Sales and operations folks usually come from two different worlds. Sales is in a world of possibilities, opportunities and closing deals. Operations is in a world of organization, execution and closure. Often these two worlds are like planets shifted out of alignment. They are part of the same "solar system" but things just don't quite line up. This shouldn't be surprising. This happens in particular where a company's sales are filled with peaks and valleys. This happens with companies that sell "large deals", multi-unit sales and have seasonality in their business. Usually sales organizations don't really care beyond the sales executing and usually the operations persons are woefully ignorant of the sales pipeline in general.
One of the simpliest tools for aligning sales and operations is through an extended pipeline. A sales pipeline is a universally common tool for tracking and converting sales leads into closed sales deals. Salesforce.com built its core business on this "simple" business process and you'll find it in myriad other software companies large and small. Companies can do this same thing in a spreadsheet. You list an opportunity and total dollar sales amount potential. You track all the conversations, proposals, etc. and as you make progress you up the probability of success in closing the deal. 10 percent probability is a new lead just getting started and 100 percent means the sales deal has closed.
If you extend this concept of business process from just sales into payment collections, installation, service delivery, shipping of goods, etc. then you are "closing the loop" on your business processes. In other words you're extending the sales process into operations. You can simply add steps from a sales pipeline spreadsheet with operational steps.
Integrated and extended business pipelines allow complete forward and backwards views into the activities in a business. They allow operations to have a view into what is coming down the sales pipeline and preparing for the activity and it allows sales to set appropriate expectations with customers in the sales process. It can even help close deals. For example a sales person could see an opening in installation resources and convey that to the sales deal. "Hey if we can get this deal done next week I can have you up and running prior to end of the year when your budgets close out."
If you're looking to extend your business process tracking and align sales and operations then you need to have sales and operations have more combined meetings and shared common goals. If sales and operations share in the same incentive structures then they're more likely to work together. They also need more opportunity to communicate. Too often one party or the other has all the clout. That tends to be bad for the customers and the company overall. Sales management and operations management need to have the shared visions and common execution goals.
Extend your sales pipeline into a business execution pipeline. Add in all the major business process steps after a sales deal closes. Create your own metrics of competion. Track and reward these new steps. Have all managers sharing this new and extended view.