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CRM and Sales

Sales operations basics: what it means and tips for success

John Bogna 8 min read
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“Sales operations” sounds like an overly general term, and it does encompass a lot. But it’s more than the day-to-day goings-on of a sales team — sales ops is the hand that guides the ship.

A sales department can contain multiple teams with varied functions, all designed to support one another. Sales ops is charged with supporting the reps doing the day-to-day selling with strategic insights gained from analyzing data. In this blog, we’ll cover exactly what is included in sales operations, strategies for success, and how monday sales CRM can help.

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What is sales operations?

While person-to-person selling is the front-line sales team’s job, the sales operations team guides sales from a more strategic place.

In a nutshell, sales operations is about enabling frontline sales teams to work more efficiently and effectively by providing strategic assistance and cutting down on friction in the sales process.

In order to make sure that happens, the sales ops team handles:

  • Territory management
  • Training
  • Sales strategy
  • Lead generation
  • Tech management
  • Sales rep support

Basically, anything and everything that helps your sales team establish and maintain growth falls under the category of sales operations.

What’s the difference between sales and sales operations?

Sales teams work the front lines, moving prospective leads through the sales funnel and eventually making some of those people paying customers.

Sales ops teams are usually divided into a tactical support branch and a strategic design branch. One side might handle more technical elements like setting up your sales CRM software, while the other might focus on optimizing each stage of the sales funnel — one side is technical, the other more intangible.

What are the different roles in a sales operations team?

Between the two branches of any sales operations team, you’ll usually find the following roles:

  • Sales operations representative
  • Sales operations analyst
  • Manager of sales operations
  • Senior sales operations analyst
  • VP/Senior Director of sales operations

The functions and responsibilities of the people filling these roles can usually be divided into four large buckets:

  • Strategy: Defines high-level strategies and makes plans to reach sales goals. Example functions in this area can include sales methodology evaluation, data analysis, sales coverage planning, and territory planning.
  • Technology: Manages the sales team’s SaaS software stack so the sales team can focus on their main job: selling. Duties here can include adopting and customizing a CRM, data management, and task automation.
  • Operations: Focuses on training, hiring, and knowledge management so sales reps in the field have the best practices they need to perform well. Tasks in this area can include product and sales training, onboarding, and contract creation.
  • Performance: Tries to make sales rep performance as efficient as possible. Example responsibilities here would be lead management, implementing best practices, and identifying target sales metrics.

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Strategies for sales operations success

It’s the job of the sales ops team to innovate and help the front line step up their game. That’s a big job, but implementing established best practices can help break the process down into a manageable plan.

1. Create a mission statement

The sales ops team should start by defining their mission and purpose, and making sure that mission is in alignment with the sales team. Distributing that mission to the whole company will put everyone on the same page.

Avoid vague statements in favor of concrete ones that outline the “how” of achieving each goal. For example, one part of the mission statement might read, “Automate more operational tasks to free up time in the case queue.”

2. Foster collaboration

Consistent communication between sales ops and the sales, marketing, and sales enablement teams is crucial to keeping a sales operations team running smoothly. Not only does it keep everyone in the loop, it avoids repetitive work.

A good example of this practice in action would be a weekly meeting between the heads of every team to go over everything that’s happening. Sales moves quickly, so a lot of small changes can happen in a week and regular communication helps the entire company stay in alignment.

3. Establish a clear leadership structure

Someone high-level, say a director or vice president, should be appointed to lead the sales operations team. That person, in turn, should report to the company c-suite — the COO or CEO, for example. This establishes a clear leadership structure and chain of command.

4. Shadow sales team members

Having sales operations staff work closely with people on the sales team will give them first-hand experience with the day-to-day duties and challenges the sales team faces. They can then use that experience to better guide overall sales strategy, and the two teams can form a deeper connection.

5. Be smart about the tools you choose

Be selective and strategic about where to apply technology. Automation features, for example, can be a boon to the sales team by eliminating most or all of the repetitive manual tasks that take up a good chunk of their time.

A good rule of thumb when choosing technology for your business is whether it helps or gets in the way. Does it actually solve a problem or fill a need? If not, reconsider whether adopting a new app is worth the time and money you’ll invest in buying it and training your team to use it.

That said, be sure you don’t rely on tech so much that it gets in the way. One multi-functional tool is better than twenty that your team has to flip between and learn to use. CRM software like monday sales CRM is a great example of a useful software tool.

6. Stay innovative

The sales operations team should continually monitor what’s working and what can be improved. Don’t be afraid to adopt new technology or policies if they make sense and will improve the way the company works.

Just be sure to do it intelligently and at an appropriate pace — your sales team won’t get much done if they’re learning a new tool every week. It would make more sense, for example, to use a CRM with messaging and file-sharing features instead of using three separate programs to get the same result.

Manage your sales operations like a pro with monday sales CRM

Getting rid of redundant tasks, tracking performance, and facilitating communication are all things that can help your sales operations team truly go above and beyond. And they can all be done in a snap with monday sales CRM.

Automated notifications let the right team members know when a task is completed or needs to be moved to the next stage. Dashboard view lets team management get see the entire team’s progress at a glance. And the Update column lets team members post messages, share files, and tag others without leaving the CRM.

a board in monday social media sales crm of different contacts and their information.

The customizable board-based interface lets you create sales flow charts, a list of your team’s active accounts, or anything else you need to keep track of. Make a board with your entire team member, what accounts they own, relevant contacts, and what stage of the deal their accounts are currently in — then give everyone access so nobody’s left out of the loop.


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What are good sales operations skills?

Soft skills that help build interpersonal relationships like empathy, active listening, and problem-solving are all great to bring to the sales world. A willingness to learn and adapt are also key whether you’re on the more technical side of sales ops or the strategic side.

What are the components of sales operations?

The five key components of any good sales ops team are:

  • Data management: Keeping databases updated
  • Analytics: Analyzing the latest information to see patterns and gain insight
  • Forecasting: Tailoring the company budget based on projected sales
  • Pricing/Proposals: Creating guidelines for the sales department to use around pricing and proposals
  • Accountability: Identifying where improvements can be made and holding the team to account

How do you get into sales operations?

Usually, by gaining experience working in sales — some companies require up to 10 years of experience for a sales ops job. A college degree in a related area like accounting, operations, or finance is also a plus. Well-developed soft skills also help. If a college degree or years of experience isn’t an option, try free online courses and certifications to gain an education in the field instead. Networking and making the right connections are also important.

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Organize and optimize your sales operations team

With the right tools, your sales ops team can help track, organize and improve your sales reps in the field. monday sales CRM gets the busywork out of the way and lets team members do their jobs without distraction. Contact us for a free trial today to see it in action for yourself.

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