Power up sales operations and elevate your team’s performance

Tristan Ovington
By Tristan Ovington
Updated May 22, 2024

If you ever feel like you’re missing a top-down of sales that allows you to streamline processes, trust us, you need to consider sales operations. 

Sales operations are like a bird’ s-eye view of how your sales funnel functions, what works, and what doesn’t. They allow you to take a more streamlined operational approach to processes for every enterprise sales task. Using sales operations means happier staff, more sales, and higher revenue. 

82% of sales reps say they have had to adapt to new ways of selling, showing a potential increase of new sales approaches brought in by sales ops teams

82% of sales reps say they have had to adapt to new ways of selling, showing a potential increase of new sales approaches brought in by sales ops team (1)

You need a guide to sales operations to guide you through every aspect, right? A definition would be great, as would a description of how sales ops differ from sales enablement, the roles and responsibilities of the sales ops teams, and how to run this team successfully. 

Well, you’re in luck. Read below to find out everything you need to know! Higher revenue and sales figures await. 

What are sales operations?

Sales operations help sales teams run smoothly. It involves tasks like planning territories, managing deals, and analyzing data. A dedicated team or individuals handle these behind-the-scenes functions, freeing up salespeople to focus on closing deals. It boosts efficiency and helps businesses achieve their sales goals.

Sales ops vs. sales enablement

Sales enablement and sales ops, aiming to boost sales, need clear roles to avoid confusion. While definitions vary, sales enablement focuses on equipping salespeople for effective customer interactions throughout the sales cycle. Sales operations, on the other hand, might take over during the negotiation and closing stages. Collaboration between these teams is crucial for sales success.

The following examples show the typical division of responsibilities.

Sales Enablement

Sales enablement equips salespeople with tools, training, and knowledge to confidently convert leads. It empowers them to close deals faster by streamlining the process and addressing customer needs effectively.

These are the features of sales enablement:

  • Empowering sales teams: Equip sales staff with in-depth product knowledge and efficient sales processes.
  • Streamlining sales operations: Optimize sales workflows to ensure a smooth customer journey.
  • Unlocking sales insights: Analyze and report sales data for actionable business intelligence.
  • Building sales communication bridges: Foster clear and consistent communication with the sales team.
  • Driving customer engagement: Provide sales staff with the tools and analysis to build strong customer relationships.

These sales enablement features are part of the sales funnel but differ from sales operations, as you will see below. 

Sales Operations

Sales operations smooth the sales journey. They optimize workflows, provide data for smart decisions, and equip sales reps with the resources to win deals.

These are the features of sales operations:

  • Optimizing sales territories: Strategically define and assign targeted accounts for maximum coverage and impact.
  • Guiding deals through closing: Oversee proposal creation, contract negotiation, and successful deal closure.
  • Motivating peak performance: Design and administer sales compensation plans and incentive programs to drive results.
  • Predicting sales success: Develop accurate sales forecasts and insightful reports to guide strategic decision-making.
  • Harnessing customer data: Manage the CRM system and leverage data to optimize sales operations and gain customer insights.

Note the differences between sales enablement, which sets up sales and ensures strong customer relationships, and sales operations, which provide a streamlined sales process. Knowing the difference between these two different aspects of sales can ensure success as you can improve each one separately and hire the right staff for the correct department. 

How does sales operations work?

Success in sales operations relies on dedicated teams fulfilling various functions. These include strategic planning, data analysis, recruiting and training salespeople, forecasting sales, defining sales territories, and optimizing the sales process.

  • Strategy.
  • Technology.
  • Operations.
  • Performance.

Let’s consider each of the functions of the sales operations team.


Sales operations act as the architect, crafting a long-term vision for the sales team. They don’t just dream big. They translate that vision into actionable strategies that propel the team towards achieving their goals. 

A few of their strategic functions might include:

  • Data analysis.
  • Sales forecasting.
  • Sales process optimization.
  • Sales coverage model and territory planning.
  • Sales technology and methodology evaluation.
  • High-level planning and goal setting.


The sales technology landscape has exploded recently, offering a wealth of data and tools to boost sales. However, this abundance can also create a cluttered environment for sales reps, who waste valuable selling time managing various platforms. 

