Cutting-edge initiatives for driving top-line growth through sales department optimization are making an impact on the middle market.

The Operating Partner/Operating Executive role in private equity has been consistently evolving over the past two decades. An OP role is no longer considered the last chapter of a storied career, but is a viable opportunity for professionals in their peak earning years. Most funds no longer view OPs as opportunistic firefighters, but rather, as necessary and proactive value creators.

Today, sponsors have grown their operating ranks dramatically across most functions, including hiring Operating Executives who specialize in general management, finance, operations, and human capital. Funds are now moving toward adding a new operating focus to their arsenal of resources: sales excellence.

As PE firms face higher prices and more rivals for successful exits, they need to do everything in their power to drive growth faster in order to sell at larger multiples. Part of that equation is boosting organic growth by adding a sales and commercial focus to their operating teams.

“The focus on sales has really increased in the world of private equity,” says Drew Zarges, senior director of sales excellence at The Riverside Company. “If you go back 20 or 30 years, sales was sort of the oddball of the organization. But mid-market firms are realizing that a strong sales strategy backed up by processes that are truly best in class are not only foundational to a healthy scalable sales organization, but can also lead to even higher valuations at exit because of better data.”

Historically, P...