Is_Your_Sales_Operations_Department_the_Island_of_Misfit_ToysOne Sales Ops leader recently referred to his department as “the island of misfit toys.” Don’t become a dumping ground of unwanted responsibilities. Take a proactive approach and design a sales operations department with a clear purpose.


Where to begin?


Let the sales strategy inform your organizational design.

What if your company lacks a sales strategy? You’re not alone. SBI research has found that 78% of companies don’t have an effective sales strategy. And 39% of companies don’t have a sales strategy at all. Sales operations can be a catalyst to resolve this important gap. The sales operations team sits at the intersection of several important business functions. Assemble a cross functional team and begin articulating a sales strategy. In the absence of a top-down approach, this bottoms-up method can start the process.


Download our research report for a step by step process on how to develop an effective sales strategy.


A thorough sales strategy will articulate the goals and objectives for the overall organization. This will make clear what the imperatives are for sales operations. Aligning sales operations with the intended outcomes of the overall sales organization is fundamental. But many companies miss this important step. They continue to do what they’ve always done. They miss the opportunity to focus on what’s important and improve overall effectiveness.


Develop a charter.

A charter is a statement of the vision, scope, objectives, and participants for a project or organization. Building a clear sales operations charter will focus the organization around what matters most. It concisely describes the team’s mission, purpose, scope of operations, objectives, and intended outcomes. Knowing what to prioritize and what you should ignore is a key to success. Having a charter for sales operations will help you avoid taking on distracting responsibilities. For more information about constructing a sales operations charter click here.


Align functions to the sales strategy.

Since sales operations is relatively new there isn’t a de-facto standard for what functions it contains. Sales operations should reflect the broader sales organization and go to market strategy. For example, what is the primary sales channel?  An inside sales team will have different requirements than a field sales team. A sales model that relies on channel partners will differ from a direct model. A combination of all of these means that sales operations needs to satisfy several audiences.


Here are eight functional areas that best-in-class sales operations departments share:


  1. Reporting and analytics: implement reporting and analytics frameworks that provide actionable insights to constituents.
  2. CRM design: specify and manage CRM systems to automate sales processes.
  3. Forecast management: define KPIs to focus on and manage an efficient process/cadence to drive accurate results.
  4. Sales tools and enablement: deliver job aids and content aligned to buyer personas that advances the selling process. Better enable inside, field, and channel resources.
  5. Sales process definition: work cross functionally to create an efficient and effective sales process.
  6. RFP & proposal management: streamline internal processes and/or offload processes from the sales team.
  7. Pricing: develop a pricing process that closes more sales while meeting profit objectives.
  8. Contracts: streamline the contracting process to help close more sales without exposing us to unnecessary risk.


What does next year have in store for your sales operations department? Have you defined the right roles and functions? Is your team aligned with the overall sales strategy? Is your team a mashup of functions casted off from other departments? Don’t struggle through another year with a poorly designed sales operations department.


Sign up for our 90-minute workshop. It’s a no-expense, no-obligation strategy session with one of our experts. They’ll walk you through the process to define an effective sales operations department.


Eric Bauer

Drives business growth through brand strategy, sales and marketing alignment and marketing effectiveness.

As a global marketing leader, Eric helps clients identify and implement strategies that result in sustained growth. He works closely with marketing and sales teams to help clients align go-to-market strategies and navigate the complex, multifaceted issues that affect branding, demand generation, and lead qualification. He oversees projects that help clients optimize their marketing resources and deliver measurable return on investment. He counsels clients on emerging trends in marketing automation, content marketing, demand generation, marketing operations, sales and marketing alignment, and lead management.


Eric is the author of many marketing and sales related articles. His recent experience includes developing a scalable campaign development process for a software company. Eric identified gaps in their existing process and created a standardized, repeatable process that addresses all aspects of demand generation, lead nurturing, and result reporting. He also helped a global petro-chemical company optimize their marketing and branding efforts to identify and recruit top site operators and retail locations for their products and services.

Read full bio >