Salespeople are great at selling. They’re less great at all the things that surround the sales process — things like filling out spreadsheets, hunting down pricing and contract information, and figuring out how to use complex tools. Even the sellers who are great at these tasks are more useful to their organizations in the field or on the phone.
Sales operations teams handle the busywork of selling and free their salespeople to do what they do best. If the sales team is the boat, the sales ops team is the sail that guides the boat toward its destination.
For companies with long sales cycles, such as B2B and SaaS businesses, sales ops is an essential part of any long-term growth strategy. HubSpot’s research consistently shows that salespeople struggle to find prospects and qualify leads. The more time salespeople spend fumbling around, the less time they have to bring in revenue.
Rather than waste salespeople’s time, consider the following ways a sales operations team can help:
In an age where people can learn anything they need to know on their mobile phones, experience is everything. Walker found that customer experience will overtake price as the biggest competitive differentiator by 2020. People know they can get things cheaper elsewhere, but they don’t want cheap — they want better.
When every company interaction is consistent, customers are more likely to contribute to word-of-mouth marketing and more likely to listen to future upsells. For example, Gong.io, which uses AI to help B2B sales teams analyze and improve their communication, needed a customer engagement and workflow automation tool to align sales and customer success. Gong went with MixMax to streamline its account management and found that among the enhancements to email tracking, calendar tools, and to-do lists came other improvements. “Since implementing Mixmax, our open rates are 86%, our reply rates are 52%, and our RSVP rates are 41%,” said Jameson Yung, VP of Sales at Gong.
Great salespeople know how to follow up after closing to keep customers happy. As companies scale, however, those personal relationships become harder to manage. With sales operations, companies can create processes that ensure no client ever feels neglected after the sale.
After the salesperson closes the deal, the sales ops team steps in to ensure that details like contracts, delivery dates, and other important factors don’t fall through the cracks. Salespeople get to maintain relationships with prospects, while sales operations teams ensure that clients have fewer complaints.
Frontline reps are not the only ones who benefit from the presence of sales ops. Department leaders and executives can lean on sales ops to help forecast future sales and spot opportunities for easy wins.
RAIN Group, a sales training company, points out that elite sales companies are much better at forecasting than their average peers. The further into the future the company sees, the better able it becomes to adjust on the fly.
Within the company, sales ops teams also help onboard new sales hires to get them up to speed. Glassdoor reports that new hires take around eight months on average to reach average productivity. For salespeople, who are responsible for big chunks of revenue, that’s a long time to wait.
New hires can lean on sales ops for training on products, strategies, territories, and everything else they need to hit the ground running. Sales ops teams can also teach fresh faces how to get the most from their CRMs so they can spend more time honing their people skills and less time struggling in front of computers.
More relevant incentives
Nothing motivates salespeople like fatter paychecks. Sales operations teams help executives implement smarter compensation structures that keep salespeople pushing hard — without burning them out in the process.
All the information companies need to create better sales strategies exists within the data they already have. Sales operations teams interpret that data into actionable insights, empowering businesses to create incentive structures that reward superstars and keep teams focused.
Sales operations is a hot topic right now for a reason. The companies that invest in sales ops today will be better prepared for the needs of tomorrow’s employees and customers. Rather than wait for competitors to make the first move, business owners and sales leaders should implement sales operations as soon as possible to spur faster, more sustainable growth.