As 2020 comes to a close, there is a litany of lessons business owners have learned throughout the year.
They’ve learned how to switch to remote working and how to transform our processes to be online. They’ve embarked on the path of learning how to transition embracing digital transformation. They’ve learned how to reformulate their business models.
Therefore, reimagining their business strategies, and in turn, their workflows.
No matter their industry, they have each been hit with a new set of norms. These norms redefined their former systems, replacing them with ones of the modern age. Teams have and are still making the necessary adjustments to ensure the continued growth of their businesses.
One of these adjustments, in particular, called for the development, or rather, redevelopment of their sales operations roadmap.
But what is a sales operation roadmap? Where does it fit in a business model and strategy? What does this process entail?
These are fair questions — which is why we’re here today, creating this guide. Below we detail everything that pertains to sales operations roadmaps. We’re here to break down the terminology and provide insight into developing a sales operation roadmap.
Sales Operations: The Basics
In our ever-transforming digital world, this isn’t as cut and dry as traditional methods of sales approach.
Changes in the consumer’s world invoke changes in the marketplace. Consumer expectations and anticipations must be met, and we must do so whilst remaining above competitors.
This calls for strategy, specifically, a sales operations roadmap. Yet, before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s necessary to address the basics; what even is sales operations?
Sales Operations Defined
So what is sales operations? Hubspot defines sales operations as everything responsible “from lead management, sales strategy, territory structuring, and alignment to sales process optimization, compensation plans, sales automation, training, and data analytics and reporting.” That covers a lot of ground, as it should.
For many industries and businesses alike, the term looks different, depending on the company’s business model and strategy. Nevertheless, since the very first iteration of the term in the 1970s, we’ve seen this term be given many definitions. Each of these definitions center on the analysis of data as a means to provide insight and direction to sales reps.
We can say collectively that sales operations concerns completing the proper data analysis to give the proper support to sales teams. This support should enable them to sell more effectively. They will then have the tools needed to develop a strategic approach to their sales operations.
This strategy should reduce friction and increase sales.
Sale Operations: The Why
Why is this important to your team? Why even implement sales operations into your strategy?
As previously stated, sales operations reduce friction and therefore, increases sales. The insights provided from the data on the consumer base, trends, and market (as well as market competition), are what allows teams to develop plans to put in place to reduce friction. This then allows salespeople to be more productive, and therefore, more successful.
Developing and enforcing a fully-fleshed out sales operations roadmap is what will give your team the means to establish and later maintain sufficient growth in the marketplace.
Teams that do enforce elaborate sales operation roadmaps see many advantages that teams who otherwise don’t enforce this method of success. Advantages extend beyond an increase in sales. While of course, this is the end goal for businesses regardless of their industry, further advantages include the following:
- Data-driven insights based on consumer trends and market competition
- Edge amongst competition due to strategic planning and decision making (from collected data)
- Streamlined process to sales approach, funneling down to other departments efficiency and processes
- More proactive onboarding and training due to clarity of goals and approach to achieving such goals
- Increase in overall team productivity due to clarify from data-driven insights on market and consumer trends
- Smoother operations for both sales ops team and management
All of these advantages are derived from a clear and concise mission and goals. This is from the discoveries made upon the completion of efficient research and analysis of the marketplace. This is the purpose of sales operations.
Roles & Responsibilities In Sales Operations
Sales operations is an exhaustive term. It coverings many aspects of revenue growth and therefore has many different roles that make up the nature of the term. Sales operations teams take on the roles of four main categories: strategy, technology, operations, and performance.
Strategy is the utmost important category within the roles of sales ops.
They are responsible for defining all high-level visions for the sales organization (this includes other sales operations team members, sales enablement team members, and sales representatives), and developing the strategies to meet such goals.
As the main role within the four categories, strategy entails sales process optimization, sales technology and methodology evaluation, sales coverage modeling and territory planning, high-level planning and goal setting for teams within the sales department, data analysis, and sales forecasting based on data analysis.
Technology is perhaps the second most important category within sales operations.
Due to the increase in SaaS applications and other sales tools in the marketplace, better technology can allow processes to become streamline when employed properly.
These technologies, however, are complex in their form and require specialists to implement them correctly into processes.
This is where sales ops take this responsibility, leaving sales reps to do their role and curate leads for continued revenue growth.
A sales ops working on technology will be responsible for integrating the apps and tools into workflows, adapting and customizing the CRM, managing communication, data and reporting of this data, and lastly, task automation.
