What is a Sales operations manager: definition and key responsibilities

Once your business crosses the line of a small company and turns into a medium-sized one, all internal processes would require restructuring, including sales. Instead of unexpected deals with accidental clients, you will need to have a system, and sales operations managers are the ones who build it. 

Who is a sales operations manager?

For most businesses, selling is a long-drawn-out process. A deal takes time, human resources, and requires coming up with and supporting a clear strategy, choosing the right technology, and setting performance tracking metrics.

Each of the above 4 categories has a specific scope of duties, and there should be one or several employees within an organization in charge of them — sales operations managers. They take responsibility for planning, forecasting, ongoing administering, overseeing, and reporting on the sales process and sales results.

Key responsibilities of a sales operations manager

Depending on the company, industry, or seniority level, sales ops’ responsibilities can vary. A single employee is rarely able to have control over the strategy, technology, performance, and support at once. This is why operations-related functions are usually distributed among the team:

  • Data analysts
  • Researchers
  • CRM-managers
  • Technical support, and others.

As such, a sales operations manager becomes a control panel, supervising a team of sales operations specialists. 

Still, if an organization is small or has limited resources, it may seek an all-in-one employee with the following responsibilities:

  1. Working with CRM and customer databases, creating dashboards, monitoring proposals and pricing, creating contract templates.
  2. Conducting competitive and market research, profiling buyer personas or ICPs, cooperating with the marketing team to test sales hypotheses.
  3. Developing standard business processes and documents by communicating with customers and internal stakeholders, identifying opportunities, discussing them with the C-level board, staffing.
  4. Cooperating with the finance team, making accurate sales predictions through working with big data, insights, and statistics.
  5. Preparing custom reports, briefs, and summaries, providing on-demand analytical support.

Skills needed to be a good sales ops manager

Successful sales operations managers have the right blend of personal traits. Although organization and control take up a lot of their time, these employees are not administrators alone. 

Their no less important task is to develop a sales course of action. Thus, the sales ops manager should be a logician, mathematician, and, at the same time, a little bit of a psychologist, mentor, and seer.

TOP-6 soft skills of powerful sales ops include:

1. Businesslike mindset

To come up with solutions that work, sales operations managers shouldn’t be accidental observers of market tendencies, novelties, or changes in buyer behavior. They must look at the maelstrom of news from the inside and have an entrepreneurial streak. 

In this case, they can propose sales optimization schemes and quickly respond to or even anticipate external impulses that may affect or harm the company’s operations.

2. Analytical thinking

Apart from foresight, sales operations managers should excel in calculations and modeling, and be ready to identify a causal link between facts that they get.

3. A systematic approach to solving challenges

Effective managers stay thoroughgoing in whatever they do: from strategy development to organizing ones’ routines. No matter how clever and bright the personality is, without SMART goals, a step-by-step route towards achieving them, and clear requirements for subordinates, well-run operations are impossible.  

4. Communication & interpersonal skills

The sales ops manager continually tries to find a balance between ambitious objectives, on the one hand, and limited human resources, on the other. This daunting task requires sophisticated negotiation skills and the ability to compromise, manage conflicts, and know when to demonstrate persistence and when — flexibility.

5. Time & project management skills

Overtimes, neverending rush, and “ready-for-the-yesterday” tasks are the first symptoms of an underdeveloped leadership. Good sales ops know how to plan backlog, distribute tasks, and guide their execution.

6. Ability to work under the pressure

Occasionally, things go wrong: organizational changes, professionals leaving the team, and promising deals dropping off. A real manager can take control over changes and not lose composure.

Apart from attributes and personality traits, good sales operations managers need to have remarkable hard skills, in particular:

  • Know how to work with data aggregators — CRMs and BI software, like Tableau or SAS, are a must for true professionals.
  • Be proficient with MS Excel, Access, Google Spreadsheet, SQL, and other tools for data organization.
  • Have experience in modeling and forecasting, etc.

Sales operations manager job description

First, refer to job posting sites, like Workana or Indeed, and check out both job seekers’ CVs and vacancies posted by TOP companies. 

Then make a digest: what is required from sales operations managers, how many people are there on the labor market, who fits your ideal profile 100%, and what salary is just right.

Below are a few requirements you may give thought to:

  • Bachelor’s (at least) degree in Economics
  • Minimum 5 years of experience working with CRMs, like Pipedrive
  • Strong technical background, including MS Office Suite
  • Advanced skills and experience using data visualization tools such as Power BI, Tableau, or OBIEE, etc.

If you seek a C-level manager, you may want them to also have:

  • MBA degree
  • Previous experience managing teams of 5-10+ people
  • Programming skills to work with data
  • Experience using Blue Yonder or other supply chain management software, etc.

No matter how long you look for sales operations managers or how expensive they turn out to be, true specialists will pay off your efforts and costs. Good sales ops know how to build the sales process from scratch, respond to market challenges, and scale up sales operations so that your business remains wholesome.

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