Sales Strategy

Sales Operations a Necessity More Than Ever

Pop quiz. Which Fortune 500 company first established the “sales operations” function 50 years ago? Here’s a hint...

April 8, 2021

Pop quiz. Which Fortune 500 company first established the “sales operations” function 50 years ago? Here’s a hint (the answer is at the bottom):

In half a century, this critical role has expanded into most businesses – big and small – and now employs 38% more professionals than just three years ago, according to a new report by LinkedIn. And hiring for this role has accelerated 5x as fast as all other sales roles. The catalyst behind this acceleration? The insatiable demand for growth from investors and executives. With such high expectations put on sales leaders’ shoulders year after year to hit bigger revenue targets, finding operational and strategic help is imperative.

Take it from Steven Broudy, SVP of Sales at Bevy. Fresh off Series C funding of $40,000,000 (and a much-applauded company effort to hire an inclusive and diverse workforce), Bevy’s purpose is to help companies grow their communities. Their workforce has gone from 25 employees two years ago to over 110 today. For Steven, growing the sales team meant finding a talented sales ops resource early. As a guest on the Sales Hacker podcast, he shared what it’s like without one:

It’s like trying to build the plane and fly it yourself. If you’re a VP of sales, you’re probably an inch deep and a mile wide on too many things. Getting from Point A to Point B is next to impossible without (sales operations).

His advice to sales leaders is to build the business case for a sales ops hire if you know what good looks like and anticipate the need. You’re more likely to get to Point B faster. Though the span of responsibilities can be vast, the role boils down to strategy and execution using data to:

  • analyze the sales process to uncover bottlenecks
  • design territories and comp plans
  • help the sales leader forecast accurately
  • identify sales performance gaps against KPIs
  • build onboarding and enablement programs that shorten sales cycles
  • serve as the bridge to other functions like finance and marketing

A study from Salesforce Research points to similar findings. Nearly 6,000 sales pros weighed in to say sales operations is indeed a critical lever for growth. Eighty-five percent agree that the function is increasingly strategic. Buried in the middle of the report, but no less important is the accelerated age of digital transformation in which we currently live. All too common is the rep with 30 tabs open to resemble some form of a “workflow.” Sales ops is best equipped to evaluate the tech stack, tie it together into efficient workflows to increase productivity, and appease the CFO by buying and implementing only what’s necessary to drive more revenue.

The size of your sales ops team will vary dependent on your go-to-market strategy, ideal customer, and deal size, but most agree on a ratio of one sales ops resource to every 10 or 15 reps. Negotiate a pre-determined ratio with your CEO or CFO to ensure the function is staffed appropriately. Then go out and hire. Your revenue target will still be big, but hitting that number becomes more realistic and believable with sales operations at your side.

Answer: Xerox.

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