Sales Operations 101: Examples, Metrics, Roles & More

Sales team not reaching its potential? A sales operations team can change that.

A long-term approach will always see better results than a one-off fix. That’s what sales operations does for your team — streamline the process with a long-term view that will ultimately help your team close more deals.

Ready to increase performance for your sales organization? Let’s dig into the wonderful world of sales ops and how it can make a difference for your sales team.

What is Sales Operations?

Sales operations is the team that handles the non-selling processes and tasks inherent in the sales process. This includes setting up lead generation, outlining sales territories, building incentive programs, analyzing sales data, and setting up automation for repetitive tasks.

In short, sales ops helps sales professionals close more deals faster.

Many administrative tasks need to be handled for a sales process to run smoothly. When these tasks are removed from your sales reps' plates, they can focus on what they do best: closing deals.

A sales ops team covers these tasks within the sales process while also optimizing processes and structures outside the sales process, which are vital to keep the team running smoothly.

Sales Operations vs. Sales Enablement: What's the Difference?

Sales enablement is the strategic process of giving reps the resources and training to close deals effectively. This includes creating onboarding materials, setting up regular sales training initiatives, and helping the team work together to improve overall performance through peer mentoring.

A sales ops team handles the big picture, while sales enablement helps reps complete day-to-day activities. The difference between the two is often minimal, and some people argue sales enablement is part of the sales operations process.

Staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in AI is crucial if you want to enhance your sales enablement efforts and streamline your sales operations. Explore our article on this subject to learn more about leveraging AI in your sales enablement strategy.

Of course, sales operations and enablement aren't mutually exclusive—you can use both to improve your sales performance management.

What Does a Sales Operation Team Do?

A sales operations team can be responsible for many different tasks depending on what your sales team needs. Common sales op tasks include:

Building the Sales Strategy

Sales operations teams often work closely with sales leaders to help them create sales goals and strategies and align those with the company's overall business goals. A good sales operations team can provide data-driven insights into more effective sales strategies.

Sales Process Optimization

A sales operations team has a high-level view of the sales process and its key metrics. They optimize the sales process by identifying areas where it's not working as well as possible.

This can include using data analysis to see which parts of the sales cycle take too long or cost too much money or using automation to streamline repetitive tasks in the sales process. It can also involve improving customer satisfaction and increasing sales revenue.

Creating Sales Forecasts

Figuring out how much you're likely to sell is a complicated process. But because sales ops has access to so much data, it's a great team to task with predicting your revenue using the right sales forecasting strategies.

Sales Operations - Creating Sales Forecasts

‎This means knowing how many leads you need to acquire each month, how many of those will convert into opportunities, and how many of those opportunities will result in closed deals. By helping you better forecast sales volumes, the sales operations team can help your organization make better business decisions.

Leveraging Sales Tools & CRM

Sales technology is becoming a vast expanse of specialized tools and plug-ins. It’s the job of a sales operations team to ensure that your sales reps are using the right tools and getting the most out of them. The ops team monitors sales productivity and continuously works to set up a tech stack that enables the team to perform at their highest potential.

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Handling Data Management & Analysis

Using data to make better decisions is key to the success of your sales ops team, which is a growing trend in sales operations. The best sales operations teams can provide insights to improve your performance by analyzing sales trends or providing insights into customer behavior, answering questions like Are reps making the most of their time? Are our customers delivering maximum lifetime value? Are we reducing turnover?

A good sales operations team can help your organization understand what data is most important to you. They can then use that information to help build tools and processes that make sense for your business. This could mean creating reports and dashboards that provide key metrics or making changes to your CRM system based on the needs of your sales team members.

Sales Operations - Handling Data Management with Close CRM

‎Creating Sales Reports

Sales reporting is an essential piece of the puzzle regarding sales operations. It's not just about providing data—it's also about ensuring the right people have access to the data they need and know how to use it.

And this isn’t just for the sales team: Whether your executive team wants to know this quarter's numbers or the board needs information on the direction of the sales strategy, ops is prepared. They create high-level and detailed presentations and reports to get people the necessary information. In this stage, you may calculate the employee Net Promoter Score and gain insights on boosting your sales team morale.

Lead Generation & Lead Management

A sales operations department is responsible for automating those early-stage sales tasks, such as working alongside marketing to generate new inbound leads and linking those efforts to the customer relationship management software your sales team uses.

