How to Become a Sales Ops Leader To Watch

April 24, 2013 at 7:00 AM

SBI recently accepted nominations for the Top Sales Operations Leaders to Watch in 2013. The list was unveiled last week at DemandCon. Each one of these individuals has been identified as an outstanding Sales Ops leader.  They represent the best in the business.   This post provides a strategy for making the list in 2014. 


There's a good chance you'll have a new VP of Sales within the next year.  That new VP will have certain expectations of his Sales Ops leadership.  The competencies he is looking for are demanded by the evolving marketplace.   The Top Sales Ops Leaders have mastered these skills.  To keep your job you must evolve as well. The latest research shows there are 10 capabilities that every Sales Ops leader should have in 2013.  Your ability to gain proficiency and mastery of each capability will be reflected in your personal brand.

Personal Brand

A personal brand is a promise to your customers.  You have external customers; those that purchase and have an interest in your firm’s products or services.  You have internal customers; those that you report to and that report to you.  Both sets of stakeholders are looking for a consistent solution to their problems.  Your customers need to know that you will deliver on your brand promise.  In the end, your brand is a perception of the value you add to your customers.  So how will your customers determine the credibility of your brand?

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  1. Evidence:  In all your interactions, customers are looking for signals of your brand.  The ease of doing business with you can be one.  Your experience leading a change initiative may be another.  Your forecast accuracy is something that VPs have always cared about.
  2. Validation:  Is there any better validation than being nominated to a list of Leaders to Watch?  Also, who has recommended and endorsed your skills on LinkedIn?  What thought leadership have you produced and who has shared it?  What is your track record of success?
  3. Trust and Reinforcement:  Once your brand promise is trusted, you must continue to nurture it.  Recommend your favorite author on territory design strategy.  Bring a net new insight to every customer interaction.  Proactively enforce each element of the promise.  The perception customers will have will be tied to the value you consistently bring.

Download this template for the 10 Elements of the Sales Ops Leader Brand Promise

The 10 capabilities of Top Sales Leaders can be bucketed into 3 main competencies the VP is looking for:

  1. Strategic Planning
  2. Leadership & Development
  3. Systems Management

1. Strategic Planning

Data is getting bigger.  As the numbers get more granular, the insights can get richer.  Data driven decision making is becoming standard across the sales organization.  The value that Sales Ops adds is using the data to influence strategic direction.  How does your growing presence online appeal to your customers?  Will lower Customer Acquisition costs necessitate a new buyer profile?  Can you reduce sales cycle length and improve customer retention by creating buyer personas and buyer process maps? 

2. Leadership & Development

Sales Ops leaders’ Span of Control is growing.  Leading diverse teams from multiple functions across an organization is essential.  That means understanding each function.  It means developing the talent across those functions.  From recruiting and hiring to onboarding and coaching, constantly improve the talent in the organization.  Creating an agile workforce that is able to constantly improve will go a long way this year.

3. Systems Management

Some things never change.  Your ability to manage and enable technology is still important to the boss.  There is a growing frustration among the VPs over systems adoption.  You’ve monitored the data the field is inputting and believe it’s clean and accurate.  Have you worked to grow executive adoption of the tools?  Does the management team understand how these systems can be leveraged to grow revenue?  Chances are this is a challenge in your organization. 

Each of the 10 capabilities essential for Sales Ops this year is part of your brand.  Either it enhances your brand or is a blemish on your reputation.  Since you’ve made it to where you are, you probably excel at some.  The changing landscape of sales leadership demands you keep pace with the evolution. Grow your personal brand and proactively reinforce your new capabilities.  If you do, you may see your name up in lights in 2014. 

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Topics: Sales Operations Strategy, B2B sales, sales operations, Leadership, Brand, Technology, training

Posted by John Kearney

John Kearney
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