Would you like to become a sales operations manager? Or are you considering hiring one?
If your sales team needs effective systems to help them be more productive and effective in their roles, it’s likely time to hire a sales operations manager.
For job-seekers, if you are a systems-thinker who enjoys refining and implementing sales processes, you may want to consider taking on a role as a sales operations manager.
So, what key skills and experience should a sales operations manager have? Let's dive in and take a look.
What does a sales operations manager do?
The goal of sales operations is to reduce friction in the sales process, so salespeople are successful in their day-to-day activities. In addition to overseeing sales processes, sales operations managers are often responsible for supervising a team of sales operations specialists.
When a sales organization begins scaling to support a growing company, sales operations becomes a vital function. With more customers and revenue comes more KPIs to track, and more complexity for the way teams sell.
HubSpot Sales Operations Manager Sonia Groff, says the most effective managers have excellent project management and interpersonal skills.
"Sales Ops managers are constantly working on several projects at a time that involve stakeholders across the business: finance teams, strategic teams, HR, etc," Groff explains.
"All of these teams have their own priorities. Sales Operations managers are often tasked with juggling all of these different interests and negotiating among the different teams."
Sales operations managers are responsible for developing and overseeing a smooth, effective sales process to enable the growth of the organizations they support. In other words, sales operations managers and their teams take care of everything reps need to have in place to support their ability to sell.
Here are some of the key skills effective sales operations managers need to have.
Sales Operations Manager Skills
- Business Acumen
- Organizational Skills
- Pipeline Management
- Program Management
- Project Management
- Analytics and Reporting Expertise
- Understanding of CRM and Database Software
- Experience with Financial Systems
- People Management Experience
Leadership and prior sales operations experience are often required for a sales operations manager role. Sales operations managers often report to a VP or director of sales operations. A bachelor's degree is often required, and a higher level of education like a master's degree might be recommended for those applying to senior operations manager positions.
"Understanding how process changes, software implementation, and go-to-market initiatives impact all of the teams that you work with is key to being successful as a sales operations manager," Groff adds
Now that we know what the key skills and qualifications are that are required for the role, let’s review the key responsibilities of a sales operations manager.
Sales Operations Manager Responsibilities
- Oversee the sales funnel.
- Streamlining and optimizing the sales process.
- Selecting, implementing, and managing sales automation tools.
- Manage CRM data.
- Perform sales forecasting.
- Work with sales leadership to develop organizational goals.
- Lead a team of sales operations professionals.
1. Oversee the sales funnel.
The sales operations manager is responsible for making sure contacts are moving through their company’s sales funnel smoothly. The individual in this role should be tracking conversion rates through each stage of the funnel, analyzing pertinent data so they can make sound recommendations for how to improve the funnel’s performance.
Additionally, while managing the sales funnel, the sales operations manager should be privy to any sticking points that could impact sales velocity and should propose and implement solutions for improvement.
2. Streamlining and optimizing the sales process.
Chances are your organization has gone through the necessary exercise of creating a sales process. But when was the last time you ensured the efficacy of your sales process and made improvements? If your team doesn’t have the bandwidth for this, having a sales operations manager on board would be helpful.
A qualified sales operations manager can pinpoint areas of your team’s sales process that could be costing you valuable deals. In addition to identifying these areas of opportunity, a sales operations manager can propose and implement solutions to keep your sales process in top shape.
3. Selecting, implementing, and managing sales automation tools.
Does your sales stack provide your team with the tools and capabilities they need to do their jobs? Is your organization getting the most out of the systems available to you?
Your sales operations manager can ensure your sales team has the tools they need to succeed by evaluating usage and capability of the tools you currently have.
Additionally, a sales ops manager can source and manage the implementation of sales automation systems your team needs in the future.
4. Manage CRM data.
While we are on the topic of your sales stack, let’s discuss your CRM. For most sales teams, the CRM system is the most widely used and significant tool in their stack. However, even with a powerful CRM in place, your team can’t reap the full benefit if your system isn’t optimized for your team.
Having a sales operations manager on board who can manage contact lists, ensure that your CRM data is up to date, audit data for consistency, setup automations, and manage custom fields and data can make a huge difference.
If several reps are working out of your CRM using their own naming conventions, adding duplicate contacts, and creating their own customizations can cause things to get messy, sacrificing efficiency.
When you have a key point of contact who can make sure your most valuable data is up-to-date and consistent, it makes the job of your entire sales organization much easier.
5. Perform sales forecasting.
While your reps may be laser-focused on meeting their individual goals, it is imperative each member of your team understands the broader goals they are all working towards.