Enter sales operations: the heroes who take the reins on the sales tech stack for a better data-driven approach to decisions. 

Sales ops technologies streamline processes, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience that empowers reps to focus on what they do best – closing deals.

A few ways they achieve these vital functions are:

  • Task automation.
  • Adoption and customization of a CRM (customer relationship management).
  • Communications management.
  • Data management and reporting.
  • Integration of apps and tools.

These technologies help your sales operations team get the most out of every sale by optimizing every task, saving time and money. 


A well-oiled sales machine requires more than just salespeople. Sales operations are the support crew, handling administrative burdens and streamlining processes. 

Sales ops teams train, recruit top talent, and manage sales knowledge by analyzing data and optimizing workflows. This team ensures reps have the skills and information to dominate the sales floor.

Operational responsibilities and tasks include

  • Contracts and SLAs.
  • Product training.
  • KB management.
  • Market intelligence support.
  • Sales training.
  • Hiring and onboarding top talent.


Sales operations teams play a critical role in boosting rep efficiency. They continuously identify and remove obstacles that hinder sales activities. Their core function is to streamline processes, creating a smooth sales experience that maximizes employee productivity and overall performance.

Depending on their organizational goals, sales ops teams will focus on the following performance priorities:

  • Identifying KPIs and sales metrics.
  • Lead management.
  • Compensation and incentive plans.
  • Implementation of sales methodologies and best practices.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the sales operations team?

Sales operations are a team effort. Every role within the structure plays a unique and vital part. This collaborative approach ensures efficient sales processes, ultimately driving increased revenue and securing successful deals. 

Let’s look at each role in the sales team, beginning with the sales operations representative. 

Sales operations representative

A Sales ops rep is an entry-level role that allows sales staff to begin their careers in sales operations. Ideal candidates have 0-2 years of experience, a keen eye for detail, technical skills, strong communication, and a willingness to learn marketing and sales automation tools.

Sales operations analyst

Sales operations analysts are the data detectives of sales ops. They analyze data, identify sales roadblocks, and craft solutions to keep the revenue engine running smoothly. There are two tiers to sales operations analysts, requiring different levels of experience: analysts and senior analysts. 

Analyst (3+ years experience)

This role requires collaboration across departments (product, marketing, etc.). They need strong problem-solving skills, a proactive approach, and experience handling data (modeling, mining, quality). Proficiency in Excel and business intelligence tools is a plus, as these skills will help them become a senior analyst.

Senior Analyst (4+ years experience)

Senior analysts lead the team with expertise in CRMs, BI (business intelligence) platforms, data modeling, and Excel. Excellent interpersonal and leadership skills are crucial as they partner with sales executives.

Manager of sales operations

Sales Operations Managers are the captains of the sales ops ship! Leading a team requires leadership chops and deep sales ops knowledge (5+ years of experience).  

They understand what makes sales tick – methodologies, behaviors, and processes – and are data whizzes with skills in modeling and analytics.

VP of sales operations (or senior director of sales operations)

The VP of Sales Operations steers the entire sales team, managing staff and collaborating closely with senior leadership.  

This seasoned professional brings 10+ years of experience in sales enablement and a proven track record in leadership roles.  An MBA or a technical Master’s degree typically proves their impressive credentials.

But the expertise goes beyond leadership. They’re a data guru, fluent in CRMs and sales automation tools, and can build complex models using spreadsheets and databases.  And don’t forget – clear communication and presentation skills are necessary for winning over stakeholders.

By prioritizing these qualities, you’ll build a strong sales operations team that delivers long-term value and drives real impact.

How do you run a successful sales operations team?

Building a high-performing sales operations team requires a strategic approach. It requires an understanding of the key elements that contribute to successful sales. 

You must delve into team structure, define clear responsibilities, effectively leverage data, and foster collaboration across departments. By implementing these best practices, you can empower your sales operations team to drive significant results.

Build a formal mission statement

Empower your salesforce through strategic initiatives, data-driven insights, and optimized processes. Your sales operations team must strive to continuously improve the sales organization’s efficiency and effectiveness. 