Next, we have operations. Operations works closely with other sales operations team members as well as sales enablement and sales representatives. This can be understood due to the namesake of this role, operations.
Sales ops responsible for operations contribute to the performance and expertise within the entire sales department. They do so by assuming both the administrative tasks and operational tasks.
They are able to succeed in their role by working closely with both the strategy and technology sale ops team members in which they utilize the data analysis and process optimization methods in product and sales training, hiring and onboarding, market intelligence supports, contract and SLAs, as well as KB management. Particularly, they work closely with sales reps, giving them the information needed to succeed during their discovery calls (detailed down below).
Lastly, there’s performance. Performance, like operations, works closely with sales reps and sales enablement. They seek to improve performance, as their namesake, and productivity for sales representatives.
They do so by focusing on priorities such as the implementation of sales methodologies and practices. They also identify KPIs and sales metrics, compensation and incentive plans, and lastly, lead management.
Each of these roles comes together with the end goal of increasing revenue and overall productivity. They work closely together to gain the information needed to better increase the processes of the other. Moreover, they work with two key teams that are a part of the sales department; sales representatives and sales enablers.
What Is Sales Enablement? A Component Of Sales Op
While both terms, sales operations and sales enablement, sound similar, the two are not the same. Sales operations consist of conducting a data-driven analysis. This allows them to leverage sales processes and increase revenue.
Sales enablement, however, is the process that provides salespeople the means to sell more effectively. The keywords here are “provides salespeople the means”.
These means consist of information, content, and tools that can allow salespeople to better connect with the buyer. This means providing the team with the means to engage the buyer. They are to make them feel apart of something more, to entice and provide them the invaluable value they cannot overlook.
This is what allows them to complete the sale.
So yes, they sound similar. However, the two cover two different grounds and both should be incorporated into a business plan. They work together to improve the productivity of a sales team.
Can You Put More Concisely, What’s The Difference?
In an effort of clarity, we’ll break down the two. Many people use these two terms interchangeably and it’s a misfortunate oversight. Nonetheless, their overarching goals are the same, and overlap in positions is evidence of this.
Both sales operations and sales enablement are used to increase the effectiveness of the sales department. They together drive the growth revenue of revenue for the company. What differs between the two teams is in fact how the roles play out when employed in the office.
Sales enablement teams work alongside sales operations teams. They are supporting roles, normally deployed at the earliest phases within a business’s journey. They serve the purpose to help sales ops based upon the research gather, they put the data into practice.
The best way to think of sales enablement is to view it as a component of sales operations. Their objective is to provide salespeople with resources to sell more effectively. These resources typically concern the buyer, rather than the product or business.
Sales ops create and analyze data, sales enablers take this data and realize how to make this relevant to the target buyer. Imagine a researcher and manager on one end and a practitioner and enabler on the other.
Sales Enablement Roles & Responsibilities
So what’re the exact roles and responsibilities for sales enablement?
To be concise, there are about four key attributes to sales enablement. These are content management, sales training, sales communication, and marketing insights. Just like sales ops, they work closely with both teams in the sales departments; sales ops, and sales reps.
As mentioned, they provide sales reps the tools need to perform well in the discovery process or sales calls.
By properly managing the content of the company, sales enablement team members can deliver the content to be sold by the sales reps in the most efficient manner. They are responsible for ensuring this content is buyer-specific. Both the product and conservation will be held between the potential lead and sales rep.
This requires proper training, however. The sales enablement team fully curates the content to be sold by the sales reps, moreover, they train the team to be knowledgeable of the product as well as the buyers. They are responsible for ensuring the sales reps are equipped with any and all knowledge by coaching sessions, consumer simulated conversations, video representations, and more.
Upon training, the sales enablement team is to put the sales reps to practice. They continue training by monitoring the sales reps’ calls with the buyers and take any and all relevant information back to the sales ops team. This is to ensure all blind spots are addressed in the entire sales operation.
This information is again, used as insights. Sales enablement team members are to take all the information and present it to the sales ops team for them to further analyze the data.
This data is then redelivered to the sales enablement team. This restarts the process of content management sales training and sales communication. It is a process of continued iteration to stay ahead of the competition and continue delivering value to consumers.
This is what grows revenue. They align the product to the people. This alignment is through proper training of the sales reps.
Furthermore, personalizing the sales content and processes developed by the sales ops. These attributes are what provide sales reps the means to connect with the lead and generate sales.
The Middle Man, AKA, The Enforcer
Most importantly, sales enablement teams are the ones responsible for the measurement of the overall sales department. They are the ones who first hand observe what processes are being put and place. If their content and training are generating the desired outcome for the company.
