People who work at small businesses always talk about wearing a lot of hats. The CEO splits his time to lead the sales team, the VP of Operations doubles as the CFO, and the CPO is left to try to figure out that whole marketing thing.
Wearing different hats is both the most frustrating and most rewarding part of working at an SMB — you have the freedom to experiment and make an impact in a lot of different areas… But that also means you shoulder more responsibility than any human being can reasonably be expected to manage over the long haul.
With everyone trying to juggle that many duties, it’s natural to think that Sales Operations is the last thing your company needs to be dealing with. In the earliest stages of getting your business off the ground, that’s actually the right perspective to take — Sales Operations will not help you establish a product-market fit or raise early rounds of funding.
However, what you can do by dedicating resources to Sales Operations is eliminate major growing pains once you hit a point where you are ready to scale. The earlier you begin thinking about how to structure and scale your sales process, the greater its impact will be on your sales results.
Before we go any further on that point, let’s take a step back and consider for a moment what “Sales Operations” really means.
Defining “Sales Operations”
Sales Operations is one of those terms that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
This is because the very nature of the role is to be flexible and take on responsibilities that aren’t part of anyone else’s job description. Sales Ops doesn’t fall neatly into our preconceived notions of what business departments should look like.
If you do a quick Google search for “sales operations definition,” what you get are bullet lists of the administrative duties that a Sales Operations department typically fulfills. However, all of this can be boiled down to a single sentence:
Sales Operations is the practice of making revenue growth as efficient as possible.
Traditionally, only large companies with bulky sales teams could afford to invest money directly into optimizing their sales efficiency, but that is no longer the case.
The advent of Sales 2.0, the rise of cloud based technology, and the subsequent improvement in sales technology available to small and medium sized businesses have made Sales Operations an indispensable asset for companies of all sizes.
How SMBs benefit from Sales Operations
The theory of every sales expert in the business emphasizes the importance of increasing efficiency. Whether you tackle that goal by measuring results more accurately, managing more effectively, or prospecting more efficiently, the key to sustainable revenue growth is earning more while spending less.
Sales 2.0 has had the same effect on sales teams that Six Sigma principles had on the world of manufacturing, and the same effect that Moneyball had on the MLB: efficiency is now a competitive advantage.
This is the main reason that small businesses need to dedicate resources to a sales operations role. Whether it’s one of the many hats an executive has to wear or a dedicated resource is hired, someone must focus time on streamlining sales processes and growing efficiently if you want your company to grow at all.
The reason SMBs have difficulty scaling is that no one approaches sales growth from an operational perspective — it’s always a mad dash to hire reps and churn out deals, and details like sales process and enablement get the “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” treatment.
Unless these problems are addressed early on in your company’s growth, the cracks quickly widen, and ultimately turn into severe problems that inhibit your company’s long-term growth.
You only benefit from a philosophy of efficient, cost-effective selling if you adopt it early on in your company’s development. Dedicating resources to Sales Operations early on ensures that your company won’t be slowed down by poor sales results as you grow.