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Revenue operations vs. sales operations: What's the difference?

While revenue operations focus on revenue growth and integration of sales, marketing and service departments, sales operations keeps its focus on sales department efficiency.

Within sales departments, many different functions exist in order to drive sales and improve customer experience, such as revenue operations and sales operations.

Many companies already have a sales operations team that is responsible for increasing efficiency within the sales department, but not all companies may be familiar with revenue operations (RevOps). Revenue operations could drive efficiency and revenue growth across the entire company.

The main difference is that sales operations primarily focuses on sales, while revenue operations focuses on multiple functions, such as finance, marketing, sales and customer service. When a company incorporates revenue operations, the sales team can focus on sales, while the revenue operations team can perform the behind-the-scenes work of collecting and handling data.

Let's look deeper at the functions, goals and components of revenue operations vs. sales operations.

Revenue operations

Revenue operations integrates sales, marketing, service and customer success operations and breaks down silos between departments. This strategy aims to connect data from sales, marketing and customer service departments, providing the business with a complete view of the customer at all points of the customer journey. Revenue operations aims to meet revenue goals, while providing a positive customer experience.

Sales operations -- unlike revenue operations, which deals with companywide operations -- is primarily responsible for supporting the operations of the sales department.

Revenue operations teams focus on driving revenue growth via operational efficiency, tying in customer-facing departments that directly affect the organization's revenue, such as marketing and service. However, revenue operations does not include internal departments, such as HR or legal.

Depending on the company, the primary focus of the revenue operations team can vary. For example, some companies focus more on marketing to drive revenue, while others focus more on sales or service. A revenue operations team can act as the central point for customer information and focuses on customer acquisition, customer churn and satisfaction, and other customer-centric metrics. Revenue operations teams use tools such as analytics and AI to discover trends and opportunities that drive revenue.

Businesses form revenue operations teams to manage the merging of these various departments. Some RevOps departments report to the CFO, while others add a chief revenue officer (CRO) that reports to either the CEO or CFO. Salesforce, for example, has a revenue operations department and an executive that reports directly to the CFO.

Sales operations

Sales operations -- unlike revenue operations, which deals with companywide operations -- is primarily responsible for supporting the operations of the sales department. The goal of sales operations is to improve sales performance by taking on sales enablement, sales data and strategic planning responsibilities and enabling sales representatives to focus more on selling. Sales operations teams use data analysis and sales forecasting to establish a sales strategy.

Some of the tasks that a sales operations team focuses on to improve the sales process include sales recruitment, onboarding and training; maintenance of team communication and collaboration channels; and contract lifecycle management.

Sales operations leaders should be familiar with CRM platforms, data analytics software, email automation and performance management software. Sales operations and sales leaders in an organization should collaborate and work closely to drive sales team efficiency and motivation.

While sales operations teams work primarily with sales departments, they can also work with marketing teams to improve brand messaging and content.

Sales operations teams report to a sales operations manager. The sales operations manager reports to the vice president of sales or the CRO, depending on the company's size.

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