sales_opsIndustry experts are talking about Sales Operations. Kellogg’s School of Management Professor Emeritus, Andris A. Zoltners, says “sales operations or ‘sales ops’ has become widely accepted as essential for effective sales management.” Seattle-based agency Heinz Marketing says “Sales operations may very well be THE most important and unsung hero for sales teams.”

Why has sales ops become so critical in the eyes of so many?

Much of it lies in the growing importance of technology enablement. Sales teams today rely on many types of technology solutions to provide data analytics, mobile capabilities and lead management. Sales ops professionals are charged with spearheading and supporting these types of initiatives.

But that’s not where their responsibilities stop. They are still burdened with traditional operational tasks like reporting, contract support, and administrative functions. Their job description has become so varied that Zoltners astutely poses the question, “Can one person really handle all this?”

The obvious answer is no. So what to do? Sales ops managers must hire and develop a team of people with both varied and specialized skill sets. The jobs they do as well as their ultimate career paths will be fundamentally different. Managers should also look to outsourced resources to fill in missing competencies.

Ultimately, the key to keeping this diversely talented group in sync is leadership. Scott Shimamoto, Principals at ZS Associates, says, “The best sales ops teams have a clearly articulated mission statement.” Sales operations leaders must create a clear road map for success.

What should be included in that road map? For a great overview, we recommend Selling Power Magazine’s recent article, “Understanding the Role of Sales Operations“.