Their goal is to drive superior sales performance and achieve sustainable revenue growth.

This mission statement emphasizes the key aspects of sales operations:

  • Supporting sales reps: Empowering the salesforce through various means.
  • Data-driven approach: Using data to guide decision-making and process improvement.
  • Efficiency and effectiveness: Streamlining workflows and maximizing sales team output.
  • Revenue growth:  Ultimately contributing to the company’s financial success.

Define your best practices and scalable processes

A core function of the sales operations team is managing and scaling processes. This team establishes itself as the central hub for best practices and standardized procedures across all sales activities and materials. 

This process ensures consistency throughout the organization. By streamlining workflows and maintaining clear documentation in a central location, everyone stays on the same page and consistently applies best practices. 

This part of the process improves overall efficiency. For successful implementation, clear communication of these standards and processes is crucial, and the most effective channels must be utilized to ensure smooth transitions whenever updates occur.

Clearly define all sales enablement and sales ops responsibilities

While sales operations and enablement aim to boost sales performance, their methods diverge. 

Defining distinct areas of ownership for each team prevents duplication and miscommunication. 

You can split areas into different sales elements, beginning with each team member’s focus on how they approach securing a sale. 


Sales Ops focuses on the “how” of the sales process – optimizing workflows, managing data, and ensuring smooth execution. Sales Enablement focuses on the “what” and “why” – equipping reps with the right tools, training, and content to effectively engage with prospects.


Sales Ops might handle tasks like territory design, sales forecasting, and CRM management. Sales Enablement might focus on building sales playbooks, conducting sales training, and creating sales collateral tailored to different buyer personas.


Sales Ops tracks metrics like sales cycle length, conversion rates, and quota attainment. Sales Enablement might track metrics like content engagement, rep certification rates, and the impact of training programs on sales performance.


Sales Ops often works closely with sales leadership and executives, focusing on big-picture strategy and process improvement. Sales Enablement interacts more frequently with sales reps, providing coaching, resources, and ongoing support.

Tools & technology

Sales Ops leverages tools for sales automation, data analysis, and forecasting. Sales Enablement utilizes tools for content management, learning management systems, and sales communication platforms.

This clarity empowers every team member to operate efficiently and collaborate effectively, ultimately supporting the entire sales organization as a unified force.

Prioritize customer retention and satisfaction

Sales operations go beyond just lead generation; they’re champions for customer retention, too. Their deep understanding of the customer base, backed by data and research, empowers them to elevate sales training. 

They equip reps to handle complex negotiations, navigate pricing discussions, and drive post-sale success.  

While customer satisfaction remains a core responsibility of a sales rep, sales operations step in as a valuable support system. They share crucial customer insights and information, enabling reps to build stronger, long-term relationships.

Cross-departmental collaboration

Success in sales operations hinges on collaboration. By working closely with other departments, such as sales enablement and marketing, sales ops gain valuable insights into rep needs and broader sales goals. 

This cross-functional team approach ensures initiatives align with overall strategy, avoiding duplication of effort and maximizing impact on sales performance.

Regular check-ins with sales enablement, marketing, and sales reps ensure efforts are focused and avoid duplication. Weekly or bi-weekly leadership meetings keep all teams aligned and working towards shared goals.

What are the benefits of sales operations?

While the salesperson is the driver closing deals, sales ops are the pit crew. This dedicated team operates behind the scenes, ensuring the sales engine runs smoothly and efficiently to achieve peak performance.

Revenue on track

Sales Operations acts as the crystal ball for sales teams. They manage the “sales pipeline,” tracking potential customers and using data to forecast future revenue. This foresight allows businesses to make strategic decisions and allocate resources efficiently. Without Sales Ops, revenue forecasting becomes a guessing game, limiting a company’s ability to grow.

Faster and stronger

Research reveals that companies that analyze individual sales pipelines see impressive growth. Sales Operations (Sales Ops) takes the reins on pipeline management. Imagine leaving this crucial growth engine untapped – that’s the risk without a dedicated Sales Ops team.