An effective sales enablement team or leader should be observing and generating meaningful measurements for the sales ops team. They are to track the metrics within the sales representatives. They are to determine whether these metrics are reaching the predictions and expectations of the sales ops team.
These metrics determine the data-driven insights of the product, company, consumer base, and market competition. Sales enablement teams are absolutely vital in the success of conducting a sales operations roadmap.
Sale Enablement: The Why
Why is sales enablement important? Why should they be included in the sales department and sales operations?
Consider sales enablement the middle man of the sales department.
It is not the job of neither the sales operators nor the sales representatives to create content. It is the task of sales enablement. This is based on the information and data of the consumer base and product.
Instead, it is the role of the sales enablement team. The sales operators are to focus on research, analyses, and developing strategies. The sales enablement teams take this information. They then turn it into content needed for the sales representatives to present in their discovery calls.
Moreover, they train the sales representatives to not only reach quota. They do this by equipping the sales reps with the means to consistently meet quota. This is done in a fashion that is predictable, scalable, and repeatable when given adequate training.
They take the data-driven insights discovered by the sales ops and use this in their training and communication with the sales reps. They too then take the information discovered within the sales reps’ calls and represents it to the sales ops. They then work alongside members of the sales ops team to develop market insights.
Later, they go back to content creation for the sales reps to represent to the buyers.
Before the sales enablement team can provide information and insights to the sales operations team for them to analyze and process, sales representatives are to embark on the journey into discovery, as known as, the sales discovery process.
What exactly does this process of discovering information entail? And how do sales enablement teams gain these insights from the sales reps?
The Sales Discovery Process & Sales Reps
Everything starts with research. It is the first step to discovery. It allows us to define any problems and therefore, develop solutions.
In regards to sales operations, the sales discovery process is debatably the most crucial phase in every sales operations roadmap. The process calls for questioning your consumer base.
This allows for teams to uncover any and all pertinent information on their target market. This gives them the means to better close sales, establish relationships, and remain relevant in the marketplace.
So what makes up this process? How does it lend structure to data analysis and how to is this information executed in practice? Let’s explore.
Sales Discovery Process: The Origin Point Of Success
The sales discovery process looks different for every business. Just as sales operations, the process varies depending on the business, its model, and its industry.
Nonetheless, a typical sales discovery process is separated into four sections. This involves setting the stage, qualifying, disqualifying, and the subsequent steps to discovery.
Before further divulging, it’s worth addressing what sales discovery is.
The sales discovery process is the very first step in sales operations. Well, subsequent to establishing your product and connecting it to your market.
The sales discovery process better connects you to your market. They’re out there, but you’ve got to know how to make those leads turn into revenue and the discovery process does just that.
How it does so is through questioning those leads in the effort to uncover their needs. This takes essentially two skills in order to effectively execute proper research. Sales reps must ask the right questions and listen, truly listen attentively to the lead.
This is necessary as consumers are quick to notice when they are being viewed as simply lead. Customers shut down and the potential revenue leaves with them.
Let’s address the questions sales ops are to ask during the discovery process. Keep in mind, the overall goal of this process is to learn about the target buyer. Referring back to those four sections, the sales discovery process begins with setting the stage.
Four Sections That Makeup The Sales Discovery Process
There are many questions to be asked during this discovery call as it is, at the end of the day, a conversation being held. Each discovery call does normally involve the following questions as a means to set the stage for the sales ops team.
Setting The Stage
For the first section of a sales discovery process, those questions involve setting up the stage for sales operations. Those questions usually look like the following:
- What’s your company? What does it do?
- What’s your role? And what do your daily tasks consist of?
- What’re you responsible for?
This gives the required background for the discovery team. It sets the stage, allowing them to later built consumer personas.
Subsequent questions are either qualifying or disqualifying. That is, upon setting the stage, the team member is to next identify, qualify, and later disqualify the prospect (or lead). Those questions would be something like:
- What’re your goals? When do you need those achieved?
- What problems are you trying to solve? What’re any problems you’re currently facing?
- What’s the source(s) of those problems?
- What’s your plan in place to resolve these problems? Do you have one in place?
There are many more questions that make up the qualifying section of the discovery process. Their purpose is to uncover any problems your consumer base may be facing. They too serve the purpose of identifying their goals in order to propose solutions within your sales operations.
The third section of questions within the process is disqualifying questions. Those usually look like the following:
- What’s keeping you from resolving these problems?
