Measure Twice, Cut Once: Sales Operations Functions

Emma Fulcher
Emma Fulcher
In Sales Comp, Trending
Emma Fulcher is the Social Media Manager and Content Writer at Xactly. She attended San Jose State University where she received her degree in English.

Sales Operations is a vital role that serves to elevate an organization from a reactive state to a proactive position. Sales Ops opens all sorts of new avenues for growth and inspiration within your company, and without a Sales Ops team dedicated to investigating the data and utilizing all available analytical tools, you are going to be hard-pressed to achieve any real growth or positive success.

Here’s the deal with Sales Operations: this dynamic role fulfills many critical functions, and to succeed in Sales Operations Management, you need to know what each team member’s tactical and strategic role is, and how best to help them leverage their assets and abilities to the advantage of your company at large. Obviously each team will be unique, but here are some commonalities we found when it comes to sales operations functions:

Sales Operations Functions


On the one hand, Sales Ops is Supportive – they provide empirical, analytical insight to your teams on the ground, helping them to operate at peak performance power. When sales reps head into a meeting with a prospect, they’re going to look to Sales Operations for buying patterns and prospect histories. As with most elements of the Sales Ops role, it’s going to come down to the data that your team is monitoring and curating, and they’re going to need access to tools and data that are quick, user-friendly, and valuable to your reps.

Sales Ops is well known for their data focus, and the strategic role inherent in this relationship between Ops and data. But you may be surprised to learn about the interdepartmental mediation role that Sales Operations can fill, and the important impact it can have on your company.

Go to Market

Marketing is the home of all customer facing content – the front-line of lead generation and personal interaction. Through marketing efforts, leads are drawn into the pipeline, to be qualified and converted, and hopefully transitioned into closed deals. There is a whole glut of valuable information to be tracked here, and building a solid relationship with this department will allow quick and easy access to this data.

Marketing and design also have the responsibility of creating the vital collateral that helps Sales capitalize on every meeting. By interfacing between Marketing and Sales, you can curate a whole stable of quality content – tailored to the needs of your Sales teams and geared towards the interests of the prospects. Sharing this information between the two departments allows you to increase speed, accuracy, and the value of data driven content. Your intermediary position is key with this relationship.

Band of Brothers

Sales and Finance are a family – the whole organization is. But as with any family, siblings are bound to bicker, and Sales and Finance are notorious for their combativeness. But this doesn’t have to be the case, and by tracking the right metrics and data streams, Sales Ops can be the glue that holds these two parties together. The inherent issues remain: Sales wants to push their commission plans and prospecting spend to the limit to achieve stellar results, while Finance wants to protect the business, keep revenue in a solid, profitable place, and understand the risk management strategies in every maneuver. This has put the two departments at odds for a long time, but it’s time to rewrite history.

A customized incentive compensation solution can calculate commissions quickly and accurately with just a few clicks, ensuring that Finance is aware of the incoming payouts months before a surprising end of quarter bump. Modeling and analytical forecasting allows your Sales Ops team to take clean, empirical data and leverage it to guide Sales and assure Finance. With accurate, on-time incentive compensation accruals, Finance will be happy, plus Sales will feel supported with inspired comp plans.

Objective Behavior

The buck stops with Sales Ops when it comes to paying people their correct incentives, commissions, and bonuses. This was not always an easy task to tackle as older, manual systems made it nigh impossible to pay people in an accurate or timely manner. As you can imagine, this led to some issues, namely between Sales and Sales Ops, who must be working together – always.

The struggle came from managing too many spreadsheet-based comp plans, leading invariably to human errors on the front end, and vast delays on the back end. Not only did this hurt successful sales reps that were relying on their commission checks to arrive in a timely manner, it also actively dis-incentivized them from performing in a way that supported corporate objectives or goals, instead of reinforcing desired behaviors and best practices.

This kind of system is ultimately detrimental to any business looking to grow, expand, and inspire performance, and it’s where the strategic nature of Sales Operations comes into play. By designing incentive compensation plans that are scalable, engaging, and game-able (in a good way! Just ask our CEO Chris Cabrera), you can push your Sales team to succeed, compensate them in a fair and timely manner, and create best practice behavioral loops that push your company towards success.

All this work takes careful consideration and management, and requires access to the kinds of best practice tools and insights that elevate the industry and make lives easier in the process. A Sales Ops team is successful when it follows the data, monitors it closely, curates it properly, and leverages it valuably. In this sense, it pays to follow the adage: Measure Twice, Cut Once.


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Measure Twice, Cut Once: Sales Operations Functions