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The Five Key Responsibilities of Sales Operations Managers

Sales Operations Managers
The role of the sales operations manager
Good data is a sales operations manager’s best friend

This article will help you simplify your data management, focus on the most important KPIs, and prepare reports that are on point quickly. Best of all, we will show you how to do this without being overwhelmed, by helping you focus on the five main responsibilities you’ll have as a sales operations managers, and how you can measure your success.

Your organization is scaling up.

That’s great news, but also means more metrics to track as you measure the sales team’s performance. The prospect of having to track and manage more KPIs may seem overwhelming, but now, while your company is expanding, is the perfect time to simplify things.

Seem counterintuitive? You’re supposed to be hiring more sales representatives, ramping up sales training, closing more deals and meeting your sales targets, not navel-gazing about your workflow and process—a period of growth is often a time of action, not reflection, right?

Maybe not.

You should constantly be improving your sales performance management, especially when you’re scaling up. A sales leader is always undertaking sales process optimization and tweaking the sales strategy, changing what doesn’t work and focusing on what does so that their team members can maximize their success.

It’s the same for you. You should be looking at your sales cycle and working to streamline the process you use to measure the sales team’s performance even as you grow. This is a practical step that, given the right tools, will let you see how the sales reps are doing in real time, and measure their performance against your goals for the period.

The role of the sales operations manager

A sales ops manager keeps a sales operation running smoothly so the sales manager can, well, focus on actually managing the sales team.

This can mean a lot of things, but in many cases a sales ops managers' job description entails managing the sales data, creating sales reports, setting goals and creating revenue forecasts. They’re also responsible for the sales technology stack and deal with the team's compensation plans.

These responsibilities come along with particular challenges as well, which we’ll address in this article:

  1. Getting accurate, real-time visibility of team performance
  2. Comparing individual performances within a sales team
  3. Better forecasting to help your reps work as a team
  4. Creating, communicating and compensating understandable goals
  5. Maintaining the CRM and other sales tools

In order to perform these duties effectively, it’s helpful to have management experience, problem-solving skills, experience working previous operations jobs and keen business acumen. As sales operations roles are responsible for strategic planning, key decision-making activities and achieving (or increasing) business profitability, having years of experience under your belt is important.

Before we dive into how the sales operations team solves the above challenges, it’s important to address the differences between sales ops and sales enablement.

Both teams focus on empowering sales managers to support reps through various sales initiatives. However, sales enablement teams focus more on assisting reps with tools, guidance, and assets to nurture prospects through the buyer’s journey and ultimately close deals.

On the other hand, the sales operations team assists sales managers with choosing and implementing effective sales methodologies, as well as navigating the above five points—which we’ll explore in more detail now.

1. Getting accurate, real-time visibility of team performance

Every rep has their own goal and quota for the month, quarter and year, but are you setting goals for the entire sales team?

If not, it’s time to start. Sales goals for individual sales reps are an important tool, but without team goals it’s difficult to track your team’s performance and report on their progress.

If you’re scaling up or expanding into new sales territories, managing the goals of a growing team (or multiple sales teams) may seem daunting—how are you supposed to keep track of team goals when you’re adding reps?

To manage team goals effectively you need two things:

You need a CRM that helps you easily compare sales performance across a large number of reps, either within one team or across multiple sales teams, so you can quickly prepare reports about team progress, problem solve and maintain sales effectiveness.

Pipedrive’s Sales Insights and Reports, for example, enables you to fully customize your dashboard view so that you can track whichever sales metrics are most important to you and help you prepare reports—you can even access the feature on your mobile with the Sales Insights app.

You also need an effective, activity-based sales process with well-defined KPIs for you to track. Every rep needs to be following the exact same process with each client. A good sales process prescribes the activities that need to be happening in each stage of the sales pipeline: making calls, setting meetings, scheduling demos. That way, onboarding is quick and seamless and you know what reps are supposed to be doing at certain points in the sales process.

Here’s the thing: to get that real-time information out of the CRM, you need updating the CRM to be a part of the sales process. This is why a simple, easy-to-use CRM (packed with time-saving automation features) is so important: you want the reps to use it every day so you can have the data you need to create your reports.

If the reps are entering sample data, or just not updating the CRM at all, you won’t be able to track their progress or create anything resembling an accurate forecast.

As for your own process, you need to work with your sales manager and the director of sales operations to find the metrics that are most important for you to track. You’ve already got a growing number of reps, so you don’t want a lot of KPIs—just a few important ones you can measure across your entire sales organization.

