Recently, I was with a client discussing their long-range strategy for sales. Core to their strategy was tightening their alignment with Marketing and Product Development. It quickly became crystal clear how important Sales Ops was to this EVP.
The organization is a Fortune 500 global player. Many of their clients are worldwide leaders in their industry sectors. The sales leader has a strong and focused personality. Even still, Sales Ops has significant influence in key decisions for this client.
I’ve been in many similar meetings with very different results. Most companies don’t have sales ops functions with so much clout. What differentiates those teams with influence from those without?
Download our Sales Ops Clout Assessment to gauge how much influence you have. The Scorecard will help you gain influence and support key decisions.
Certainly having the right sales ops leader with the right support is ideal. Regardless of the specific leader, taking these steps will increase your influence.
Clout Builder #1 – Access to and Use of Data
“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need” – You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Mick Jagger / Keith Richards
Draw a parallel from this classic Stones song to sales ops’ need for reliable, timely data. It is the price of entry for world-class sales ops. You have to find a way to make this happen. Without it, gut-feel will reign. Instinct is important when based in experience. Instinct based on data and experience is far superior. For a recent post on this subject, click here
If you have to build a temporary repository off-line, do so. It may take away some efficiencies but absence of data is a death sentence to sales ops.
Clout Builder #2 – Business Acumen
Once you have the data, how will you apply it? Business acumen is essential to the sales ops leader and their team. Great analysts without business acumen are like a drill without drill-bits. Logical, experienced and contextual analysis applied correctly to the right business problem. Quick but informed decisions are needed today to thrive. Do you have this critical skill set woven into your team?
Business acumen will serve you well in building credibility across the organization. The last thing a sales rep wants is some lofty, disconnected process put on their to-do list. A cool tool with little basis in the real world is useless. There are easy ways to build this within your team. Make it a required activity for team members to get into the field. Have them shadow finance, operations and marketing. Rotate through sales’ on-boarding for a day or two.
Clout Builder #3 – Build Your Business Case
Virtually everything you do in sales ops requires time, money or both. Any sales leader worth a darn is going to ask you for some form of business case. Having a strong foundation in Clout Builders 1 and 2, you’ll be prepared. Without the ability to monetize the outcome, you’ll get turned down.
Confirm your needed inputs along the way with others. Bad assumptions with no validation will doom you. If a new business intelligence platform will save time, figure out the reduced costs. If new mapping software allows you to build more efficient territories, do the math. Sales Process development and good adoption will deliver tangible revenue uplift. Look everywhere for the financial impacts. One last point here – get someone in finance to review, shoot holes and get buy-in before presenting.
Clout Builder #4 – Unify the Sales Strategy
Work closely with your Sales leader and other functional heads to pull this together. A sales strategy in a silo will not get traction. It’s a fact that if nothing is sold, there’s no need for the business. However, to grow and dominate in your market sales you need partnership. Marketing, Operations, Product, HR and Finance are all needed to fire on all cylinders.
Job one is to determine what you can do for the other leaders. Sales buy-in can help Marketing make their revenue objectives. Sales can help the Product group build more relevant products to reach goal. Sales can play an important role in success for each of these functions. Be the one that brings the olive branch and you’ll be amazed at what follows.
Download our Sales Ops Clout Assessment now to build your influence and impact. You and your team should be at the center of driving improved results.
Standing on the sidelines when the big decisions are made is no fun. Get your data and use it wisely. Understand your business and the marketplace. Build your business cases with validated inputs that make sense. Get outside of your silo and connect the dots in partnership.