How to Measure Success in Sales Operations

6 min read

Sales operations is in a state of evolution. As it adapts and finds its feet, a key question is: how do we measure success in this role and how is the sales operations department held accountable?

We asked sales operations leaders how they measure success in their roles.

How Brandon Bussey measures success in sales operations

Brandon Bussey, Director of Revenue Operations, Lucid

With my team, we measure sales operations success with four overarching goals. One of the goals is to increase the total amount of bookings. This is important because we have an aggressive growth target, so we need to make sure our goals are aligned with that.

The second goal is increasing average bookings per rep across the board. I’ve seen companies that increase the overall number of bookings but it’s a ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer’ situation, which is not success.

The third goal is transparency and visibility upward into our executive team. Our exec team doesn’t have a traditional sales background so a lot of it is educating them and showing them the key metrics. It’s about providing better transparency and visibility upwards and across the wider organisation too.

The last goal is creating a vibrant culture in the orgs that we support. There are a lot of ways we can influence culture. One is how people are paid and how they’re motivated. This is an area where we can have a huge impact. People want to feel successful.

One of Lucid‘s founders came from Google and a lot of our culture has come from the Google model, a key example being OKRs (objectives and key results). Every quarter, we look at what our objectives are and the results that define those. As we’re studying our OKRs, we make sure they impact each of those four metrics, although culture and transparency are not as quantifiable.

One of our objectives is to create an overarching efficient book or territory strategy. And so, our key result was to deliver the timeline and training. Then from a metrics standpoint, we’re tracking whether reps are able to hit their quota given their new book and secondly, looking at book penetration. We’ve set some basic targets using historic data. Historically they were reaching out to X many and we think they should be reaching out to Y many, depending on which segment they’re in.

It’s crucial to make sure you’re not creating your OKRs in a vacuum but thinking of the wider company objectives and making sure your objectives align to those.

Read our interview with Brandon.

How Justin Kersey measures success in sales operations

Justin Kersey, VP of Sales, UK, Merrill Corporation

One of the general ways to measure success in sales operations is generating more revenue per sales head. And that bridges across sales ops and sales enablement because we have to upskill sellers on a regular basis to make sure that they know the latest product features, they know the latest selling styles, they know the latest buying personas within our market. We also need to ensure that we’re serving up the right information and coaching them through the sales process with relevant information about the organisations we’re selling to and driving new business towards them as well.

So, it’s really about supporting that full go-to-market strategy. Ultimately, we’re moving more towards revenue ops as opposed to sales ops because I think it generally starts with the marketing organisation at the top of the funnel feeding into SDRs and making sure that you’re continually cycling these people through that funnel. If they get to a stage where they’re not in a buying position, then we should pull them back up to the right place to continue to nurture those relationships and see them through the rest of the funnel. Sales ops’ job is to support from a data and analytics and tools perspective to make sure that we’re capturing all the right information, serving it up at the right times and just generally supporting the go-to-market strategy across the organization.

And if you’re doing all that effectively, you can correlate the average revenue gain per head to your work on X, Y and Z.

Read our interview with Justin.

Stephen Haltom

Stephen Haltom, Director of Sales Operations, AppDynamics

For me, success is when I get the direct validation and the direct feedback from the sales leaders that what you’ve provided is truly valuable because, at least in my experience, a lot of sales ops leaders come in Gung Ho with great ideas about how they’re going to change the world of sales. And a lot of it winds up not resonating, not being relevant, and not being the top priority for the sales leader. If you have your priorities and they’re not aligned with the core concerns and the priorities of the sales leader, it doesn’t invalidate the work you’re doing, but it’s just less likely to make an impact with them. For me, it’s really important to align with what your Sales Leader cares about, not just what you think is important.

In terms of quantitatively measuring success, for me that’s when a finding of mine leads to a decision being made.

Read our interview with Stephen.

Robin Yeoman

Robin Yeoman, Director of International Sales Operations, Snowflake Computing

We are very driven by OKRs, knowing exactly what it is you’re going to achieve that quarter and then being able to keep that priority list so that if another project comes in, you can very quickly rejig that list. So using the example of a new data tool, implementation can take a lot of time, but if the benefits outweigh some of the other projects, it might be worth doing. And if it saves in time in the long term or solves other issues that you’ve got, it’s definitely worth doing.

It’s almost like storytelling. You picture what could happen, you model whether this will have an effect on another department or another part of your team and you look at what you’re able to roll out and what you regard as success. And then you talk about how you measure that success.

A very basic example of an OKR we use at Snowflake is about hiring in our team, ensuring that we meet the targets to fall in with the ratios. Ratios are very important in sales ops, for example how many SDs report into an RD etc.

Another example is making sure any data tools or any other tools you’re getting are in your OKR and are signed off with clear mile stones. And then there’s enablement sessions. We committed to running a certain amount of what we call ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. So, we have to hit a certain number of sessions every quarter and have them documented, recorded and then put it in a place where people can watch them. And that could be about rolling out changes to Salesforce or how to forecast, for example. And it’s just delivered in a way that only takes an hour out of the salespeople’s week. It’s recorded, and sometimes it has quizzes added to it just to test that people are actually doing it. So as an OKR it’s quite simple but effective.

Read our interview with Robin.

Barrett Kelly, Global Sales Operations Manager, Exari

We follow the agile methodology. We have quarterly goals and everything we do feeds into those goals. When new tasks come in, you throw it into the backlog and constantly evaluate the backlog to see if anything needs to be brought into the current quarter. It’s having a focused approach. And then you can start measuring your achievements against your goals.

Secondly, I spend a lot of time managing software and working to improve our data hygiene to ensure better visibility and reporting. Communication with the teams and trying to get feedback from the management team are very important as well. Lastly another big piece for me is personal satisfaction, making sure I like what I’m doing and I’m going after goals that are going to make the company better.

Read our interview with Barrett.

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