This year has sparked a lot of questions about the future of sales ops: How are sales ops leaders handling the challenges of working remotely and managing their tech stacks during the pandemic? What’s the best way to forecast during uncertain times? How has the role of sales ops changed compared to last year? Will AI continue to play a larger role in our tools and methodology? 

As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones asking these questions. Salesforce has been busy asking them, too — to almost 6,000 sales professionals around the globe, to be exact. For the first time ever, the CRM platform has published a portion of its Trends in Sales Ops Report, revealing valuable data gleaned from full-time sales professionals like sales operations specialists, sales representatives, and sales leadership in varying B2B and B2C industries worldwide.

“Sales ops has more influence than ever in today’s sales organizations,” shared Elliot Greenwald, the COO of Salesforce Anywhere, in his opening remarks. “Because of this, sales ops is not only executing strategy but also defining it. Today’s work-from-home reality has blurred the lines between inside sales and field sales. It’s now more important than ever to have a central, defined sales strategy.”

Packed with insightful data regarding the latest trends in sales ops, this report serves as a valuable tool as we look forward to 2021. From examining how the sales ops job description is expanding to the high-tech tools that have surged in value since the pandemic, we’re highlighting the can’t-miss info in this Salesforce report. 

Why Sales Operations is More Important Than Ever

Sales ops teams have always had an integral role, but now they are getting an even bigger seat at the table. Why? Unprecedented circumstances (i.e., a global pandemic) require more “operational efficiency and data-driven decision-making” in order to succeed. In fact, the report revealed that 85% of sales professionals say the role of sales ops has become more strategic since the onset of the pandemic. 

A bigger seat at the table means an increase in sales operations teams’ work — and the numbers prove it, with 75% of sales ops professionals reporting new responsibilities at work. Furthermore, their job descriptions are expanding to include things like “high-level planning and revenue strategy.” Arguably the most important function, however, comes with bridging the gap between cross-functional teams. With RevOps on the rise, the role of sales ops is no longer siloed, and the collaboration of these teams is crucial to company-wide success. 

Sales Ops Paves the Way for New Tools

Changing roles and responsibilities will inevitably shift the need for specific tools, too. Since 2019, 73% of sales leaders reported that their sales technology needs have changed and that they implement those changes faster than they did last year. Some of the most popular and most valuable tools, according to the report, include: 

  • Video conferencing
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Mobile sales app(s) for employees
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) system
  • Sales prospecting

Video conferencing is a given with millions of employees now working from home, but AI is the real kicker here. Thanks to AI, 52% of leadership saw a major improvement in understanding customer needs, 47% reported a major improvement in forecasting, and 46% improved visibility into rep activity when compared to 2019. Fears that AI would replace human sales teams are diminishing as AI tools prove to be a valuable resource in not only achieving KPIs but hiring for and growing sales ops teams as well. 

WATCH: More on the State of Sales Ops with Salesforce’s Jen Whalen

If you’re looking for more insight into the Trends in Sales Ops Report, you might want to check out this episode of shOPS Talk with Jen Whalen, the Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce. In Special Edition: State of Sales Ops, Jen and Brad discuss the future of operations, how to drive growth during a crisis, and more about the tools sales ops teams are using now versus last year.  

The Last Word: What’s Next for Sales Ops

It goes without saying that 2020 was full of unique and unprecedented challenges. Nonetheless, as this report has demonstrated, sales ops teams around the world rose to the occasion with tools in hand, proving that change (even the unexpected kind) can be a good thing. 

Looking for more sales ops resources? Check out these articles from Salesforce, or dive into our own assortment at Sonar