Build Sales Compensation Plans

The right salary and sales commission structure can make a huge difference in the performance of your sales team. That structure has to reward making the right sales, not just any sales. And sales ops knows which sales you need to make.

Your sales operations team will look at data from your industry, within your company, and in your part of the country to figure out the best system of compensation.

Managing Interdepartmental Relations

Everyone in your company is invested in sales, so they want input into the strategy process, reports on how things are going, and more. Your salespeople don't have time for that—that's a job for ops.

An extensive sales operations department may cover all of these tasks and more. In contrast, smaller sales teams might have a sales operations analyst or manager working directly with the sales director. Ultimately, you define what sales ops means inside your sales organization based on your team's needs and what it can do.

3 Key Sales Operation Roles for SMBs

Many smaller companies get by just fine with one person in sales operations, but as your team grows, it's a good idea to start thinking about expanding your sales operations team.

Here are three key roles in the sales operations team:

  • Sales Operations Manager: This person ensures the sales team is set up and ready to go. They'll be responsible for building out your CRM system, ensuring that all the data is accurate, and training new hires on how to use it effectively. They might also assist with sales planning by helping the rest of the team develop those plans based on what they see coming through their systems.
  • Sales Operations Analyst: This person will work closely with the Sales Operations Manager, but they'll focus on building the systems themselves and ensuring they are set up correctly. This includes creating reports to track sales performance by territory or account type, developing a workflow for how new leads should be managed (including who should be responsible for reaching out when), and ensuring that everyone works within the same guidelines.
  • Sales Operations Specialist: This person will work on the frontline with sales reps, helping them set up their systems and ensure they use them correctly. They'll also help with training and coaching to ensure that new and entry-level reps understand the best ways to use their tools and how they can hit specific goals.

Some companies may include other sales operations roles, like "coordinator" or "business development/sales and operations rep." Most of these roles align with those listed above or combine them.

When starting your sales ops team, start with a sales operations manager. They'll help you build out the rest of the team.

So, where does your sales ops team fit in with your sales and marketing structure? There's no right answer. Companies have different needs and existing sales team structures. But here's one way you might structure your team:

Sales Operations Roles

What KPIs Should a Sales Operations Manager Track?

Once you start your sales operations program, you need to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure it's working. Here are the seven most important sales operations analytics to monitor to assess your sales operations model's performance. A sales dashboard can help you always stay on top of your KPIs.

Here are eight KPIs any good sales operations manager should track:

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1. Conversion Rate and Close Rate

Conversion rate and win rate are metrics that show how well your sales team converts leads into customers. If you have a high close rate, your team converts leads into sales opportunities well. It's also useful because it allows you to compare your company's lead conversion rates against industry benchmarks and goals.

Sales ops is invested in close rate. They can help adjust lead generation, qualifying, sales process, strategy, pricing, and many other factors affecting the close rate.

Ops teams can also track conversion rates for each stage in your sales pipeline, and use that to optimize the sales activities and process affecting those metrics.

Pro tip: Sales ops teams can easily track conversion rates in Close. The Opportunity Funnel Report separates conversion rates by stage, and shows exactly how each step in the sales process is converting towards new customers.



2. Sales Cycle Length

The sales cycle length is a metric that shows how long it takes for your team to close a sale. It can be a useful KPI to track because if it's too long, you lose out on potential revenue.

Since sales ops is working to optimize the sales productivity and performance of your team, this is a great sales metric to track the success of their efforts. With better leads, more efficient processes, and more time available for selling, salespeople should be posting faster results.

Psst... Want to take your sales game up a notch? Explore our article on sales productivity tools for expert recommendations.

3. Monthly Average Sales Volume

The monthly sales volume is a metric that shows how much revenue you make each month. This is a good KPI to track because it helps you see if your company is doing well or if you need to make some changes. You can measure this by monitoring the total amount of money earned in a given month and dividing it by the number of days in that month (assuming 30). For example:

Total Sales Amount / Number of Days = Monthly Sales Volume

4. Number of New Leads Generated Per Week/Month/Year

This KPI will show you how many people are interested in your products or services. It will help you determine if your inbound or outbound sales strategy is working or if there are areas for improvement. You can measure this by tracking the number of new leads who enter their information into your website each week/month/year or by the number of outbounds converted into opportunities.

