Leading Sales Operations is an extremely challenging role. It requires a blend of strategic thinking, process improvement, data analytics, and sales acumen.


Consider the rapid evolution of Sales Operations, barely a recognized discipline 25 years ago. What was cutting edge five years ago is standard operating procedure (SOP) today. Sitting on standard operating procedures will place you at a disadvantage as competitors leapfrog you.


How can you determine if your best contributions are really cutting edge or simply SOP?


World-class Sales Operations groups are focused on:


  • Improved Sales Efficiency / Doing things right – Sales efficiency is about reducing costs to deliver a unit of revenue or margin. Cost per sales head is a measure most often related to sales efficiency.


  • Increased Sales Effectiveness / Doing the right things – Sales effectiveness is focused on improving outcomes such as revenue per sales head, average selling price and win rate.


  • Remove Bottlenecks /Leverage technology.  Improve Quote-to-cash processes, automate performance reporting and streamline CRM inputs are examples.


  • Strategic Insight / Direction – This involves data analytics, your knowledge of the marketplace and the sales process to drive insight. This can  be most challenging for Sales Ops leaders but is essential for success.


So, with rapid changes and a lofty charter, how can you tell if you’re leading the way?  There are some practical, day-to-day ways to do this.  Start by continuously upgrading your network by connecting with advanced Sales Ops leaders.  Follow relevant groups on LinkedIn and get engaged in the discussions.  Seek out content that breaks away from standard procedures.


In addition to the above recommendations, SBI’s 11th Annual How to Make Your Number in 2018 will give you a fast start.  With it, you’ll know which questions need to be answered to evaluate your progress.  The workbook will enable you to see if your approach is simply “me too” or emerging best practices.


Standard Procedures – these questions will help you understand if you have the minimum requirements for success in place.


  • Can you easily describe your Forecasting management process? How do you ensure your forecast is accurate?  What has been your historical forecast accuracy?


  • Can you describe your sales process? Are the steps in your sales process based upon observable customer behaviors?


  • Do you use buyer Personas? Does your sales team understand and use your key buyer personas?  Are they integrated into your Sales process?


  • Can you describe the system architecture that supports your Sales Ops team? How does that architecture support executive reporting requirements?


  • What is your sales on-boarding process? Do you have a sales academy? Do you train reps to use cases and battle cards? Describe the professional skills development programs in place today.


  • Do you have an account planning process? Does the process include Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR’s)?


Best Practices – answering these questions will allow you to determine if you’ve evolved past SOP to best practice.


  • Can you describe your pipeline management process? Do you know average selling prices by product / service and segment? What are your conversion rates by sales stage?


  • Do you have a formal deal desk? Are deal reviews consistently applied by sales management with front-line reps?


  • What is the process for setting sales quotas? What is your compensation planning process? Are your sales compensation plans aligned with corporate strategy?


  • What are the top strategic focus areas for the sales ops team? What are the business outcomes sales ops needs to deliver upon?


  • What is revenue per head by sales group? What is the average time to productivity for new hires? What is the average length of time from opportunity creation to close?


Emerging Best Practices – these questions, when capably and confidently answered, are strong indicators you’re on the leading edge.


  • Describe your territory design process and how it positively impacts sales results?


  • Are quotas determined based upon territory performance, available opportunity or both?


  • What is the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Lifetime Value (LTV) of your customers?


  • What are your working relationships with executive, sales, and product leadership?


  • What is your sales analytics strategy – both diagnostic and predictive?


  • What is your churn rate? What are signs that a customer may defect?


  • How are you using technology to improve sales results for your company?


These are only a sampling of the things you should ask yourself and your team.  Knowing the answers or striving to get them will put you on the right path. Continuously re-evaluate what your team does and how it delivers results. For more information on our 2018 Make Your Number Workbook, Click Here.


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