Some people compare sales operations teams to a car's engine. Although not seen by drivers, it's working away under the hood, powering the car to get from point A to point B. In the same way, sales operations teams are the people making sure the sales force is always moving forward successfully. They are responsible for leveraging technology and information to support sales, troubleshoot CRM issues, and design solutions that drive sales onward and upward.

Today, the average sales representative is so busy with routine tasks like emails and meetings that they spend less than half of their day actually selling. An awesome sales operations team can help those reps cut back on administrative work and provide the company with a huge return on investment.

While it's up to sales reps to keep revenue figures climbing up and to the right, the sales ops team must ensure everything is running smoothly on the back end — as well as face their own set of work-related difficulties. Here's a list of 5 common, but rarely-acknowledged, challenges sales operations teams face today:

1. Wearing too many hats

Sales reps have a very defined role: convert leads into buyers. Everything related to sales teams that is not defined within that sales rep role is usually relegated to sales ops. If you look at a typical sales ops job description, you'll find a range of responsibilities that include overseeing sales performance analysis, developing a sales incentive program, managing sales force automation and CRM, evaluating and designing sales force strategies, and providing technical support for sales functionalities and tools. This wide range of tasks, in addition to addressing the immediate needs of sales reps, can become overwhelming and taxing for sales ops teams.

2. Keeping up with evolving technology

The dynamic world of CRM, marketing automation, and predictive marketing analytics tools is forcing sales ops to constantly reevaluate their strategies to stay ahead of the game. With sales becoming more aligned with other departments like marketing and customer success, sales tools need to be able to integrate and connect to other business tools. Sales ops is responsible for making sure the tools in place are cost-effective and bring in measurable ROI.

3. Juggling ad-hoc requests

Because a huge part of sales ops involves supporting and managing the sales force and corresponding tools, it's impossible to plan out when requests are going to arise. It's difficult to keep a consistent, predictable workflow in an environment where sales strategies and technologies are constantly changing. Work management and instant messaging platforms are becoming more popular across sales ops teams to stay on top of requests and communicate quickly.

4. Adjusting to the shift in customer interaction

Currently, consumers have access to more information about a product than ever before. With blog content, videos, tutorials, reviews, and free trials all being thrown into the lap of a potential buyer before they even speak to a sales representative, it can be difficult to find a reason to get them on the phone. It's up to sales ops and managers to determine how to engage with potential customers when they already know so much about the product, as well as how to shift the sales conversation from "what" to "how and why."

5. Reaching larger, long-term company goals while keeping up with immediate sales needs

Sales ops' top priorities are accelerating revenue and sales growth. But new lead-gathering strategies outlined by executives, combined with input from the full sales team, can be overwhelming. Unless there is a clear, continued understanding between executives, marketing, and sales on how to identify high-value prospects for sales reps, the sales funnel will flood with uninterested leads and general inquiries. And while sales ops may be focusing on reaching their lead conversion goal for their quarterly OKRs, sales managers could be pushing their reps to focus on target accounts — which could mean fewer overall conversions, damaging the sales ops' perceived success.

What other challenges have you seen arise in sales ops teams?

As sales operations become more common in organizations, it's important to recognize when these challenges start turning into full-blown barriers to success. Once resolved, your sales team can focus less on administrative fire drills and more on closing deals!

What are some of the other challenges facing professional services firms and sales ops teams? Share with us in the comments!