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Rising Roles in Sales Operations

October 31, 2012 | By Mark Levinson

The sales operations function has existed for years within b-to-b sales organizations. I have seen it transform many times, and I see more transformation down the road. The good news: This transformation is for the better.

The sales operations function has existed for years within b-to-b sales organizations. I have seen it transform many times, and I see more transformation down the road. The good news: This transformation is for the better.

From its humble beginnings focusing on tactical tasks like data analysis and reporting, sales operations has grown to become a critical and strategic role. The next evolution will bring a more specialized sales operations team that can adapt to support growing sales organizations or large, global sales teams.

To provide the sales intelligence needed to ensure alignment with today’s buyers, sales operations will need to transform from a team of generalists to subject matter experts who can focus on core tactical elements. Some of the specialist roles that sales operations leaders need to be thinking about are:

  • Quantitative analyst. With the increase in data collection and management, core sales metrics will need to be expanded to provide better insight. The implementation of predictive analytics through statistical methodologies will transform sales analytics’ lagging indicators into leading indicators, but it will take a focused role within sales operations to translate these into digestible outputs.
  • Compensation administrator. Sales operations has always played an important role in sales compensation. This responsibility has historically been focused on quota allocation. Administration of the entire sales compensation plan is typically found in human resources or finance. To create consistency and ensure that the overall plan ties to the corporate goals and sales goals, sales operations will need to manage the plan within the team directly.
  • Contract administrator. For many b-to-b companies, the proportion of legal resources to sales resources is never enough. Legal’s concern is that agreements are made and created without approval, and sales’ concern is that the sales process is delayed while limited legal resources review each transaction. A contract administration role within sales operations will work directly with legal on transaction consistency, and will give sales reps a resource to help quickly move transactions forward.

Sales productivity is driven through making sales reps more efficient and effective. By providing intelligence, guidance and support, each of these specialized roles can help sales reps increase the percentage of time they spend interacting with customers.

 

Mark Levinson

Mark Levinson is Vice President and Group Director of Sales and Channel Services at SiriusDecisions. Mark’s nearly 20 years of experience includes a wide variety of sales operations issues including strategic planning, territory optimization, compensation plans, account management, sales tools and sales analytics. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBLevinson.

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