5. Sales Team Revenue Growth Rate

The sales team revenue growth rate is the number of new customers a sales team brings in each month/year as a percentage increase over the previous year. This KPI will show you how much revenue your sales team is responsible for generating and can help you determine if they need more people or better training.

For a tailored analysis of how changes in your sales team’s performance can affect overall revenue, check out our revenue growth calculator.

Maximize revenue growth through CRM implementation – insights in our article.

6. Average Deal Size

The average deal size is the total revenue a sales team generates divided by the number of customers they bring in. This KPI can help you determine how much money your sales team is making and if there are ways to increase it. For example, suppose you notice that one of your salespeople has a larger average deal size than another. In that case, they may just need more training, or the company needs to focus on selling higher-end products rather than cheaper ones.

7. Sales Forecasting Accuracy

Forecasting plays a key role in sales operations. So, if you want to track the success of your sales ops team, you should be monitoring how accurate their forecasts are. If forecasts are not accurate, dig into why and work to improve future forecasts.

8. Average Selling Time

Since ops is working to increase sales productivity and streamline repetitive tasks, tracking average selling time is a great way to see how the ops team’s efforts are improving the productivity of your reps.

Evaluate your business's profitability effectively with the help of the return on sales ratio. Learn more in my insightful article on this metric.

What Skills Does Sales Operations Need to Succeed?

When a sales team operates at its full potential, you can expect an increase in revenue, which every company always wants. Let's look at the skills sales ops need to succeed.

Focus on the Right Metrics

Remember that sales ops isn't just about selling to more people. It's about bringing in more revenue. That might mean you need to decrease churn to keep more customers paying you, increase LTV to get more out of each sale or shorten the sales cycle. All of the sales metrics we talked about above are good measures of how your ops team is pushing sales.

Best Practices For Sales Operations

How to do it: Review your metrics regularly and make sure your sales ops team knows that's how you'll measure their success.

Leverage Automated Lead Distribution

In the past, sales reps had geographic territories. They still might today, but your sales technology is more likely to let them sell to anyone, anywhere, at any time. But that doesn't mean they all sell to the same kinds of people.

Whether assigning leads round-robin or by specific types of sales and expertise of your team, sales ops should have a clearly defined distribution strategy.

How to do it: Learn six clear steps to set up your first automated lead distribution process here.

Understand How Pricing Impacts Sales

How much time have you spent ensuring your industry's pricing structure is the best? Probably not nearly enough. You're not selling on price—you're selling on value—but you need the price structure that brings in the most revenue.

How to do it: Your sales ops team has the data and the smarts to ensure your pricing structure kicks ass. Make sure they know it's a priority.

For a closer look at how value metrics can drive business growth, head over to our dedicated article on the topic.

Work Alongside Marketing and Sales Enablement

Sales operations is a cross-functional team. They work with just about everyone, from sales to human resources. They can also greatly help both marketing and sales enablement teams.

How to do it: Your marketing team is invested in leads and managing a lot of data and analytics, and so is your sales ops group. Get them working together to ensure they get what they need to support your sales process.

Sales Data Analysis

One big part of sales operations is understanding what works and what doesn't. The only way to do that is to dig into the data! It can also be a great way to see which parts of your salesforce are most effective.

How to do it: Make sure your sales tools are integrated so they can share data. Then, build a dashboard that looks at the sales KPIs that matter most to your team. Using a BI tool like Google Data Studio or Tableau can streamline this process, but a simple Excel template might work for smaller teams.

Grow Your Company With Sales Ops + Close

Your sales team is responsible for bringing revenue into your company. Your sales operations team helps them do this faster, better, and with less hassle. It's a crucial part of your sales organization.

Of course, for your sales operations team to perform at its peak, it needs access to the right tools.

Many sales tools are made for sales operations teams, but if you’re just starting out, it’s best to keep it simple.

Close is an ideal CRM tool for sales teams ready to grow with their first operations team member. We're communication and data-focused, so your sales ops team can easily track sales activity, monitor conversion rates and key sales funnel metrics, and set up a customized pipeline to create a more efficient sales process.

Get started with Close today to see how this powerful CRM for SMBs can level up your sales org.

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