Key Trends in Sales Operations: What’s Going to Shape 2016

Will sales operations departments gain in stature inside organizations? Will companies establish sales operations centers of excellence and beef up their staffs, or will we see more outsourcing of the function? How will the Sales Performance Management (SPM) vendor marketplace look? Learn more about the key trends in sales operations and what will shape the sales performance landscape next year.

trends in sales operations

The sales operations role continues to grow in importance as a vital contributor to your organization’s performance.

As a consultant, I have met a lot of sales ops professionals in various organizations. They have asked me the secret of standing out in this field because they no longer want to toil in the shadows. Sales ops people want to do more than calculate incentives; they want the recognition they deserve for helping sales get and close the big deals. Sales ops professionals want to capture value and think strategically.

Let’s take notice of the key trends that will shape sales ops next year:

  1. Companies will embrace new approaches to managing sales performance. 

More sales organizations are choosing ongoing subscriptions for Sales Operations as a Service and change management services. The as-a-service mindset turns the traditional client-provider relationship into a long-term partnership.

A recent sales performance study we conducted on large sales organizations showed Sales Operations as a Service helps companies gain deeper and more sustained sales performance than with SPM software alone. This includes 15% better process reliability and 13% more cost savings.

  1. Predictive analytics go mainstream in sales organizations.

Better sales forecasts = better business results. According to recent research, “companies currently deploying sales analytics are, compared with non-users, 93% better at walking away from bad deals, 33% stronger at understanding which opportunities are most and least likely to close, and 27% more competent at adding extra resources to deals most deserving of end-of-month executive support.”

Modeling can eliminate overpayments by as much as 10 percent. If you’re in a mid-sized company spending $30 million in sales compensation every year, this represents a significant gain. Next year, companies will go above and beyond sales analytics. Those who master the art of modeling sales compensation plans and predictive analytics will be future sales leaders.

  1. Big data analytics will become a routine prelude to sales planning.

Everything starts with data in sales operations – one of the most data-driven departments of your company. Sirius Decisions recommends that the sales planning process begins with data collection and analysis, at least 30 days prior to the sales leadership planning session. But there’s a fundamental flaw in the process: big data is sometimes bad data.

In 2016, sales organizations will be focusing more on the accuracy of their big data. Their challenge is to aggregate information coming from myriad sources, deliver more actionable insights, and transform them into real-time changes.

  1. Companies will devote more resources to SPM software and services.

sales operations trendsLarge sales organizations find it very difficult to drive sales engagement without SPM software to automate processes, and without the right processes to start. They also have a hard time aligning the sales force to the overall strategy. According to Ventana Research, 43% of enterprises consider sales force alignment the most important outcome of improved SPM capabilities.

We all know a company budget is limited, no matter its organizational size, and that leadership resets priorities frequently. Though there are many aspects of a business that need a chunk of the annual budget, SPM software and services will become more of a priority in 2016.

More companies are starting to look at the discipline of sales performance management as a set of inter-connected activities, not just isolated tasks.

  1. Organizations will tighten sales ops data security.

You can never be too paranoid when it comes to security. Sales organizations are vulnerable to breaches. Sales operations departments are over-exposed because they are sitting on huge piles of confidential data. In 2016, companies will reinforce security and audit controls to avoid threats and comply with the latest regulations.

All of these trends reveal sales ops’ desire to drive real business outcomes and step into the spotlight. This function continues to grow in importance as a vital contributor to the success of the entire organization.

Learn more about the benefits of Sales Operations as a Service from our dedicated whitepaper.

What do you believe the 2016 sales ops trends will be? Let us know in the comment section below.


The Sales Management Association recently completed a study into sales operations’ practices, challenges, priorities, and emerging trends. Make sure you also check their research to get new insights into this emerging corporate function.


Sales Analytics: The Path to Better Forecasting, Aberdeen Group, August 2015

Annual Sales Planning: Sales Operations’ Role, SiriusDecisions



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