SE Ops: Sales Ops for the Sales Engineering team

Earlier this year, a fellow Modern Sales Pro asked what a Sales Ops-style role for a Sales Engineering team might look like.

Shortly after sending my thoughts on the topic, Stephen Morse, former VP Sales Engineering at Salesforce and current VP of WW Field Engineering for Algolia, shot back to say my insights were spot-on. With kudos from such an experienced SE executive in my corner, I thought I’d share so more Rev Ops pros might benefit.

Operationalizing our SE and Support teams was what I first spun up at Zerto, and ran with for roughly six months, as a way of getting leadership on-board with a formal Sales Ops practice.

My pitch to our head of Sales at the time was this: “My goal is to take everything that you’ve said has made me great at SE & SE leadership roles, add all the lessons learned from working with and through Support, define ‘successful SE’ and ‘successful Support Rep’, and then crank-out successful sales and support teams.”

Sales Ops, Marketing Ops, SE Ops… they’re all GTM focus areas of the same coin:

  • Sales Ops drives sales velocity through salespeople
  • Marketing Ops drives sales velocity through marketers
  • SE Ops drives sales velocity through SEs
  • Constantly improving sales velocity drives revenue

In my case of running this for all of pre- and post-sales plus technical support, the key goals for me were (i) building scalable systems for recruiting & onboarding along with (ii) improving alignment with sales. This meant owning areas like capacity and compensation planning, enablement design & delivery, program and process creation, GTM planning, identifying and reporting a variety of metrics up and/or over, etc.

If the above sounds like what Sales Operations does for Sales, I’ll repeat: these are GTM focus areas of the same coin.

To provide additional context and ammo, below are several key points from the job description I wrote when formalizing this to the business:

  • Create and execute globally-standardized processes, programs, and tools that facilitate efficient operations, effective execution, and improved management insight
  • Develop annual budgets, hiring and capacity plans, comp plans, and other operational plans
  • Build and launch scalable processes that drive pre-sales alignment, Professional Services utilization, and Support CSAT targets
  • Own process improvement across pre-sales, post-sales, and support
  • Create programs which drive continuous expansion and growth out of large customers and OEM relationships
  • Develop the KPIs, metrics, and operating rhythm to drive the scale-up/scale-out capability of our tech staff managers
  • Build and launch new customer and partner programs that improve access to and engagement with our pre- and post-sales teams
  • Work with customers and partners to identify areas for improvement in our technical operations, product development and launch, value-add services, etc.

Sales is a rollercoaster. It doesn’t have to be.

Long days, late nights, chasing customers, having tough conversations with management, ringing the bell after a big win, the punch in the gut as a deal slips through your hands. The highs. The lows.

A lot of people in sales will tell you that their career is like a rollercoaster.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you want to really succeed in Sales, if you want to have a great career and help thousands or tens of thousands of people by solving their biggest business problems…

You HAVE TO get off the rollercoaster.

I’ve known a ton of salespeople who ride the rollercoaster.

They’re always the same ones who:

  • Don’t ask for help
  • Don’t dig into what the customer really needs
  • Don’t ask for the order
  • Don’t ask basic questions like “who is involved in a purchase” and “how would you recommend we work to win their approval”
  • Can’t articulate value
  • Don’t know any way to win except by giving the product away
  • Leave everything until the last week of the quarter
  • Blame a loss on everyone and everything but themselves

If you want off the rollercoaster, figure out which of these mistakes you’re making.

Then do the opposite.