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Get to Know the Sales Ops Toolbox

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to: 

  • Differentiate between common sales technologies.
  • Explain sales operations role in evaluating, implementation, and adopting this technology.
Note

Note

This module was produced in collaboration with GreenFig, which owns, supports, and maintains the GreenFig products, services, and features described here. Use of GreenFig products, services, and features is governed by privacy policies and service agreements maintained by GreenFig.

Most of sales operations’ responsibilities relate directly to a company’s sales technology stack, or tech stack. A sales tech stack is all of the software that a particular sales team uses. (As opposed to a martech stack, which are the software tools that the marketing team uses. Can you guess what the collection of all the technology a particular finance team uses is called?) 

Stewards of Technology

A cloud made up of interconnected wires representative of an interconnected sales tech stack based on cloud software.

Without a dedicated sales operations team to oversee significant technology changes, maintaining and adding new tools can have unintended outcomes. 

  • Unclear processes
  • Exhausted IT departments
  • Less efficient workflows
  • Siloed teams

Companies rely on sales ops to guide adoption of the ever-growing list of technology available to manage sales and business functions. Even with sales ops support, a poorly chosen sales tool can tie up a team in lengthy and costly implementation cycles. 

Effective deployment of these tools into the sales team’s day-to-day work is ultimately dependent on adoption—something we explore in more detail later.

Common Sales Technology

Not every company uses all of these tools, but most of them have some combination of the following as part of their sales tech stack.

Sales Tool
Purpose
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A technology, like Salesforce, for managing a company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

ERP tracks business resources—cash, raw materials, production capacity—and the status of business commitments, such as orders and payroll across various departments (manufacturing, purchasing, sales, accounting, and so on).
Sales Compensation
Technology that automates the accounting and administration of commissions and incentive plans.
Email Tracking & Logging
This tool logs activity data on every sales email sent and automatically syncs with CRM.
Electronic Signature
Automates the document signing process, such as proposals, statements of work (SOWs), or contracts.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Category of cloud computing service that enables companies to develop, run, and manage applications.
Data Visualization
Software that transforms text-based data into visuals like charts and graphs, to better expose patterns, trends, and correlations.
Data Enrichment
Tools that enhance, refine, or otherwise improve raw data. For example, some data enrichment tools boast Industry and Annual Revenue data across millions of companies, which can be added to account records to support smarter territory planning.
Content Management System (CMS)
Software that allows users to create, manage, or modify digital content for publishing to a website.
Marketing Automation Software*
Technology that automates marketing activities, such as email, social media, and website action.

*This is not a sales tool, but nonetheless is critical to have sales ops understanding and oversight.

Manage the Sales Tech Stack

No one tool handles every function or process a sales team needs. With this in mind, compatibility and integration are some of the first considerations when evaluating new tools. This is easier said than done. 

Remember, in Sales Operations Basics, the sales team needed a better way to retrieve marketing materials. Sales operations worked with sales management, marketing, and IT to implement a better content management system—one that all teams had to agree on, and one that integrated with their CRM.

Once the tool is implemented, sales ops establishes standards of use to help sales teams achieve desired business results. Typically, this means better data quality, greater sales productivity, and accurate commission payments, among many others.

Note

Note

How do organizations decide to adopt these tools and build processes around them? Sales operations recommend new tools when a clear sales team process inefficiency arises or when a team(s) requests assistance with a new initiative. Sales operations can also recommend a tool’s removal when cost exceeds value. 

Scale or Bust

Sales operations professional drawing out a process via flow chart on a whiteboard.

Regardless of the systems change at hand, scalability makes or breaks sales processes. The best systems and processes are those that can accommodate growth—a sales team transforming from a lean-and-local group to a matrixed and possibly global organization. Scalability relies on two main factors. 

  • The number of steps in a process
  • And whether those steps are manual versus automated

As a rule, processes that rely on sales or sales ops completing manual activities do not scale well. For example, relying on five people to type data into Salesforce, while not ideal, requires less oversight than a team of 50 keying data into Salesforce. 

Additionally, the more steps there are in a sales process, manual or automated, the more opportunities there are for errors to occur. Simply, automated processes best support sales teams and require less maintenance over time after implementation.

Sales Team Tech Adoption Tips

  • Consider whether a new tool being adopted is due to a sales needs, an efficiency need, or a direct request from an executive. These do not always align, and it is the responsibility of sales ops to reconcile these needs.
  • Include a member of the sales team in the vendor selection process. This often is a sales leader.
  • Will key functionality change or be lost? This possibility must be transparently communicated and justified to sales.

Next Up

Now that you have a better understanding of the sales tech stack, let’s explore the relationship that sales has with these tools. We also share best practices for driving internal adoption of new technologies.

Resources