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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.
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.
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
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.
There isn’t a standard, but organization size has the greatest influence on the reporting structure of sales ops. In many organizations, especially larger enterprises, sales ops is likely to report to the sales VP/SVP. In smaller organizations, it’s more common to see sales ops report to business operations leaders like the CFO or CEO. While the teams are small, the sales ops function is almost entirely dedicated to internal reporting, analysis, and helping with compensation, but as teams scale sales ops is more likely to add functions dedicated to sales deal support and pricing/proposal development. At the end of the day, the sales leader has to own the number and needs a strong sales ops function to help create a clear plan for what’s probably, and what’s possible, so the organization can build strategic plans.
Here is a rough guide for how and when to scale your sales ops organization:
Sales team size 25-50
3-5 dedicated resources
Focused primarily on sales forecasting
CRM/Sales process implementation
Sales team size 50-100
Performance process (incentive structures, gamification)
Sales team size 100+
Sales ops leader
Performance process (incentive structures, gamification)
Team level performance reporting
These are rough guides and how they apply to each unique team will be largely based on the experience of the sales ops team and sales leadership. The more experienced they are in building a sales org, the more autonomous each can function and ops can act as a connector between the sales leader and finance. Regardless, in a well functioning organization sales ops and sales leadership should be connected at the hip.
CEO and Managing Partner Creatio
The last 17 years have been an incredible journey for our team at bpm’online. When we started the company, it was just a handful of young graduates with big dreams, ready to work hard to achieve them.
Over the years, we have experienced lots of ups and downs of growing and running a business. However, there has always been one thing that inspired us: the powerful, unique solutions created on the bpm’online platform by our community of partners and customers, many of whom I am proud to call friends.
Our customers and partners use bpm’online platform and CRM solutions to bring business ideas to life through automation. Solutions that they create reflect unique differentiation of their companies, these solutions are their own creations. It is in the DNA of our customers and partners to generate ideas, create, and to change the status quo. And we’re thrilled to honor and support the creators in each of them!
With that, I am very excited to share the news… Our company has changed its corporate and product names to Creatio!
The new name reflects our strong belief that everyone will become a developer, able to automate ideas and create custom solutions in minutes. We call these solutions “creatios.”
We have rolled out the Creatio renaming on October 30, 2019. I hope you’ll enjoy a recording of an online launch event at creatio.com/new-watch
While our name is changing, the strategy, products, our team and commitment to empowering our users with the best low-code / no-code BPM platform and sophisticated CRM products remain the same. The new name only reinforces our vision of creating a world where any business idea can be automated in minutes.
Please visit our FAQ page for more information on the renaming process. As always, I'd appreciate your feedback and I'm happy to answer any questions.
CEO and Managing Partner