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What Is Sales Operations?

Aug 22, 2023
3 min read

Sales operations is an important part of managing a Sales team, as it helps Sales teams achieve their goals and supports the growth of the business. But what is sales operations, and how does it help your team achieve its goal?

Put simply, sales operations is a broad idea that refers to the team and processes used to drive improvements in the operational sales process. The Sales Operations team isn't usually out on the frontline selling, nor are they the direct managers of those salespeople. Rather, they're working behind the scenes to provide the tools and processes salespeople use every day.

Why Businesses Need Sales Operations

Sales Operations teams support sales managers by providing them with the tools they need to run their teams. They create the infrastructure that gives sales managers more time to focus on their day-to-day jobs. According to a recent report by Forbes, Sales Operations teams are unlikely to see their budgets increase in 2023. This could be a shortsighted approach, given that a well-run Sales Operations team can bring several benefits to an organization, including:

Sales and operations planning is particularly important for growing companies where there may be multiple Sales teams or territories to manage. As a business grows, it becomes harder for the sales managers to oversee everything in their department. Having a dedicated Sales Operations team means the team can focus on technology, analytics, and processes while the managers lead the individuals on their team.

Important Sales Operations KPIs

There are many sales operations metrics that a team might track as it works to streamline the sales process in a business. These KPIs include:

  1. Average sales cycle length: How long it typically takes to convert a lead into a customer
  2. Win rate: How many conversions you achieve compared to the size of your lead pool
  3. Customer acquisition cost: How much is spent, on average, to gain a new customer
  4. Customer lifetime value: How much each new customer spends with the brand over their lifetime
  5. Lead to opportunity ratio: The percentage of leads that turn out to be likely conversion opportunities

The above are just a few examples of metrics a Sales Operations team might focus on. Which metrics are the most important may vary from business to business. For example, a company selling luxury items may be willing to spend more to earn each conversion, while a company focused on fast-moving consumer goods might invest less time per conversion but cast its net wider when it comes to Marketing, knowing it has a larger pool of prospective customers to choose from.

These KPIs can be used by the Sales Operations team to plan future marketing campaigns and to divide up territories and set incentives for sales staff.

The Role of the Sales Operations Team

The Sales Operations team supports the frontline sales staff in a few key areas:

  • Strategy
  • Technology
  • Operations
  • Performance

The Sales Operations team will define a high-level strategy for the Sales department, and is responsible for sales territories, analytics, sales forecasting, setting realistic goals, and the technologies used. 

The chosen strategy feeds into the technology decisions made by the team. There's a bewildering array of CRM tools, process automation software, and marketing software available today. A Sales Operations Manager works with a Sales Operations Analyst to evaluate these tools, make technology decisions, and ensure all the tools used by the team integrate as well as possible.

Sales Operations Managers are also responsible for training, hiring and onboarding, as well as other day-to-day tasks. A team of Sales Operations Analysts monitor service levels and other sales operations metrics and provide feedback to the Sales Operations Manager to give to the wider Sales team.

The information gathered by Sales & Operations is then used to drive performance improvements. The team recommends changes to processes, evaluates KPIs and other performance metrics, and uses those to devise new incentives. They also look at the quality of leads available to the Sales team and consider how best to turn leads into customers.

Invest in Your Sales Operations Team

If your sales managers are currently wearing multiple hats, or you have multiple teams and communication between them isn't as efficient as it could be, investing in sales and operation planning could be the answer. A strong Sales and Operation planning team, equipped with the right tools for analytics and forecasting, can help you manage your sales territories more efficiently, improve morale among sales staff, and boost sales performance.

Set your business on the path to growth by arming your Sales Operations team with Xactly's powerful sales tools. Understand more benefits of capitalizing on sales operations with our blog on sales and operations planning.

  • Sales Performance Management
  • Sales Planning
  • Territory Management
Kelly Arellano, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Xactly
Xactly News Team

Led by Editor-In-Chief, Kelly Arellano, The Xactly News Team reports on the latest products, events, and market trends taking place within Xactly and throughout the revenue intelligence industry.