Drive Effective Sales Operations Management

Tactical advice and tools to help you drive better sales operations management

Sales operations is growing in importance

Changes in the selling landscape, along with technology advances, require sales operations to elevate its role in shaping sales strategy. 

The evolution of the sales operations function has implications for the structure, size and capabilities of the team. The growing capabilities of analytical and administrative tools can reduce manual work, but increase the importance of building a team deep in technology skills, quantitative aptitude and business acumen. While the needs of all companies are unique, sales and sales operations leaders must consider these broad changes as they make decisions about scoping, structuring and managing their teams.

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    Gartner is able to bring us insights that we wouldn't have had otherwise about broader industry trends and other customers' experience.

    Chris Fris

    Vice President, Global Sales Strategy and Operations, Ryder Systems

    How we address your top sales operations challenges

    Sales operations is undergoing a transformation. Advances in technology and access to big data are pushing complexity deeper into the selling organization. Gartner helps sales operations leaders optimize their function to better meet the needs of the business, identify strategic insights and drive sales performance.

    Sales operations management

    Accelerate the sales operations function toward optimal design for strategic and tactical sales success. Design decisions should account for a changing selling landscape as well as specific company circumstances.

    On average sales leaders report a 2.3x increase in the size of their sales teams' portfolio
    A chart showing incentivizing dedicated sales specialists

    Sales compensation design and management

    Leading sales compensation plans create a strategic advantage for the business by leveraging data-driven insights to incent specific seller behaviors that will advance sales strategy. Gartner can help you build strategically effective sales compensation programs that attract, engage and reward sellers for their impact on performance. 

    A chart showing incentivizing dedicated sales specialists

    Sales analytics

    Sales leaders are regularly expected to increase revenue while managing costs, and now more than ever they are turning to sales operations to help with these tasks. Sales operations can leverage the mountain of available data to help sales leaders make data-based decisions that improve the effectiveness of everything from sales force design and development to sales compensation, sales process and systems, and sales analytics and intelligence.

    Four conditions or improving analytics capability: tactical capabilities of tools, quality of data, technical skill set of analytics, efficacy of organizational structure

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    Sales operations management & strategy questions Gartner can help answer

    As the name suggests, sales operations is the operationalization of a company’s sales force. To do this, much like marketing operations and business operations, sales operations leaders must identify and design solutions for business activities and processes that enable sales organizations.

    As with other business unit operations, sales operations outlines the roles, responsibilities, processes, technology and executive input required to enable the sales organization to function efficiently. 

    For a sales operations strategy to be successful, it must identify key gaps in talent, tools, technology and processes and deliver a strategy to the sales organization/enablement leader to bridge those gaps. This must be done with buy-in from decision makers in the C-suite, as often sales force sizes are reduced if teams aren’t increasing profits through successful sales strategies.

    Working in close tandem with sales organization/enablement teams to gain oversight on the existing processes, talent, sales techniques and available tools is required to find efficiencies and improvements. 

    Sales operations leaders should focus on three main things:

    1. Diagnose current state: Review, assess and map the existing sales organization, including talent, resources, technology, collateral, etc.
    2. Develop a strategy: Optimize sales enablement strategy to equip the sales force with the collateral, tools and technologies needed to sell more effectively and efficiently.
    3. Execute and drive change: Implement more efficient processes, talent, technology and techniques for enhanced efficiencies and continually drive business conversations around the importance of an optimized sales operation.

    Gartner has the tools and research available to help your business transform its sales function into a high performing sales operations-led success. Ask us how.

    Sales operations leaders must recognize and respond to the forces disrupting their workforce, from generational shifts to emerging technologies. Gen Z represents a new opportunity for sales operations leaders, as it is the first truly digitally native generation. Members of this group don’t just appreciate a connected world: They expect it. Sales operations leaders must prepare to welcome this new generation by examining their team culture and their technology priorities. Failing to adjust for this incoming demographic puts sales operations leaders at risk of missing out on top talent.

    Gen Z prioritizes developing skills and gaining experiences. Leaders should embrace these priorities and have them influence the employee value proposition. Specifically, they should:

    • Ensure these priorities are included in entry-level job descriptions.
    • Maintain open lines of collaboration and communication.
    • Understand the desired skills and experiences that are most valued.
    • Allocate budget for continued learning and development.
    • Design career paths with incremental steps that better illustrate career progression.

    Being flexible to the sales market is crucial in a successful sales operations leader. Changes in buying behavior have reduced the effectiveness of traditional sales techniques, forcing sales leaders to reexamine current strategies. Sales leaders who don’t consider changing trends in buying dynamics will see wasted investments, overlooked critical initiatives and limited performance gains.

    The people and skills needed for sales operations to be productive are continually changing, and sales operations leaders must recognize that the team they built for today will need to evolve to be successful over the next few years. 

    Technology has been a big disruptor to the skills needed in sales operations. As an example, some sales leaders have invested in pseudo programmers to improve data extraction. However, technical advances in platform integration and data transformation have automated — or at least streamlined — many of these functions. The burden has shifted from technical data manipulation to drawing insights with data science.

    Sales operations leaders — along with key stakeholders, including sales operations managers — will need to catalog the critical skills needed for future success, assess current availability and create a plan to remediate gaps.


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