- Is it monetary (i.e. not in your company’s budget)?
- What’s the timeline for implementation within your company?
- Where does this budget come from?
These particular questions will vary.
Nonetheless, the goal for them is to decide whether or not this consumer is in fact in your base. You’re essentially targeting your market by disqualifying anyone that happens to not be in your reach at all or at the moment. This is to better qualify the data insights needed in sales operations.
Our final section within the discovery process is the next step questions. This is how you turn that lead into a potential consumer. Those questions consist of:
- What else is involved in your team’s choice of a vendor?
- Have you purchased a similar product in the past?
- How was that experience?
- How can I make this process easier for you?
- What’s your ideal solution?
- What’re your and your company’s goals for the future?
- How do you intend on achieving these goals?
The goal is to provide a solution to the prospect. To entice them and then offer them the next steps of moving forward if they too desire to. Regardless of whether or not they’ve turned into a future customer, a sales op team member has gained value in their consumer insights.
This consumer insight is what makes up sales operations, or rather, a facet of sales operations. They’ve either qualified or disqualified a prospect. This better targets their market and gives them the information needed to better define their market’s problems, their team’s solutions, and later roadmap to revenue growth.
How This Leads To Analysis For Sales Ops & Content For Sales Enablement
The insights discovered in the discovery process are one of the many aspects that makeup sales operations. Furthermore, the discoveries made in this process are ever-evolving as these calls are apart of the role of a salesperson. Their responsibility is to close deals and provide insight to sales ops.
The sales ops team has many roles and responsibilities. We’ll divulge further down below. However, we find it necessary to explore how the discovery process lends direction for the sales operations teams.
As we previously mentioned, many believe the sales discovery process to be the most vital in determining the success of a business. This is fair, as not only do these calls focus on closing deals, they are areas of discernment in the entire sales operations department.
Just how it is an aspect in the data-driven by sales operations is what it uncovers. These question within the discovery process uncover six vital assets that make up a successful sales operations strategy:
- The customer’s situation and how it works
- The customer’s needs and challenges
- Who is involved in decision making within the customer’s company
- What is the competition (and what’re they doing differently)
- The customer’s preferred buying process
- The solutions can we provide, and what is their impact
These six aspects funnel down to strategy. They influence how the sales op will leverage these insights. As well as how the sales enablement team can come in and help with any blind spots or areas of improvement for the sales team.
Sales enablement takes this information provided by sales ops. They then curate content and implements effective training across the board for sales reps.
Together They Make Up Sales Operations Roadmap
Sales operations and sales enablement should be used together in your sales operations roadmap. Sales enablement is a component of sales operations.
It shouldn’t be overlooked when developing your roadmap. Sales operations is cross-functional, each of these three teams relies on the other.
Sales operations team members are responsible for defining all high-level visions. They are responsible for the sales organization and developing strategies to meet such goals. Sales enablement team members provide sales operations with this insight from their work with sales representatives.
Moreover, they manage and create content based on the data and processes developed by sales operations. They then present this to sales reps. Sales reps are then tasked with putting everything into practice in the sales calls (or discovery processes in order to generate leads and create new revenue streams).
Each of these teams is dependent on one another, each makes up the sales operations roadmap. It is necessary for sales departments to be aware of the differences between each team. This is is ensure that no roles overlap and processes can be applied without conflation or confusion between teams.
How To Run A Successful Operations Team: The Best Practices
How does this look in practice and what makes up the best practice in operating a sales department? Success requires six main factors effective business leaders are keen on incorporating within their sales department.
These factors consist of establishing teams and roles within the teams. They then are to define the teams and departments’ purpose through mission statements.
Later, leaders are in charge of fostering a community of team and departmental collaboration. This too includes establishing leadership within teams and departments.
They also enforce necessary shadowing cross-teams for insight into processes. The consistent innovation across the department. Lastly, the delivery of value to the end-buyers and stay ahead of the competition.
Establish Teams, Establish Roles
Establishing three teams within your sales department is the first practice to developing a successful operations roadmap and overall sales department. These teams, as you may have guessed, should consist of a sales operations team, sales enablement teams, and sales representative team.
Roles within each team should be established as well. This would be designating junior, senior, manager, and VP roles. This specifies tasks to specific team members. It ensures processes are streamlined.
This increases the collaboration of team members and workflows.
Define Your Purpose: Mission Statement
Upon identifying team roles within the department, the next practice consists of defining a mission statement. This is to align everyone with the overall purpose of the team.
Some businesses may have one central mission statement for the entire sales department. Some may have a mission statement for each team within the overall department.
Nevertheless, it’s necessary to have a collectively known mission for team members to know their purpose, therefore, their role and responsibility.
Regardless of what a company chooses to do, it is in its best interest to define its purpose. This defines objectives, and goals, and thus spreads department and company-wide acknowledgment.
Foster A Community of Collaboration
Fostering a community of collaboration is perhaps the most important practice of developing a successful sales operations roadmap.
We’ve come to learn that sales operations are a collaborative process. It is one that requires and encourages communication across team members and teams.
Sales representatives need sales enablement. Sales enablement needs sales reps to gather their information. Sales operations need sales enablement. This overall betters the process for sales representatives.
Departments are successful in their sales practice when they actively communicate and collaborate with each other. They are to advocate for the improvement of one another.
They consistently seek ways in which each of these three teams is to aid in the overall goal of improving the value for the consumer remaining above the competition and continuing the growth and sustainability of the company’s revenue.
Establish Leadership For Clarity & Vision
In fostering a community of collaboration, it is fit all the more necessary to have first established leadership within each team. This is for the sake of clarity and vision to avoid any mess that may come with open collaboration.
Moreover, having established leadership within teams further allows for a clearer definition of roles within teams and the department. This will provide a structure within the overall department.
It gives team leaders the capacity to meet the expectations of their members as their roles and responsibilities will be defined and vice versa.
Shadowing Teams Is A Necessity
Shadowing may fall under collaboration, however, that is not altogether true. Shadowing of the sales representatives should a mandatory process.
Not only to be done by sales enablement but too the sales operations team. This will give them the first-hand look at the information and insights gathered by and delivered from the sales enablement team.
This will allow them to witness first-hand how their processes are put into place, what their research and systems look like when enforced by the sales reps, and what the overall impact is of their work.
This will also reinforce a bond between the sales reps and sales ops team as sales enablement is typically the middle man between the two teams.
Innovation Is Key To Success
As always for any business practice, method, or strategy, innovation is always key to the continued success of a company. Don’t hesitate to innovate when the opportunity presents itself. Don’t neglect to seek out opportunities for innovation due to complacency.
This is why a sales rep’s role is incredibly important to the success of an organization. Sales reps are responsible for the discovery process. This is the most important process within the sales operations roadmap.
Recall, sales reps are responsible for asking the right questions and listening attentively to the prospect. This is to set the stage, qualify, disqualify, and set up the next steps of moving forward in the sale.
In this process of discovery, sales reps are securing a sale. But also, sales enablement team members are too seeking out methods in which they can improve their own product. They deliver this information back to sales operations to further improve upon processes, as well as the product.
Successful leaders do not allow for this process to be an oversight. Leaders within the sales representative team should be quick to acknowledge areas of improvement and innovation. Sale rep calls are the easier and best sources to seek out methods of innovation and it comes at no cost to the company.
Don’t Forget The Customer
Don’t forget the customer. This entire process of having an elaborate sales department is not simply for the sales reps to continue embarking on a journey of endless calls.
Rather, it is to equip them with the necessary means to generate leads and secure revenue growth.
They will achieve success in those two factors through being equipped with the sufficient content and information provided by the data from both the sales enablement and operations teams. Therefore, leverage these three departments to better connect with the consumer base.
Successful organizations have in-depth knowledge of their target markets. This in-depth knowledge is from research and data analysis. As well as effective and productive sales training from the sale enablement team.
Again, each of these teams lends structure and feeds information and value into one another. This information and structure are for the end goal of customer retention and revenue growth.
Stay Ahead Of Competition
Staying ahead of the marketplace competition isn’t a difficult task. Companies must leverage their teams. They should consistently seek methods of innovation and listen to their consumer base.
Having a fully-fleshed out sales department with established roles, leadership, clear missions, and goals. They must regularly shadow departments and fosters a community of collaboration is what this leveraging entails.
The two remaining factors will seamlessly fall into place, a culture of innovation will naturally be enforced and customers ‘ needs will be addressed giving organizations the upper hand over their competition.
Sales Operations Determines Revenue Growth
A sales operations roadmap is key to the continued success of a company. Sales operations roadmap should assist a team in generating profit. It should provide insight into their consumer base and competition.
It should give the information needed to develop systems and processes to better connect with their consumers and remain relevant in the market.
A sales operations roadmap, when implemented and executed as detailed in this guide, will allow teams of any industry to turn a profit.
While it is a process, it is all the more necessary to incorporate in today’s ever-evolving market.