Is Sales Ops the New Salesforce Admin?

Shifts in the Salesforce Admin role have been gaining attention in recent years, defining what a Salesforce Admin does has been a long-standing challenge. Admins often wear ‘many hats’ with responsibilities that vary depending on the organization they work for. This is particularly true in smaller organizations where a Salesforce Admin can quite easily find themselves taking on duties as a Business Analyst, Trainer, Tester, and more.

Why Ops, why now? The Sales Ops team works closely with the sales team to implement processes that enable them to sell more effectively and efficiently.

With Salesforce the lifeblood for most sales teams, it makes sense that Salesforce Admins are well-suited to a Sales Ops career, repackaging their deep knowledge of Sales Cloud and pairing it with commercial acumen. However, without a background in sales optimization, this is a transformation that doesn’t happen overnight for a typical Salesforce Admin. That being said, new expectations placed on Admins means many are stepping into an ops role – even if they aren’t fully aware of it.

“Is Ops the New Admin?” was a panel discussion, in partnership with Tenth Revolution Group, moderated by Dal Bamford, and featured Eric DreshfieldJustice SikakaneAndy Engin Utkan, and Lucy Mazalon (plus an engaged audience who shared their valuable viewpoints). This article dives deeper into the points covered.

Has Salesforce’s evolution over the past 10 years changed the Admin role?

Short answer: a resounding yes.

Salesforce technology touches hundreds of thousands across the globe daily; you only need to take a peek at the IDC report to get an idea of Salesforce’s direct and indirect reach. If you think back 10 years, only a small fraction of people in the Salesforce ecosystem now would have been around back then.

In terms of technology, Salesforce had just started branching out from its core Sales Cloud and Service Cloud offerings. Take marketing automation, for example. Although marketing automation is a key part of overall CRM, it wasn’t even part of the Salesforce offering a decade ago. And of course, we are talking about a time before the crazy acquisition spree in 2016!

Salesforce’s growth, the speed and its scope, has without a doubt influenced the Admin’s role.

1. Expanding tech stacks: 

As Salesforce grows its platform, an admin could be overseeing much more (not only new products but also new features within existing products). Additional responsibilities are dished out as customers buy and bolt-on more Salesforce products – or integrated products.

2. Endless customization capabilities: 

While empowering for no-code admins, the challenge now is to configure Salesforce with purpose – and prioritize what will push the business forward. 

3. Higher expectations from users:

Salesforce’s reputation as ‘best of breed’ has solidified. Instant gratification is the norm for users who interact with frictionless user experiences in all corners of their lives.

From ‘Switches and dials’, to Specialization

“The Admin was once the person who knew where all the ‘switches and dials’ were within Salesforce setup. While this remains important, with the growth of the platform, the biggest shift is in specialization – both within industries and products.” – Andy Engin Utkan

Example: Collaboration on the Salesforce Platform

Let’s use one expanding slice of the Salesforce tech stack as an example. ‘Collaboration’ was one theme the panelists honed in on, considering innovations around Quip, and shortly, Slack. The impact on user experience, how Salesforce will become even more entrenched in organisations, will contribute to what’s expected of Admins:

“We started with Chatter back in the day, with the view that it would remove email. It didn’t. The Slack acquisition completes the Salesforce vision of true collaboration, so this will fundamentally shift the role of admin.” – Eric Dreshfield

What do businesses now need, or expect, from their Salesforce Admin?

Short answer: an Admin unicorn with strong business acumen.

The momentum from Salesforce’s innovation has been met with another force: business expectations.

As organizations’ become ever more reliant on Salesforce, their desire to deliver results from their strategic investment grows, too. Salesforce’s effective marketing messaging sells the dream – someone has to deliver it. Enter today’s modern Admin.


“The Admin is starting to wear different hats – there is a governing role of how the platform is scaling and how that can impact the business within which it’s implemented – there is an evolution whereby the Admin should become the product owner.”

The Salesforce Admin/Analyst

“The role of the Admin should never be regarded as trivial. The role encompasses so much that it needs to be viewed as a strategic function, closer to a Business Analyst role.” – Eric Dreshfield

Commercial Acumen

“Admins should align more to the business. For example, from a Sales Cloud perspective, the responsibility of the Admin is to understand the commercial side – how the sales process goes, how the sales team works – that way, they work towards maximizing salesperson and customer effectiveness.” – Justice Sikakane

Is Sales Ops/RevOps a better description for the modern Admin’s responsibilities?

Short answer: Sales Ops/RevOps is a team/business function who work closely with the sales team to implement processes that enable them to sell more effectively and efficiently. This more closely describes the emerging Admin/Business Analyst blend.

Sales Operations and Revenue Operation intersecting with Admin responsibilities over the past few years has not gone unnoticed. This trend has been happening in tandem, or possibly as a result of, the Admin-Analyst.

Could this be one formula that got us to where we are now?

Salesforce Admin + Business Analyst skills + commercial acumen/sales optimization = Sales Ops/RevOps Specialist

Salesforce Admins vs. Sales Ops

Here is a basic (generalized) outline of the differences between Admins and Sales Ops/RevOps:

  • Team alignment: it was common in the past for the Admin to sit within the IT team. Some organizations choose to align their Salesforce Admin as part of the operations team.
  • Overseeing the Salesforce org: Admins work on the whole Salesforce org, whereas Sales Ops only concern themselves with parts of the Salesforce org that drive revenue-generating activities eg. lead and opportunity management, marketing automation, revenue recognition.
  • How vs. why: Admins were traditionally responsible for outlining/implementing the ‘how’, rather than ops/analysts who would outline the ‘why’.
  • Ops/analysts would play a role in requirements gathering and stakeholder management; these are two responsibilities most Admins now take on.

Overlapping Responsibilities

Vanessa Grant (from the audience) flagged the overlapping nature of multiple roles. Instead of co-existing, could they instead become a single role?

“Product Owner, RevOps, Admin, Analyst – all of these roles are starting to blend together and it’s incredibly confusing. How should these roles co-exist without everyone stepping on each other’s responsibilities?” – Vanessa Grant

So, yes, Ops could be the new Admin, however…

Read the full blog at the link below!


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