SBI spoke with Todd Doolittle, the recently appointed head of sales operations at Concentra. Concentra is the leader in occupational health with over 300 medical centers across the United States. After many years as a successful sales VP, director, and manager, Todd has spent the last few months overcoming the challenges of a new sales ops leader. As this role has become more and more critical to organizations, Todd brought insight into the opportunities faced in those critical first few months.
Prior to his new role Todd spent 15 years with Concentra in the sales organization. During this time, he became impatient with gaps in the sales process, how the sales team utilized the CRM and the misalignment between sales compensation and actions in the field. When the company was recently sold, and undergoing a restructuring, Todd seized the opportunity to make a difference in the area of sales operations. He shared with us how he was able to be successful in those first few months.
The First 100 Days
As Todd began his role, what were some of his priorities and his biggest challenges? “The first mandate, and really the most important, was to create organizational confidences in sales operations in general,” explained Todd. Ultimately, he needed to build confidence with the sales teams through his actions.
During the first few months, Todd faced several challenges. For example, despite his long tenure with the organization, it was unclear where the information and data lied. As the newly appointed sales ops leader, it was very difficult at first to track down and find the information he needed to be successful.
And as a new leader, he was inundated with requests for improvement. Everyone has their own idea of what needs to be fixed first, and why. “It became overwhelming very quickly; I recognized immediately that I was going to need to pare some things down and prioritize, or I was going to get swallowed up with the sheer volume of requests and needs for improvement that were coming in,” explained Todd. How did he overcome this? Strategically he looks at where the biggest gaps were, and most importantly, where he could make a change that would give them the biggest bang for their buck. It was important to get those first few quick wins for the sales ops team. It was key to building confidence in the sales ops team.
Todd’s thought process led him to two key areas where he could make the most impact – sales compensation, and their use of CRM. First, he needed to design a comp plan that aligned with the company goals. It needed to move their sales team from a farmer mentality to a hunter mentality. Secondly, though they had a CRM, it wasn’t being used correctly and they lacked adoption in the field. Todd had to think through what changes were needed in order to see the value in the system, and enable compliance. Essentially, the first 100 days were about making those critical changes, and getting buy in from the organization in order to move in the right direction.
Getting a Lot Done with Minimal Resources
Often time the sales ops team has a modest budget. Todd’s team at Concentra is no exception to this rule. There are 3 keys to overcoming this from Todd’s perspective.
- Surround yourself with good people. As a sales ops leader, you must be able to rely on your team to carry out tasks; you can’t do it alone.
- Build relationships. Todd tackled the lack of relationships head on and built an environment of collaboration at Concentra.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. Often sales ops leaders are given unrealistic expectations. Be candid and clear about what you need to be successful, and about how long it will take to accomplish.
As a new sales operations period, you simply cannot blow your honeymoon period. It’s your best chance set expectations of how the sales ops team will be viewed inside the organization. You must elevate sales ops from tactical contributor to strategic differentiator. Todd has been able to successfully do this at Concentra. Consider downloading our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017, for more help. It’s a sales ops leader’s guide to effectively and efficiently supporting the sales team.