Breaking the Sales Prevention Barrier: A Guide to High Performance Sales Operations

“What does Sales Operations do?”

The answer to that question is critical not just to my clients, who are trying to build their own high-performance Sales Operations, but to the Sales Ops professionals who find themselves struggling to describe the various roles that they play in their company.

I like to answer with another question: “what should Sales Operations do, at your company, at this time?”

Because Sales Ops is a pendulum for most successful companies – it will swing closer to sales (field-facing) in times when top-line growth is the highest priority…. and swing closer to finance (operations-facing) in times when fiscal controls are the highest priority. And Sales Ops ranges from the highly strategic planning that occurs on an annual basis to the tactical day-to-day support of a sales force.

In those moments when Sales Ops is highly operations-facing, they can alienate the sales teams by seeming to be a barrier to getting sales done quickly. More than once, I’ve heard a sales rep joke about Sales Ops as more like “sales prevention”!

The key to a high-performance Sales Operations function within your company is maintaining that balance, not in the middle but at the point where Sales Ops can help a company best meet its strategic goals at that moment in time. And to be seen as a partner to the sales teams across every aspect of Sales Operations – that’s how to “break the sales prevention barrier”.

The below diagram is a synthesis of my work with the Sales Ops teams across hundreds of companies across a wide-spectrum of industries and size.

In a small company, a single individual may play all of these roles – it may even be the VP of Sales themselves.

But in larger companies, you will see a wide range of roles that are “sales-related”, all reporting under a single VP of Sales Operations. Those teams are often tasked with defining what’s within their scope of responsibilities and I hope this graphic helps in that discussion.

Please add your comments to this post with how this matches to your own experiences!

4 Responses to Breaking the Sales Prevention Barrier: A Guide to High Performance Sales Operations

  1. Tim Dugan says:

    Great summary of the Sales Ops role. By the way if you know anyone looking to fill a role exactly like what you describe, I have the job for them.

  2. Ella says:

    Very helpful diagram!

  3. Bevan says:


    Great diagram. This definitely outlines exactly what a lot of companies are moving towards.

    Where do you feel content management fits into this model? Is it worthy of being called out on its own or should it be included in areas such as “sales training” and “mobile enablement”?

  4. Great stuff. very incisive post, i really appreciate it. The example you have shown in your post is really good and easily.Thanks for sharing understandable.

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