Here’s a quick director of sales operations job description, as we’ve just mentioned the role:

Sales operations director job description: The director of sales operations is responsible for leading sales operations, optimizing sales processes and driving revenue growth. They develop and implement strategies, identify useful sales tools, manage the operations team and analyze data to understand how they can improve sales performance.

2. Comparing individual performances within a sales team

It’s important to see how the team is doing as a whole, but how is each rep contributing to team performance?

You want to be able to drill down and see each rep’s performance. Performing data analysis helps you and the sales managers be proactive with process improvement and performance enhancement.

By looking at a dashboard for each underperforming rep and comparing their current and historical data, you’ll be better able to understand why they’re struggling. Maybe your rep is just having a bad month and needs encouragement. Maybe they consistently underperform.

You may also see that many reps are having trouble with one particular stage of the pipeline, be it lead generation, lead qualification, nurturing, following-up, or getting bogged down with administrative tasks. That sort of information sends up a red flag: you may not have a problem with your reps, but a problem with your sales process. It may be time to re-evaluate the process and change what’s not working.

A window into the performance of each sales team, down to the individual rep, will help you make informed decisions going forward. And having dashboards that show you real-time information means you can see the problems and address them now, as they’re happening, rather than at the end of the month, when your targets haven’t been met.

3. Better forecasting to help your reps work as a team

You have to channel competition into something that’s healthy for your team. You want them to compete as a group, but you still want a fire under each of your reps so they strive to outperform themselves.

It’s a tricky balance to maintain, but accurate sales forecasting can help you do this.

Think about it: if you’re creating inaccurate forecasts and budgets and setting unrealistic goals for the team, the reps aren’t going to react well and may blame each other when the team doesn’t meet the goals.

But if you’re forecasting well and everyone’s updating the CRM, you can see where everyone is and create team goals that are both challenging and realistic. You’re not expecting the impossible of your team, but you are giving them a little push and working with the sales manager and the director to tell the team that they can meet these goals, but only if they’re working together.

Choose a tool that will help you do this easily. For example, Pipedrive’s Cumulative Revenue Forecast feature provides a quick, easy overview of your team’s overall performance.

Cross-team competition is another strategy that will help you focus your reps’ competitive energy.

If you’re managing multiple sales teams, this strategy can encourage healthy competition. When teams compete, the reps are free to be as competitive as they want. It reduces the risk of nastiness between individuals who have to work together every day. You can even gamify it by adding a leaderboard, points, or rewards.

4. Creating, communicating and compensating understandable goals

Another way to manage reps’ competitive instincts? A fair compensation structure that rewards individuals for outstanding work, but also encourages the team to work together.

One way to do this is to create a layered compensation structure. Such a structure might look like this: 50% of a salesperson’s commissions are tied to an individual target while the other 50% are tied to the team’s target. The percentages will differ based on your team and the goals and needs of your organization.

You could also keep the individual commission structure but offer bonuses to reps when the team goal is met, or pair more experienced reps with new hires. Those senior reps can act as mentors, or they can help with training so that new reps ramp up quickly and are hitting targets by the end of the quarter.

Training on communication skills, analytical skills, nurturing customer relationships and navigating your sales tech stack will also go a long way in assisting new reps to increase their sales productivity.

5. Choosing and maintaining the CRM and other sales tools

Teamwork is often more a process issue than comp issue. One way to get your team to work together is to choose a CRM that the reps like and trust.

If the reps don’t like your CRM, that distrust may spread—reps getting angry with one another if they feel they’re getting bad leads or their hard work isn’t being accurately measured.

A CRM that offers transparency about these things helps reps assess the quality of their prospects and convinces them that their work is being seen.

Alas, even the finest CRM can’t fix one issue: the occasional problem rep.

If one rep is holding back the team, you may consider moving them to a team that’s better suited for their skills.

This is a tough conversation to have, but a CRM can help. As a sales ops manager, you used the data from the CRM to pull the rep’s data and the team data—that’s how you discovered there was a problem. Now you can use that data to keep your conversation from potentially devolving into a shouting match.

Good data is a sales operations manager’s best friend

As a sales ops manager, it’s your job to set goals and drive team growth. You shouldn't be overwhelmed by the data you have to work with daily. Your process should be fast, reliable and focus on what matters most.

You may not work directly with the reps, but you’re responsible for setting their goals, managing the process and measuring their performance.

All of this is a challenge at any time. When your company’s scaling up, it may seem especially difficult, but you can do this.

With the right tools, you can track, measure and forecast more reliably and efficiently, constantly improving your team’s performance and your own, no matter how fast your company is growing.

Read our in-depth guide to managing multiple sales teams and team goals, or our list of challenges when scaling team growth for more. You can also download the ebook at the link below.

Managing teams ebook

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