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Sales Nerds Rise Up: Modern Selling Is More than Just Sales Tactics

5 min read
Oct. 6, 2016

On to Day 3 of Dreamforce 2016, we’re jam-packing the day with sessions, joining sales leaders from across the country to share tips and best practices around modern selling. And what better place to discuss modern sales as it relates to the evolution of the tech scene in the past few years than Dreamforce.

Today, Salesloft VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester sat down with Peter Kazanjy of Modern Sales, Tracy Zirbel of Cisco Meraki, and Don Otvos of DataHug to talk all things sales operations. As technology has evolved, the systems, processes, integrations, and workflows available to a sales organization have evolved with it.

All of this change has created an opportunity for the sales role that has been hidden in back offices for too long: the sales nerd.

Who is the “sales nerd” and how do they relate to the sales rep, you ask? The sales nerd is the owner of all things Sales Operations, but in that, Sales Ops and Sales Reps are innately different. Where sales is focused on selling (naturally), sales ops is focused solely on analyzing data, analytics and the entire sales process. And where conventional sales has the bad habit of being “uninformed,” the introduction of the sales nerd means the introduction of intentional, analytical thinking to the sales process.

“Modern sales combines skills and intentionality.” -Sean Kester

So what do these pros think the interaction between sales leadership and Sales Ops should look like?

For starters, Sales Ops is a cross-functional role, so the best thing that leadership can do is build strong relationships cross-departmentally and define the rules of engagement. Having that initial buy-in from leadership is crucial to the integrations process.

But what are some strategies to establish that ROI up-front?

Simple: use data to backup your argument. Start at the top of the funnel, and then prove that ROI by making everyone wildly successful, from SDRs to AEs to CSMs. Be brutally honest with yourself and your organization about what’s working and what’s not. Think of Sales Operations as the product management within your sales organization. Your sales staff are your users, to who you have to prove internal ROI.

“Project management is one of those skill sets that is becoming more and more valuable for Sales Ops.” -Tracy Zirbel

So, when hiring your first sales nerd, it’s helpful to look to former Project Managers for the role, but what other backgrounds lead to successful Sales Ops roles?

According to these experts, many future sales nerds actually start in sales roles. The only thing is, in that role, they feel like there’s a missing piece. They’ve got the chops for sales, but they’re missing that data and validation — the piece that sales ops can fulfill. And just as with any role that works so closely with sales, it’s helpful to be able to relate and have empathy to what sales reps have to go through to log events, data, and tasks in order to serve as a helpful project manager.

With all of these things said, though, there’s one piece of the Sales Ops role that is crucial to it’s success: technology. But with the amount of tech available, how do you go about vetting vendors?

According to Tracy, “if you focus on technology before process, you’ll end up with a tool you’ve invested a lot of time and money in that no one wants to use.” So think about the process first. Focus on the problem (and the fix) and make sure a technology fits that problem.

And remember, not all companies and sales organizations are the same, so t while you can talk to other Sales Ops folks and see what they recommend, the most important people to ask are your sales reps. Ask them what they want, and then build out a rules and responsibilities matrix that goes along with tools to help show everything that goes into implementing new tools. After all, often times you’re learning right alongside your reps.

“Part of Sales Ops’ job is to be students of the game.” -Peter Kazanjy

As the Sales Ops role grows, we’re seeing more and more tools that are geared towards specifics actions of reps, rather than that of their sales managers, so use that to your team’s advantage. Sales engagement platforms like Salesloft do just that — they take the real-life activities of a sales rep, and use analytics to create intentional, data-driven processes from the ground up.

The sales nerd masters the systems and processes that keep the sales team running because they understand data and workflows in ways that uncover trends, improve performance, and predict success. There has never been a better time for Sales Ops to have a dramatic, meaningful impact on your sales organization than right now — so let’s join these industry leaders as we look toward the bright, nerd-driven future of Sales Operations ahead.

Want to give Salesloft Sales Analytics a try today? Contact our sales team, or go visit them in Moscone at Booth #1613. You can’t miss it!