Between the roller coaster of emotion that is sales, and the creative razzle dazzle of marketing, the operations professionals behind the scenes sometimes don’t get a lot of love. That’s OK, though, because most of us didn’t end up with careers in ops due to our spotlight-seeking behaviour.
We’re more interested in how things work, why some things aren’t working as well as we’d like, and figuring out how to make all of those things work better. Plus, there’s never been a better time to be an operations expert thanks to the thousands of sales, marketing, and business intelligence tools that have flooded the market in recent years.
That’s the story in a new infographic from InsightSquared and LinkedIn (also below), which digs into the state of sales, marketing, and business operations at companies ranging in size from teeny tiny to 10,000-plus employees. There are currently more than 60,000 open positions requiring business, sales, and marketing operations skills on LinkedIn, with technology and retail companies topping the list of sectors employing ops professionals.
The typical ops pro? There isn’t one
It’s not surprising to me that LinkedIn’s Research team found that my fellow operations folks come from a variety educational backgrounds, work for companies of all types and sizes, and are pretty evenly comprised of both men and women.
I noticed that diversity first-hand when the Toronto Enterprise Sales Forum hosted a panel featuring four local ops professionals, including me, at one of their recent meetups. It was interesting to learn that, between the four of us, we hold degrees in engineering, business, finance, and communications.
We also discussed how each of our educational backgrounds and early careers influenced our interest in operations, particularly for sales. I mentioned that I’m a good fit for sales ops because I studied finance and was always comfortable working with numbers and adopting new technologies. I also played a lot of sports growing up, so I love the competitive team spirit in sales and the opportunity to be that “assist” man on the team.
Rachel Palvetzian, Twitter’s Sales Strategy & Operations Manager for North America (second from right above), said her experience in management consulting allows her to make unbiased, data-driven, and people focused decisions in her role.
Mission possible: The impact of operations
As the only person in revenue operations at LookBookHQ, my role bridges the gaps between the different parts of our revenue team. I report to our Vice President of Marketing, but I spend at least 60% of my time working with the sales team. The rest is split between marketing and customer success.
Rachel explained our role best when she said, “Our main mission is to enhance sales productivity through strategic problem solving.” Crowdriff’s Sales and Marketing Operations Manager Sibil Samuel (second from left), said his role is to make sure data is accurate and to produce the right reports so leaders can make the right decisions based on good data. Elisa Signoretti, the Chief of Staff at Clearpath Robotics who started in sales ops (far left), on the other hand described it as “connecting strategy and execution.”
The biggest opportunities for ops: Certification and curiosity
One section of the infographic that surprised me is how few ops professionals have achieved professional certifications.
Back in 2015, I invested time in becoming a Salesforce.com Certified Administrator and a Marketo Certified Expert. Personally, I think technology-specific certifications like these are the best way to launch your career in sales or marketing operations. They make you much more visible to potential employers and allow you to make a huge impact as soon as you’re hired.
Finally, one important aspect of being an ops person that’s not quantified in the data from InsightSquared and LinkedIn is what I like to call “the curiosity factor.” It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds, so I try to block off a couple of hours each week to look at our data and try to identify patterns and trends. Once I’ve found something, I bring those insights to our team and make some actionable recommendations. Some of the most impactful recommendations I’ve made have come from just poking around in the data for a few hours with no specific task in mind.
To see the full infographic featuring all the data from InsightSquared and LinkedIn, click on the image below: