Sales Operations, the new essential ally to boost your revenue figure and your teams

What about the context…

The last 3 years have been historic. They have been marked by a pandemic, an upsurge in the activity that led to shortages and record inflation, and wars. All of this has disrupted a globalized economy and forced it to evolve. And who would have predicted it? 

Knowing that the use of Internet in the professional uses was even more accelerated by the successive periods of lockdown.

Salespeople are working from home, selling via video conferencing, and sharing more and more dematerialized information with customers and colleagues. B2B companies are moving into e-commerce and/or information exchange platforms with their customers.

From all of this, new working methods and sales strategies have emerged and new activities have developed. And today, we would like to focus on the concept and function of “Sales Operations”.

According to LinkedIn’s “State of Sales Operations 2021” report, the number of Sales Operations Manager positions has increased by 38% worldwide between 2018 and 2020. 

So, what are sales ops? Why is it now critical to the business? What can we expect from it? And concretely, how does it apply for B2B companies and in particular for manufacturers, packaging printers and cardboard companies?

1 - "Sales Operations", what is it?

The concept of “Sales Operations” aims at improving the sales processes in a company to support its growth. Sales Ops enable the organization to sell more efficiently and quickly, help salespeople achieve their objectives and advise them on how to continuously improve their sales practices.

The main mission of Sales Ops is to focus on the optimization of internal processes and in particular :

  • Redefining sales objectives
  • Adopting new systems, tools and technologies to support the sales effort
  • Analyze data to identify business trends and areas for improvement 
  • Establish and refine lead generation strategy 
  • Automate prospecting by implementing the right tools and processes, such as personalizing sequences or harmonizing email templates
  • Automate recurring tasks such as CRM data entry, reports, email follow-ups, etc.
  • Harmonize sales practices and assist in sales force recruitment.

In summary, Sales Operations are a strategic component for the company because it guides the sales and marketing strategy and enables better sales practices. It is particularly important for B2B companies.

2 - "Sales Operations", why do you need them now?

Do you want your salespeople to sell more?

According to Salesforce, a salesperson spends only 34% of his time selling.  

What does he do with the remaining 66% of their time? 

Entering data into the CRM, writing reports, managing customer files to launch production, managing complaints, managing invoice collections, attending sales meetings, general meetings, training…

And more particularly, in our sector of activity, cardboard converters, cardboard factories, and other packaging printers: collaborating internally for the flow of studies in the Design Office, models, quotations, management of graphic files up to the corrected proof, to finally launch orders and to make the files progress in a general way with the inevitable back and forth to finally launch production and invoice… 

So many tasks to perform that prevent him from doing his job: acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, making additional sales and thus developing the company’s revenue.

Sales Ops are there to understand these flows, analyze them, simplify them and improve them.

Your salespeople will be satisfied, they will perform better and improve their results.

The support teams as well: sales administration, methods, quotation, design office.

For an engineer reading this article, this is the “Lean Management” of Sales.

The age of "data"

Several factors explain the emergence of this concept and the corresponding functions within companies: 

  • The amount of data generated within organizations is constantly increasing,
  • The multiplication of communication channels between your company and your customers (customer meetings, trade shows, newsletters, emails, social networks, website…),
  • The multiplication of channels for acquiring new customers (showcase or E-Commerce site, trade shows, networking, marketplaces, word of mouth …),
  • The massification of data leads to reflection and analysis. Analysis that sales teams need to be able to sell better,
  • The evolution of the economic context.


More and more data is being exchanged, which is information that needs to be used correctly, both in terms of analysis and in terms of strategic thinking and the concrete actions (processes, work organization, investments, implementation of the right tools) that result from it.

Who in your organization can drive all this, with the objective of developing your revenues and profitability while improving the experience of your employees?

IT? General management? Sales management? Sales administration? Operational management?

Probably it is not clear: responsibility, job description, expected objectives need to be revised according to this new “data” paradigm to make the Sales Operations function emerge in your organization.

Align the 5 pillars of your organization

Considering that your company is built around five major pillars: strategy, people, data, process, and tools, Sales Operations must become the backbone of your company by linking each of these major pillars and ensuring that the alignment is perfect.

Are you sure that your sales objectives and your strategy to achieve them are perfectly aligned with your teams? And your internal processes? And with the tools you use? Is it related to what your data says – which you’ve necessarily analyzed and deconstructed ? 

If the answer is no, you need to structure Sales Operations. 

3 - "Sales Operations", to increase your revenue figure and your teams

Increase your turnover

As a key indicator, with a constant scope (same sales team, same marketing budgets), Sales Ops allow you to increase your turnover. In particular, Sales Ops will work to:

  • Increasing the customer base
  • Increasing the turnover per customer account
  • Increasing the conversion of quotes/orders

Increase profitability

Even more important, the action of the Sales Ops leads to increase the profitability of the company.

In the previous paragraph, we specified that the action will be measured at a constant perimeter. So with the same human resources and the same budgets for acquiring new customers, the company increases its turnover. Mechanically, this leads to more profitable sales, every time!

Increase the satisfaction of your sales teams, but not only!

Sales Ops will help align the vision of all stakeholders (management, teams from different departments), will implement the right tools, the right processes, and will be able to share the results, based on reliable data.

Of course, the teams are satisfied because their daily life is easier and their performance is improved.

You build team loyalty and create a virtuous circle internally.

In a few figures, what is the return on investment of Sales Ops?

According to the study “Revving Up Go-to-Market Operations in B2B” conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, B2B companies with closely aligned sales, marketing, and administration teams experience

  • A 100-200% increase in the ROI from digital marketing campaigns
  • 10-20% increase in sales team productivity
  • A 10% increase in the number of new customers acquired
  • 15-20% increase in internal employee satisfaction

4 - "Sales Operations", how to get started ?

When should we start structuring the Sales Ops function?

Some experts explain that you need 1 Sales Ops Manager for every 10 salespeople in the company.

What about a company with a smaller sales force?

  • First option: get external experts to set up tools, processes and analyses in line with your strategy. Measure the return on investment. Do it again.
  • Second option: identify the right internal person who could take on this responsibility. Train them and include this mission in their job description. 
  • Third option: a mix of the first two. Start with coaching, learn the subject and then get the right person to take it on.

Conclusion

We haven’t finished telling you about Sales Ops. A real “concept” theorized in the United States, it is becoming a key function of the most successful companies. From start-ups to large groups.

We are now preparing additional content on :

  • The key indicators that Sales Ops follow and improve
  • How HIPE is a tool designed for Sales Ops and sales performance improvement

 

Did you like this article? Want to know more?