So, what is the role of a sales ops?

This may seem like a straightforward question, but it is not. You most likely will get one answer from one company, while getting a very different one from another. In reality the job function of sales ops is loosely defined, and is really dictated by the needs and goals of individual companies, and more specifically by the sales leaders.

Sales Ops Needs to Take a Step Back

Sales operation teams are often asked to distinguish a company’s KPIs, CRM integration and other platforms, reporting and forecasting, development of business insights, and finally lead (and overall pipeline) management. The list goes on and on.

With all these different roles seemingly multiplying like rabbits, it is necessary to step back and focus on the main objective of sales ops: to equip sales reps with the resources and processes necessary to be more productive, the most important resource being time.

At the end of the day, ops needs to make sure all tasks they perform feed into this directive, no matter the tactical items thrown on their door step. This may involve saying no, or reevaluating time consuming tasks; whatever has to be done to equip reps with the time needed to do what they are best at (and paid for), selling.

The Key Resource is Specialization

Ever since Adam Smith (the originator of free market theory), it has been generally accepted that it is much more effective to specialize than it is to be well rounded. The theory goes: specialization allows workers to take advantage of their comparative advantage and, if others specialize as well, increase efficiency. You know, the pin factory metaphor.

This is the mission of sales ops. To equip the sales teams with the most valuable resource (time) that they will need to specialize in their comparative advantage (selling). In tune with sales enablement, they must always focus on supporting reps by removing time wasting inefficiencies and providing necessary resources.

Below are key functions of ops that all derive and focus on the need to maximize the time spent selling. These functions need to be fundamental to every sales ops manager.

Where Ops can buy time

  1. Get Sales and Marketing on the Same Page
    The age old misalignment between sales and marketing is always a major problem. Enabling (or forcing if necessary) communication between the two is necessary for effective business processes. Sales ops must invest in technology that helps foster the spread of information and content to the necessary place.

    For example, contract lifecycle management solutions are very effective in improving efficiency by cutting down on negotiation time, while at the same time keeping the user protected. Sales will save loads of time by eliminating the need to search and, in some instances, create necessary contact.

  2. Place valuable and targeted content at sales’ fingertips
    One of the most time consuming tasks in sales is finding relevant content that can be given to prospects, especially now that personalization is a premium. This content is the workhouse of sales and something that reps cannot go without. This is where sales ops can make a huge difference.

    They have a very important role in the organization of content, so that reps do not have to spend countless hours searching through the vast online (or offline) file cabinets. Ops must maintain a database to hold all essential and up to data documents in a central location. While sales enablement facilitates content creation, ops must provide the system that makes the content accessible.

  3. Ensure proper qualification of leads
    It is up to sales ops to create an effective lead qualification process. This is one of the most important, as poorly qualified leads can be the biggest waste of time for sales reps.

    It is up to ops to foster a process that gives more weight to quality, not quantity, of leads entering the pipeline. If quality leads are the only ones that make it through, reps can focus more energy on prospects that are more likely to buy rather than running down the rabbit hole of empty leads.

  4. Maintain the quality and accuracy of CRM and other systems
    Another major time waster is inaccurate or missing data from CRM and other systems. Not only must ops provide the best systems that facilitate customer relationships through things like pricing and contracting support, but they must ensure that the data provided is accurate.

    Another useful tool is CPQ (Quote-to-Cash), which reduces time wasted through automation of the quoting process. This does not just mean regularly combing for errors, but also forcing (or increasing) compliance by sales teams.

Overall, it is necessary for sales ops, and other departments around a company, to regularly take a step back and get a broader view of what they are tasked to achieve. This will prevent them from undertaking chores that are at odds with their overall mandate, or from getting “stuck in the weeds.”

More than anything else, sales ops was created to eliminate wasted time and inefficiency through responsibilities that need to be fundamental to every sales manager. That need may come at the expense of other goals that they have been tasked to achieve.



Today’s article is a guest post by Patrick Wolf of Apttus.