out fires as they arise. Periodically, they need to redefine sales territories, collaborate with finance on sales compensation plans, and develop policies to ensure data quality. As owners of the sales tech stack, sales operations directors are always evaluating new sales technology vendors and managing the CRM (typically Salesforce.com) infrastructure.
On top of all that, sales ops directors usually manage a team of sales operations professionals and are responsible for prioritizing tasks to make sure deadlines are hit.
What Skills Should Directors of Sales Operations Possess?
Deep expertise on sales automation and CRM systems is mandatory for sales ops directors. Most often, this means knowing the ins and outs of Salesforce.com. Understanding how systems work is required to dig into operational issues and answer tough questions.
Directors of sales operations are not only analytical, but they can translate a hodgepodge of numbers into actionable deliverables and presentations. Much of their analytical work is done in Excel or business intelligence tools. They need to be confident in themselves and comfortable presenting their findings to the executive team and board of directors.
When evaluating software, sales ops directors often play the “bad cop” – they are purposefully pessimistic as a negotiation tactic to bring the cost down. As they’re being sold to, they focus on their concerns and alternative solutions to persuade whoever is selling them to adjust pricing and offer more favorable contract terms.
Directors of sales operations are not just analytical gurus — they have business acumen, can work a room, manage a team, and solve complex problems.
How Much Experience Should Directors of Sales Operations Have?
Directors of sales operations should have 7-10 years of relevant business experience, preferably in sales.
While an MBA typically isn’t required for this role, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Any leadership roles, especially managing a sales team, makes candidates more appealing. Demonstrated experience improving sales productivity and results is critical.