• Steve Silver of Forrester introduced the latest version of the SiriusDecisions Sales Operations Sunburst at Summit 2020
  • The Sales Operations Sunburst Model defines the core responsibilities of sales operations
  • The new version of the model provides a detailed breakdown of six key accountabilities

How productive is your sales organization compared to what’s possible? How can sales operations leaders assess their progress at driving sales productivity? What new capabilities and responsibilities should be included in the sales operations roadmap for the next three to five years? Steve Silver addressed each of these questions yesterday as he unveiled the latest version of the SiriusDecisions Sales Operations Sunburst Model at Summit 2020.

sun-over-hillsThe new version of the model reflects ongoing changes in the sales operations discipline. “In the last few years, as the needs of our sellers, buyers, and customers have continued to change, so have the requirements for sales operations,” said Steve. “As sales operations leaders and practitioners, we have to be aware of the impact of these changes and adapt our organization to meet their needs today and in the future.”

One of the key changes in the model is to include sales compensation as a primary accountability, whereas in the original version, it was subsumed in sales planning and strategy. “Sales compensation is its own unique discipline,” said Steve. “It requires its own set of skills, unique modeling, and unique analysis to make sure our compensation plans are directly aligned with our corporate objectives and that they are perceived as equitable and fair and understood by the sales organization.”

Significant changes were also made to the measurement, reporting, and analysis accountability, as well as sales technology. A new emphasis on analytics capabilities was added to reflect that the sales operations is evolving beyond reports and dashboard production into advanced analytics and artificial intelligence. In the technology area, the changes reflect a focus on working cross-functionally and ensuring that sales technology investments are delivering value for the organization, users, and customers.

“The final category that we added is revenue engine alignment,” said Steve. “This is a reflection of changes in buyer behavior and seller needs. Sales operations must look more broadly than just the silo of the sales function. We have to be thinking about how this technology impacts marketing and customer success. What does it do across the entire revenue engine? How do we evolve our processes to make sure we are meeting the needs of both our sellers and our customers?”

With these changes, the new version of the model now includes six primary accountabilities: sales planning; sales compensation design and management; sales measurement, reporting, and analysis; sales process design and management; sales technology; and revenue alignment. Each of these primary accountabilities is then subdivided into five to 10 basic responsibilities and a similar number of advanced responsibilities. As the sales operations discipline continues to evolve — and as each organization progresses from tactical to strategic and integrated levels of operations maturity — the Sunburst Model provides a guide to the specific operational responsibilities that organizations should assess and execute.

Steve emphasized that the Sunburst Model needs to be customized by each organization: “This is not a one-size-fits-all model,” he said. “We recognize that each organization is different. Your go-to-market model is different, your architecture is different, and the size and needs of your sales organization are different. So what you will finally end up with is a tailored version of the model.”

Starting with the standard Sunburst Model as a reference point, each organization needs to go through a process of assessing its current state. Which of the responsibilities within the model is the sales operations function currently executing, and at what level of maturity and success does it execute them?

The next step is to collaborate with stakeholders to determine which responsibilities should remain within or be added to a sales operations charter. This step should be completed in consultation with sales operations stakeholders to establish a shared understanding of what the operations team will prioritize and what new capabilities it will develop over the next three to five years.

“Use that charter exercise to think about not just what do we need to be next year, but look three to five years into the future,” Steve concluded. “Consider how your customers will change — back to those dynamics of human interactions. What’s happening in the marketplace? What’s happening with your sellers? What’s happening with your buyers, your prospects and your customers that will require sales operations to adapt?”