Data-driven decisions

Sales Ops isn’t just about predicting revenue. They’re data detectives, analyzing everything – team performance, sales funnel effectiveness, and individual rep data. This approach translates to data-driven decisions for leadership, a clear advantage absent a dedicated Sales Ops team.

Adapting to growth

Scaling a sales team can be a bumpy ride. Sales Operations (Sales Ops) acts as the shock absorber. 

They implement and maintain a standardized sales process, ensuring consistency and efficiency as the team grows. This reduces onboarding time for new reps, minimizes confusion, and empowers everyone to contribute effectively to the sales engine.

Nurturing new talent

Sales Operations doesn’t just optimize processes. They’re masters of the sales landscape. Their deep understanding of the customer journey and sales mechanics makes them talent scouts. They screen applicants, train new hires on the sales process, and equip them with market knowledge – ensuring new reps hit the ground running.

It is essential to consider the above benefits of sales ops. Does your sales ops team see these benefits? If not, it may be worth reviewing approaches to processes. 

What are the challenges of sales operations?

the challenges of sales operations (1)

While sales operations play a vital role in propelling sales success, they are not without their hurdles. Let’s delve into some critical challenges sales operations face in today’s dynamic sales landscape, starting with aligning sales ops and goals. 

Sales ops & sales goals alignment

A crucial yet challenging task for Sales Operations is seamlessly aligning their efforts with the overall sales strategy and goals. They act as a translator, deciphering the organization’s vision and mission for the sales team and turning them into actionable, measurable plans.

Effective communication and collaboration are key. Sales Ops needs to be in constant dialogue with sales leaders and reps, ensuring everyone’s on the same page and has clear expectations. Techniques like sales coaching come into play here. 

This process involves asking open-ended questions to understand sales needs, actively listening to feedback, and setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals that bridge the gap between strategy and execution.

Maintaining data accuracy and quality

Sales Ops also faces the hurdle of ensuring data integrity and accuracy.  This data is their lifeblood, used to measure performance, spot trends, forecast, and optimize processes.  However, human error, system glitches, or inconsistent practices can pollute the data.  

Sales Ops combats this by setting data standards, training the sales team, regularly auditing the data, and using clear visuals to tell the data’s story.

Optimizing the sales toolkit

Choosing and integrating the right sales tech can be a hurdle. While it automates tasks, streamlines workflows, and offers insights, the options can be overwhelming. 

Sales ops tackle this by involving the team, assessing needs, and prioritizing user adoption through training and support. They ensure compatibility, security, and a happy, tech-powered sales force.

Navigating change and innovation

Sales Ops thrives in a dynamic environment, but adapting to evolving customer needs, markets, and priorities requires agility. Fostering innovation to improve sales performance also demands embracing change.  

Overcoming resistance, balancing stability with flexibility, and validating new ideas can be hurdles. 

Sales Ops uses sales coaching techniques here: building a shared vision, fostering trust, encouraging experimentation, and celebrating both wins and learnings to navigate these rapids and propel the sales force forward.

Defining the sales ops role

Sales Ops wear many hats, but a lack of clarity can lead to overlap or missed opportunities, as well as unclear career advancement. 

Sales Ops tackles this by using sales coaching techniques: defining their role and value, setting career goals, seeking mentorship, and actively pursuing learning and development opportunities. This ensures a well-oiled sales ops team, positioned for success with a clear path forward.

Take a systematic approach when building a sales ops team

Sales ops offer a bird ‘ s-eye view of how your sales departments function, allowing you to review every process. This review process facilitates streamlined workflows for better employee experience and higher revenue.

To optimize your sales ops team, you must first understand how the team works. Next, you must hire all the right people, such as sales ops reps, analysts, and senior managers. Finally, you must understand all the responsibilities of every team member. 
When you follow this systematic approach, you will receive the reward of an efficient sales ops team, higher sales, better employee retention, and revenue that travels through the roof.

Tristan Ovington
By Tristan Ovington
Tristan Ovington, an accomplished senior writer and journalist, typically contributes his expertise to the Enterprisers Project. Renowned for his valuable perspectives on digital adoption, digital transformation, change management, and Cloud applications.