Sales operations managers play a crucial role in making sure sales teams are firing on all cylinders.
They tackle much of the heavy lifting in Salesforce.com (or other CRM systems) and continuously optimize processes to make lives easier for sales reps and managers, giving them more time to focus on what they do best – sell.
While there’s less glory for sales ops managers than sales reps (who get to close big deals and hit gongs to celebrate), they are one of the most vital parts of any successful sales team.
What are Sales Operations Managers Responsible for?
Sales operations managers always have a lot on their plate.
As the main point of contact for the sales operations team, they’re the first to know when things go wrong. Salespeople rely on them to keep everything up and running. It’s on them to make things just work.
Sales ops managers proactively identify bottlenecks in the sales process and find ways to reduce them to make the sales machine go faster. Ultimately, their job is to increase sales productivity by simplifying processes and implementing sales automation tools, like email prospecting, contract management, and content enablement software.
Beyond that, they’re responsible for creating and maintaining documentation on sales processes, assisting with on-boarding new sales reps, and optimizing lead qualification and scoring.
Sales ops managers own the end-to-end process of tracking the sales process and conversion rates throughout the sales funnel. Being so close to this data, they know best what needs to be adjusted in order to improve sales performance down the funnel. The reports they build inform sales reps, managers, and leadership on historical results, current performance, and expected results in the future.
They work alongside sales operations directors (who they typically report to) to define quarterly objectives, standardize business reporting, and create dashboards for sales executives.
Some sales ops managers also manage a team of sales ops analysts. This involves prioritizing urgent tasks and major projects to make sure critical works gets accomplished, teaching analysts new skills to advance their capabilities, and running things up the ladder when necessary.
What Skills Should Sales Operations Managers Possess?
Sales operations managers need to be well-versed in Salesforce.com (or another CRM system), since that’s where much of the operational work is done.
If they’re familiar with any other platforms that may be in a hiring company’s sales tech stack, even better. However, most other sales tools can be learned on the fly. CRMs, especially Salesforce.com, take more time to learn, so companies hiring for sales operations pay close attention to how much CRM experience candidates have.
On top of their CRM skills, sales ops managers are analytical. They get a kick out of diving into complex datasets and gleaning insights to provide strategic recommendations. This means spending a lot of time using Excel, or, better yet, business intelligence software (like InsightSquared). The best sales ops managers optimize their time by using BI to expedite and standardize reporting so they can spend more time solving operational problems.
Not only are they analytical, but they have the communicative skills to share their findings with others. Often this means sending thorough emails citing data points and sales results, but also includes presenting to groups of people from time to time and persuading executives when they believe certain issues should be prioritized.
Collaboration with other departments is key in this role. Cross-functional projects are always taking place, most frequently with marketing, finance, and IT. Sales operations managers work closely with marketing on campaign execution and reporting, finance on deal desk and revenue recognition management, and IT on sales automation implementation and maintenance.
At the end of the day, sales operations managers are driven self-starters who can be trusted to do meaningful work while thinking about the bigger picture of how sales teams can function more efficiently and effectively.
How Much Experience Should Sales Operations Managers Have?
Sales operations managers should have around five years of relevant business experience, preferably in sales.
A college (bachelor’s) degree is typically required for this role. Any managerial experience, especially leading a sales development team, makes candidates more appealing. Experience managing sales automation and CRM systems is usually mandatory.