What does a sales operations manager do? (Plus skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sales operations managers are crucial business figures who support organisations by overseeing and developing their sales operations to enable consistent growth. These professionals lead sales teams and regularly measure their performance to facilitate the sales process, especially during periods of growth. Knowing more about the role of a sales operations manager may help you decide whether you want to work in this field. In this article, we discuss what a sales operations manager is, explore what their job involves and look at how to become one.

What is a sales operations manager?

A sales operations manager is the leader of a sales department and the overseer of a company's sales operations, which are the processes necessary to conduct selling. They're professionals that companies tend to employ when they're scaling, as sales processes can become complex and unstable during this time and can threaten the entire scaling effort. For this reason, a sales operations manager's role is often to maintain order and efficiency during such critical times.

Related: How much does a sales manager make? (And ways to earn more)

What does a sales operations manager do?

To answer 'What does a sales operations manager do?' these professionals improve the efficiency of sales processes by ensuring salespeople have everything they require to be productive in their jobs. They monitor and manage sales processes and sales teams, and their jobs often involve managing multiple responsibilities simultaneously. For this reason, they rely heavily on their project management and diplomacy skills to fulfil their duties. They're often involved with companies when they scale and ensure operations remain smooth and efficient as a company grows.

They negotiate with leaders of various departments, including HR, finance and marketing teams, to ensure sales reps have everything they require to maintain their sales productivity. These professionals also track key performance indicators (KPIs) and manage customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Measuring KPIs helps sales operations managers ensure teams are meeting targets and using CRM systems help them manage customer data and analyse customer interactions. These are just some of the resources sales operations managers use to facilitate stable and productive selling activities. Here are some of the main responsibilities of these professionals:

  • Managing sales funnels: Be aware of the business's sales funnel and how customers move through it to understand any hindrances that prevent prospects from converting. One of the primary duties of the job is analysing conversion rates and other data pertaining to the sales funnel and making strategic alterations to it to improve its performance.

  • Maintaining and improving the efficiency of the sales process: It's the job of a sales manager to analyse an existing sales process and identify areas for improvement. They identify problems and implement solutions, in addition to identifying opportunities for development, such as how to reduce waste and improve efficiency.

  • Managing CRM systems: These systems are essential for managing and analysing customer data, and sales managers aim to make these systems more effective in various ways. This can mean auditing data and ensuring contacts lists are up to date, for example, ensuring sellers can be optimally productive.

  • Choosing and managing sales automation tools: These managers also source and implement new tools for sales reps to improve their output and efficiency. This may involve implementing various kinds of sales automation tools.

  • Conducting sales forecasts: Business leaders provide KPIs and other targets to ensure sales teams align with business objectives, and sales managers make forecasts to ensure teams remain on track. Data analysis and forecasting also tell businesses about predicted growth and other trends.

  • Managing teams of sales representatives: In businesses with relatively small sales teams, sales operations managers typically manage them alone, whereas businesses with numerous sales teams may have a team of sales operations analysts. It's the sales manager's job to lead the sales reps and ensure they have the necessary support and resources to perform well.

  • Negotiating with various departments to fulfil business goals: In developing organisational goals, these professionals liaise with other departmental leaders to offer insights into the sales department's performance. This helps the organisation at large understand its growth potential and set future targets.

Sales operations manager skills

The exact duties sales operations managers perform differ depending on who they work for and how their employer conducts their selling activities. Still, the skills these professionals possess and apply are consistent. Some of them include:

  • Business understanding: It's essential that these professionals understand how their work contributes to the wider business and that they have a strong understanding of the business's perspective.

  • Project management: These skills are necessary for coordinating staff and overseeing projects to drive successful outcomes.

  • Organisation: Because sales operations can be complex and contain various moving parts, being able to organise time, staff and resources is crucial.

  • Understanding of database and CRM software: These are some of the most essential tools for salespeople, so knowing how to leverage them is paramount when optimising sales processes.

  • Analytical skills: Being able to analyse data, systems and processes is vital when attempting to improve performance and efficiency within sales departments.

  • Diplomacy: Being diplomatic means being able to motivate people whilst understanding their point of view and taking it into account to keep them happy. This is a powerful skill when managing people.

  • Teamwork: Sales managers often work alongside various business leaders and with numerous staff under their care, meaning the ability to cooperate effectively is imperative.

  • Managerial experience: Being a skilled manager is another beneficial skill that can lead to success in this position and it's likely a requirement for most sales operations manager roles.

  • Problem-solving: After analysing sales operations and available data, these professionals identify problems and devise appropriate solutions, so problem-solving skills are important.

  • Computer skills: Many businesses rely on computer systems to facilitate their sales operations, which means computer literacy is a required skill.

  • Analysis and reporting: To make the best use of data and other performance indicators, sales managers rely on analytical skills, and to accurately report information to stakeholders, they rely on reporting and report-writing skills.

  • Knowledge of financial systems: Understanding the financial systems of businesses helps sales operations managers make financially sound decisions and maximise resource utilisation.

How to become a sales operations manager

While it's possible to gain a job in this field without a degree, such as by working your way up from an entry-level position, the most straightforward way for people who are new to the industry is to gain the necessary education and experience and then apply directly. Here are some steps you can take to become a sales operations manager:

1. Gain a relevant bachelor's degree

Because this is a senior position in which a high level of expertise is necessary, businesses usually require you to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as marketing, business administration or economics. These subjects can give you excellent foundational knowledge that you can then develop when specialising in sales operations. To improve your chances of impressing recruiters, aim for at least a 2:1 grade, as this can help to differentiate you from other applicants.

Related: How to write an operations manager cover letter (with examples)

2. Gain work experience

It's rare for businesses to hire graduates for this position straight after university, and some work experience is typically necessary. Businesses usually want to see several years of managerial experience, as this is a high-level managerial job that places you in charge of critical business aspects. Gaining work experience as a general manager can be beneficial, ideally in a sales-related environment. It may be a good idea for you to explore graduate positions in your desired field, as these can offer fast-track routes to high-level positions.

Related: Operations manager interview questions and how to answer them

3. Tailor your CV and apply for jobs

Create an effective CV that highlights your most relevant skills, knowledge and experience. Consider using a summary statement to do this effectively, as you can describe how you meet the job description in a way that's quick and easy to read. Also, scan the job description for keywords that the employer may be looking for in CVs and include them throughout. This is especially useful when businesses use CV-scanning software, as it targets such keywords and highlights those that meet the criteria. Once you find an interesting job opening, apply directly using your CV and a cover letter.

Related: How to write a sales manager CV (with template and example)

4. Continue developing your skills

To progress your career, keep working on the skills that matter most to this job, such as leadership and business skills. Consider attaining a certification, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, as this can help you manage projects more efficiently. Developing your skills even after you get the job you desire is an effective way to increase your earning potential.

Related:

  • What is sales operations? (Definitions and best practices)


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