Having a sales operations manager on your team who can manage forecasting and data analysis can provide valuable insight into your team’s performance, and what’s needed to continue growing the business.
In addition to forecasting relevant data, your sales operations manager can regularly share this information with your team and stakeholders to maintain alignment on key performance indicators.
6. Work with sales leadership to develop organizational goals.
In addition to forecasting and managing key performance data, sales operations managers can work with their sales leaders to provide data-driven input on future organizational goals.
The sales operations manager can be a point person for relevant data analysis that informs compensation decisions and future sales targets.
7. Lead a team of sales operations professionals.
Depending on the size and complexity of your sales organization, having all of the sales operations responsibilities fall on one person can be a large undertaking.
For large and enterprise organizations, having a team of sales operations analysts may be more appropriate. In this case, the sales operations manager would be tasked with leading this team, and overseeing their activities to ensure the tasks and responsibilities related to sales operations are taken care of.
Ready to bring a sales operations manager onto your team? Here are some resources to support the hiring process.
Sales Operations Manager Salary
In addition to Sales Operation Manager responsibilities, you may be curious about how much they can expect to make. According to Payscale, the average base sales operations manager salary is $81,287.
This number will vary based on your experience and where you live. Additionally, this figure does not include bonuses or commissions. Depending on your experience, base pay can range anywhere from $56,000 for new managers to $122,000 for seasoned managers.
Sales Operations Manager Job Description
The role of a sales operations manager is to identify ways to simplify sales processes, often through automation. Sales operations managers often manage a team of sales operations analysts or specialists.
The sales operations manager typically builds reports that are used by salespeople, sales managers, and leadership to inform decisions based on historical data, present-day results, and future forecasts.
Sales operations manager job descriptions often vary by company or the experience level the company is hiring for. Here are a few additional sales operations manager job description examples.
Sales Operations Manager Job Description Examples
1. Sales Operations Manager Job Description
This sales operations manager job description was created by Hewlett Packard. You can see that the focus of the role is all about increasing team productivity and process management.
2. Senior Sales Operations Manager Job Description
The senior sales operations manager job description was written by ezCater. With this role, the emphasis is on making operational improvements, managing workflows, and providing support to executives.
3. Sales Operation Manager Job Description
This sales operations manager description is from Sciton. Similarly to the Hewlett Packard role, this position focuses on working across multiple teams, tracking metrics, and process management.
4. Sales Operation Specialist Job Description
Not quite ready for a manager position? This sales operation manager specialist description is from HubSpot.
It's important to note that responsibilities for sales operations managers may vary based on the company and industry. However, having strong organizational and interpersonal skills are key to success in this role. To learn more, check out this ultimate guide to strategic planning.
How to Prepare for a Sales Operations Manager Interview
For those seeking a role as a sales operations manager, take time to carefully prepare for the interview process.
One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview of any kind is to anticipate the kind of questions the interviewer will ask, and to have clear, thorough answers demonstrating your capabilities.
Here are a few questions that may be similar to what you’ll hear while interviewing for a sales operations manager role.
Question 1: Tell me about a time you faced resistance when implementing or changing a sales process. What action did you take, and what was the result?
This question is about change management. Sales operations managers are often tasked with implementing and improving processes. While this is ultimately for the better, getting team members on board with new and changing processes can be a common challenge.
If asked a question of this nature, use this as an opportunity to discuss how you support a team navigating a significant change to how they work.
Question 2: As a sales operations manager, you’ve been tasked with identifying bottlenecks in your sales team’s processes. Walk me through how you would identify and mitigate a bottleneck.
This question gives you the opportunity to share your problem-solving skills. As a sales operations manager, the ability to identify and solve for sales inefficiencies is a major part of the job. Take some time to review your work history and come prepared with concrete examples of how you were able to uncover and fix a problem resulting in better sales process efficiency.
Question 3: Tell me about a time you’ve been tasked with processing and analyzing a large amount of data. How did you approach your analysis, and what systems did you use?
Sales operations managers are often tasked with managing large amounts of data. Whether it’s to support their team’s budgeting efforts, or sales results, an effective sales operations manager must be able to read, interpret, and make sound recommendations from relevant data.
Use this question as an opportunity to show off your data analysis skills, and provide solid examples of similar projects you have been tasked with. Don’t forget to explain the actions you took, and the results.
Become a Sales Operations Manager
Sales operations managers are key to running a successful sales operation and enabling your sales team to do its best work. If you're highly organized, have project management experience, and enjoy streamlining work processes, this may be the role for you.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.