Scaling your sales organization requires more than reps and leaders. A critical and sometimes misunderstood function of high growth sales teams is the operations function. There is no one-size-fits-all playbook, but this post can help you think through the key factors in growing and building your sales ops team.

Variables to consider

Every business must consider different variables that may change how and when you add sales operations. Global or highly distributed teams may require more operational support sooner. Hypergrowth organizations trying to scale sales aggressively may want to consider investing in sales operations sooner, and investing in the reporting/forecasting component of sales ops.  Simple products may require less training resources. However, a good rule of thumb is if you have at least 10+ sales reps, it’s time to think about operations.

What is sales operations?

Sales operations, or “Sales Ops” to which it’s most commonly referred, is typically made up of a set of functions designed to help with the back-office functions of the sales organizations. This most often includes roles like:

  • Sales process management

  • CRM Implementation management

  • Sales tool development

  • Reporting (monthly/quarterly), Forecasting, Quota attainment

  • Pricing/Discounting governance

When should you think about building sales ops?

As soon as sales leaders start a formal forecasting process and need more experienced data analysis, it’s a good time to start having dedicated sales ops headcount. For a while, and with only a few reps you can survive being opportunistic but once you get to 10 or more reps, it’s time to start being more strategic and leveraging advanced analytics to forecast and plan. The super power of the average sales leader is not statistical modeling and analytics – they should optimize around working on critical deals and large customers, not building spreadsheets and pivot tables for the CFO. 50%-70% of a sales leader’s time should be spent engaging the sales team and improving performance, especially with a team under 50. As the team starts to grow and you have managers/directors to engage with reps directly, a sales leader can start focusing more on planning for scale and using data driven, repeatable models for sales growth.

Regardless, in a well functioning organization sales ops and sales leadership should be connected at the hip.

Matt Tharp's picture