BD tips and insights

The Rise (and rise) of Sales Operations

February 8, 2019 | Posted in: Business Development Strategy

Sale guy

Sales Operations (or if you like ‘business development’) is moving into a broader, more dynamic and strategic role both within many organisations – and so it should.  If there’s one function in the revenue generation engine that sees all and knows all, it’s Sales Operations.

Historically, Sales Operations was a blanket covering anything to do with ‘sales’ meaning if no one else had the resources, the job was handballed to the Sales Operations team.  Even worse, in some organisations Sales Operations role amounted to little more than to manually collate and produce forecast and pipeline data to punch into spreadsheets for forecast reports. As a result, the Sales Operations Manager was a data ‘order-taker’ instead of a key analyst providing insights, identifying risks and measurement against strategy.  They were a reactive team instead of a proactive one.

Now however, in high growth organisations Sales Operations has become a strategic function, whose primary purpose is to develop, improve, and optimise how the entire sales and revenue generation function works and performs at-scale.

A key driver and rationale behind this shift in high growth organisations centres on ownership and accountability for revenue.

Whereas in low growth organisations there is an overabundance of revenue ‘responsibility’ but a lack of accountability. Meaning all sales productivity and effectiveness efforts struggle to succeed because of a lack of liability for ‘the number’.

Why? Or ‘who’s number is it?’

Is it the business unit’s number? The service or product line’s number? The sales person’s number? The Head of Sales’ number?

In organisations where there are so many people with numbers to hit, without a strategic Sales Operations team, their efforts can cancel each other out for the top line revenue number.

JMA sales enablement and optimisation service means we are often working organisations grappling with fragmented responsibilities for revenue generation. Usually there are many different stakeholders that require information at varying levels of detail. Part of our role is to work with those different stakeholders to facilitate their success using our technology and frameworks, but our most successful implementations typically have a leader from Sales Operations.

In our experience Sales Operations is perfectly placed to understand business requirements and provide strategies and technology solutions to increase sales effectiveness.  The key is how they take data, create insights and determine the action required.  This is often referred to as sales enablement, which has many definitions.  One view is that sales enablement is the key linchpin required to help a B2B organisation bridge the gap between their business strategies and how they execute in the field.

We define sales enablement as Sales Performance Optimisation which combines business process support, agile frameworks with data analytics and predictable outcomes.

Sales Performance Optimisation includes:

  • Processes, frameworks, methodology, technology and tools that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales organisation.
  • Confronting internal issues that impede sales interactions and effectiveness to simplify the infrastructure behind the sales force.
  • Required to drive revenue velocity by directly impacting the sales team’s ability to attract, win, and retain more clients.

Any Sales Operations team that can align itself to a client’s buying processes and decisionmaking methodologies will create the most agile and effective overall sales engine  deliver the best result at a lower cost of sale, or achieve Sales Performance Optimisation.

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