What are the traits of effective sales ops leaders?

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VP of WW Sales Operations & Development, 501 - 1,000 employees
The best advice I can give to anyone leading a sales ops team, is that when you're doing your resource planning for your sales ops team, try to help finance and sales leadership understand that your team should be tied to the complexity of your internal company and your go-to market motion, rather than just functioning as a pure headcount ratio of sales to sales ops heads. If I look back over my career, that's where I've run into the most challenges: when the sales ops team becomes so undersized, and so strained, that we can no longer provide best of class service to the sales organization.
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VP, WW Sales Operations, 501 - 1,000 employees

I've run into that as well, where people think, “oh, sales ops is just the fixed percentage ratio of head count.” You're 3%, 5%, 7% of sales headcount, that's what you get. When in reality, in some cases it can be a lot less (you're running a pretty simple organization, and you're just scaling, you don't have a lot of complexities) while in others it can be significantly more depending on what sits in sales ops (commissions and compensation administration, quote to cash, the quote tool, the whole order administration function, deal desk, etc). It's not just the fixed ratio, but also really depends on what's in your purview and the operational complexity within the business.

Sr Director Bus Ops & SW Transformation in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees

And the level of automation drives a lot of that as well, right? The level of automation and the ecosystem around you. There's so many factors. I've run into that challenge as well. It's not a simple percentage of revenue, or percentage of sales headcount, calculation, it can get a lot more complex. It's not traditional sales operations anymore. There's so many different components that are getting added for all the right reasons. I think something that we all struggle with as leaders is how do you actually build a model to appropriately scale your sales operations organization?

Senior Director, Sales and Channel Operations, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
When people are new to sales ops, I'm okay that they don't necessarily know anything about sales operations, because it's more about having the right attitude, and the aptitude to want to learn. And what I always just tell folks is as long as you're ambitious, and you're hungry to learn, and willing to get your hands dirty… Especially because sales ops is typically a small team with a load of stuff to do. And you just need to be open to wearing multiple hats. If you want to wear one hat and just go super deep, then you're probably better off in a big old company, and you just do the same thing every day. But that's not usually the people I'm looking to hire. So when they're looking to understand what it takes to do sales ops, and what it's all about, that's kind of what I tell them: you'll learn it (comp, systems, Salesforce, etc), but it's more about the attitude.
VP, WW Sales Operations, 501 - 1,000 employees
Sales ops is very multifaceted. It's not just the same job over and over again. You've got to be really flexible, and you've got to have an innate curiosity about the business as a whole and each of the individual business functions that sales ops interacts with. You're also going to want to think about yourself as being someone that supports other people's success. So from a mindset perspective, it's all about, “hey, how do I make everyone else better at their jobs, save them time, make their lives easier, and make them more effective.” 

And then from a more tactical standpoint, I find a lot of people try to get into sales ops and don't take the time to learn some of the core ins-and-outs or the foundational tools that sales ops gets built around. Salesforce is a perfect example. I'm a VP of sales operations, and I can get in and administer Salesforce from scratch (deploy it, build it out, do workflow rules, reporting and analytics, build dashboards). I can't do some of the more coding stuff, but I'm really, really hands-on.

And so the advice I find myself giving SDRs, or other people who want to get into sales ops is, hey, you've got to have these innate personality characteristics, but you've also got to take a really hands on approach towards learning some of these foundational tools. Because sales ops is building a platform, or a foundation for business operations around the CRM tool that you're on and then plugging in a bunch of other tools. You've got to have the technical chops to know what makes sense, and what doesn't.
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Sr Director Bus Ops & SW Transformation in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees

I love the “being of value.” I think you've hit upon a very important trait. Folks that are really successful at sales ops are the ones that have that mindset: how do you make the lives of others around you easier?

VP, WW Sales Operations, 501 - 1,000 employees

I've got this sales operations matrix, a circle that includes four components: tools and technology, process and policy, analytics and reporting, and then support and enablement. I walk everyone through it and say, "Look, if you're going to build a career in sales ops, you're going to need to be thinking about these four different quadrants of how you're going to support the organization, and they all interplay with one another."

Head of Sales Operations, 201 - 500 employees
There are a couple of “ traps” which I have to keep reminding myself of. It's very easy to get buried under day-to-day transactional things (e.g., somebody is asking for help, you need to keep systems up and running, there's something not working, the commissions need to be worked). It's very easy to overlook the strategic side of the role. You have to really be deliberate about also being strategic and spending time to make sure that you have a seat at the table when the strategic questions are discussed, so that you can drive the discussion to a great extent. I also find it very easy to get into a trap of just living in the current quarter. We always have numbers to hit, deals to close. Everybody's rallying around closing the current quarter, but you have to stop and really think about...well, what's going to happen two quarters from now? What's going to happen four quarters from now? And if not sales ops, I don't think any other function will force that thinking. I find that it doesn't come naturally, so I have to be really deliberate about it.
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VP, WW Sales Operations, 501 - 1,000 employees

One of the things I train my directors to do is  say “no” more often to some of the immediate fire drills, so we can think about how we can build a long-term foundation. Because if you get caught up in all the immediate day-to-day stuff, and you're running around just putting out fires all the time, you end up not devoting enough energy and effort towards fixing the root causes of those problems. Without that, you can’t build a more scalable organization. For example, I came into a new company and inherited deal desk, and I had 10 reps calling me to ask for deal desk advice. I said, "I'm just not going to do it for you." Our CFO and some of the reps got concerned about it, but instead I focused a lot of energy on fixing the foundational issues that were broken in our CPQ deployment. And all of a sudden those deal desk issues started going away. If I would have just focused on helping the reps, we would have never been able to dig ourselves out of that hole.

Head of Sales Operations, 201 - 500 employees

I think I read a statement once that a lot of the job in the operations role is about saying no. You have to say no to many things in order to deliver something of a strategic nature.

Sr Director Bus Ops & SW Transformation in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees

"Say no to even the good in order to make space for the great." One of the things I have struggled with is the first part that you brought up, Imran: how do you balance the strategic and the operational?

CIO in Energy and Utilities, 11 - 50 employees
Following-up, delegate effectively, couching, teamplayer... internally to sales dept and also for operations and finance departments

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