The role of sales operations can often become corrupted. Many times the role is not defined and clear expectations are not set. SBI recently spoke with Dave Howard about this pressing issue. Dave is the senior vice president of sales operations at FIS, a global leader in banking and payment solutions. He is qualified to help other sales ops leaders as he has over 15 years’ experience in the field. And it’s a topic he’s very passionate about.
“There is a danger for all of us who work in this discipline,” explains Dave. Often the sales ops team is very knowledgeable about their company. But it’s very important to have a definition of success, and stick to it. How should the sales ops team apply their resources in order help hit the revenue goal? Otherwise, it’s easy to become distracted and overwhelmed, resulting in wasted resources and frustration.
So, how does Dave define the objectives for his team? “We’ve got primary objectives that, for us, are very strongly aligned with the business priorities of the segments we’re serving,” claims Howard. These objectives serve a critical function, and must support the company’s overarching goals. In FIS’ case, the objectives important to them are revenue growth, client retention and ease of operations. Everything the sales ops team does ties back to these three goals. This sales planning helps the team maintain alignment with the rest of the organization. They are able to successfully support the execution of the company’s sales strategy.
At FIS, the sales operations team is responsible for the training and professional development of the sales team. This includes comp plan creation, helping sales teams find opportunities and operational reporting and analytics.
When it comes to analytics, too often companies have a massive amount of data, but continue to struggle to provide insightful information. Dave recommends first establishing a unique identifier of your data. This parent-child hierarchy will better allow sales ops teams to produce meaningful insights for sales leaders.
Dave also recommends evaluating your dashboards to ensure they are enabling effective decision-making. At FIS, they have evolved to a digital, interactive, real-time dashboard. Reps can access it directly from the field. How has this impacted the organization? It allows the team to move faster and quickly drill down to the answers.
Putting it All Together
So, what advice would Dave give other sales ops leaders? He boiled it down quite simply. Challenge inertia. Are the activities you’re performing providing value? Or are you checking them off of your to-do list because that’s how it’s always been? What was critical 2 or 3 years ago, may no longer be beneficial. It may be constraining you from delivering greater benefits in other areas.
At the end of the day, the sales team cannot be successful without a well thought out and executed sales ops strategy. And it starts by gaining agreement on the objectives of the department. Sales ops leaders must eliminate the noise and reacting to the idea of the moment. Instead, establish objectives, and then build and execute your strategy. The result will be a more efficient and effective sales team.