How To Be A Good Sales Ops Person

Imran Ahmed

Albert Einstein said: “Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” In most organizations, the sales operations job description is vast and diverse, and it’s sometimes a challenge to pinpoint what it takes to become good at sales ops.

One thing is for sure: sales ops should be multi-dimensional, which is not easy because humans can only operate in fixed or known dimensions, as the human brain, as complex as it is, has finite dimensions. Therefore, rather than wasting your time, energy, and effort trying to achieve the impossible or fantasizing about becoming a superhero, focus on the following five most important and pragmatic characteristics that will help you transform into a good sales ops person.

1. Strengthen your technical sales knowledge and skills

You must have a good understanding of the tools, applications, and analytics platforms that you will use to do your job. This knowledge comes through continuous learning and experimenting. You must also have good analytical and statistical skills to quickly understand and explain your analysis.

You should also have a good awareness of the technical terms that are part of every sales conversation, like RoI, BoM, PoC, segmentation, customer classifications, etc. Knowing these technical sales terms helps you collaborate with the sales team.

2. Be creative and improvise

There is no single tool or report that will fulfill your sales team’s complete needs. Always think about improvements that will make things simpler and more relevant. Try to put yourself in others’ shoes and think about what they need to make decisions quickly and accurately. Be ready to act quickly and deliver content with the data, reports, and tools at your disposal.

3. Stay close to the people and business

Don’t confine yourself to your analysis and spreadsheets. Be ready to wear other hats to add value to the business. There could be times when the sales team needs your support with their business, and you should not pull back because it’s not part of your written roles and responsibilities. Instead, seize the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the team; sales team members are more responsive to sales ops they can trust and rely on. Sometimes just bringing hot coffee to a meeting can make a big difference.

4. Improve your organizational and interpersonal skills

Because sales operations is often a team sport that works across different departments (e.g., sales, finance, controlling, commercial, legal, IT, business applications, etc.), you need to be a strong influencer. Having good communication with others in sales and other departments plays a critical role in your job success.

5. Get the right attitude and mindset

A great sales ops person naturally has a personality that makes them a good fit for the job, such as an affinity for data, business acumen, results orientation, flexible tenacity, problem solving, and diagnostic thinking.

It’s important to know that a good sales ops person must have all the above characteristics; having just one or two will hold you back. Some people are technical geniuses but may not be good at getting along with others; others may be really good at the interpersonal stuff but need help putting together a basic spreadsheet.

In general, to be a good sales ops person, you should be willing to do what other sales ops people are not willing to do. Instead of wishing for things to be easier, work to become better yourself. Try to be well-rounded, someone who is good at all these things and not just great in one. In other words, work to become a jack of all trades, not a master of one.

Your organization’s culture influences its success. Learn about “Understanding Organizational Cultures.”

Imran Ahmed

About Imran Ahmed

Imran Ahmed is an SAP veteran of 18 years. He started as an application developer and then moved to a role focused on project management. Now, Imran is Head of Business Operations for the Middle East region at SAP, which covers five countries and includes a team of talented business operations principals.