There’s no denying the growing strategic importance of sales and operations (S&OP) in driving successful revenue growth — LinkedIn reports that an overwhelming 90% of S&OP professionals say it has better positioned their company to succeed.
Because sales and operations streamlines the many moving parts of a modern sales process — technology tools, data analytics, marketing and sales workflows, and the like — into a cohesive, informed, results-driven strategy.
Doing this successfully requires a well-structured team with clearly defined sales operations roles and responsibilities. In this guide, we’ll explore what those teams look like at organizations with strong S&OP strategies in place.
- What sales and operations teams actually do
- Common S&OP roles and their areas of responsibility
- Why each role is important
- The criticality of prioritizing S&OP for revenue growth
- The primary goal of sales and operations is to create predictable sales revenue streams.
- Important areas of focus for S&OP teams include data analytics, sales planning, process optimization, and performance reporting.
- S&OP leaders typically have the title of VP or Director of Sales and Operations.
- Sales and Operations Managers bridge the gap between executive leadership and employee teams.
- Key S&OP support roles include Sales and Operations Analyst and Coordinator.
- While not formally on the S&OP team, marketing and sales teams are key collaborators in building a successful strategy.
What does sales and operations do?
We know that sales and operations is a critical support function for sales teams — but what do S&OP teams actually do on a daily basis?
At the highest level, S&OP works to create predictable, optimized sales revenue streams using data, automation, and other sales best practices. While sales reps and managers focus on actual selling, S&OP teams see the sales process holistically, working to continually improve it to drive company growth and maximize sales ROI.
Key areas of focus that S&OP teams prioritize daily to achieve this goal include:
- Data analytics - Analyzing data for insights that can inform strategy
- Sales planning and goal setting - Identifying sales objectives and setting the right strategies to achieve them
- Process optimization - Driving efficiency with technology tools and best practices
- Sales coverage and territory management - Allocating resources strategically to maximize revenue opportunities
- Training and enablement - Equipping sales reps with the right tools and knowledge to succeed
- Benchmarking and performance reporting - Monitoring sales progress and adjusting strategies as needed
Sales Operations Roles and Responsibilities
The structure of an S&OP team depends on the company. Large enterprises often hire entire sales and operations teams while mid-sized or smaller companies may hire a single S&OP leader who is supported by roles in other areas like operations, finance, marketing, and sales.
Both approaches can work as long as S&OP is prioritized as a separate and important function. The roles and responsibilities outlined below are some of the most common and critical ones to include on your S&OP team no matter what approach you take to structuring it.
Vice President or Director of Sales and Operations
Your sales and operations function needs a designated leader — someone whose sole focus is on overseeing S&OP so that it drives predictable revenue growth. Without a champion, S&OP is easily lost amidst other functions and can fail to maintain a separate identity.
This leader usually comes with the title of VP or Director of Sales and Operations. They partner directly with other executive leaders (like the CEO and Chief Revenue Officer) to build high-level strategies and set overarching sales goals.
S&OP leaders provide oversight at a strategic level by directing sales and operations managers, reviewing performance reports, and accounting for every internal and external factors that can impact the sales team’s ability to meet their targets.
Sales and Operations Manager
While the VP or Director of Sales and Operations provides strategic oversight, S&OP managers oversee day-to-day execution of that strategy. They interact directly with sales and operations staff to optimize daily priorities and performance, evaluate sales tools and processes, and look for ways to continually improve.
S&OP managers bridge the gap between employees doing the actual execution work and the executive leaders providing strategic direction. They see S&OP from the ground level while also understanding the higher level goals to ultimately be achieved.
Sales and Operations Analyst
Sales and operations analysts analyze data across relevant functions to uncover insights that inform strategy. They’re experienced with data analytics, know how to mine large datasets and perform data modeling, and are capable with analytics software tools.
Analysts are critical to S&OP because they provide the information used to make decisions, report to executive leadership, and set sales forecasts and goals.
Sales and Operations Coordinator
Sales and operations coordinator is typically an entry-level support role. They support other S&OP roles with tasks like entering data, preparing reports, and organizing meetings. They’re an essential part of keeping the S&OP engine running day to day.
Marketing and Sales Teams
While not directly structured under S&OP, marketing and sales teams play an important role in providing information and context. They interact directly with potential customers and execute the best practices set in place by S&OP leaders.
Feedback from marketing and sales and their collaboration with S&OP makes for both a more informed strategy and seamless execution.
Why Sales Ops Matters
Executing the sales process is a more complex undertaking than it’s ever been in the past. The technology and data that exists today has accelerated the sales process and leveled up customer expectations — companies are expected to pinpoint buyer needs, meet them where they are in their online research, and optimize the experience at every turn.
With a dedicated support function like S&OP powering sales strategy with smart insight and a wider perspective, companies are better able to:
- Set the right sales goals — and reach them
- Operate with a data-driven mindset
- Streamline processes for greater efficiency
- Capitalize on opportunities
- Identify and prepare for challenges
- Achieve predictable revenue
How Xactly’s Intelligent Revenue Platform can Help
Xactly’s Intelligent Revenue platform supports sales and operations teams with precise plans and data-informed insights to help them consistently achieve their goals.