By understanding the sales force issues and announcing your intentions to serve them differently, you will be taking the first steps to transform the group from tactical to strategic.

Nobody wants to be the bad guy.  Setting up rules and guidelines for the sales force to follow feels an awful lot like being a parent to a group of rowdy teenagers.  Enter this information here, follow this new process there, make sure you complete all of the forms on time.  Somebody has to hold the sales force accountable, right?

 

Unfortunately, this is the only way a lot of Sales Operations teams are perceived within their organizations.  When most people think of Sales Operations, they immediately picture a very tactical group creating and enforcing procedures…and that’s it.

 

What happened? Wasn’t Sales Operations created to be a business partner to support and enable the sales force?  What can be done to shift Sales Operations from a group of tactical rule makers into a strategic team that helps the sales force drive revenue?  Follow these steps below to get started.

 

Download The Initiative Impact Tool to stack rank initiatives based on impact and effort, identify what areas are not working as effectively as they could be, and increase time spent on direct selling activities.

 

Look Through the Eyes of Your Customers

 

The first step in elevating the role of Sales Operations is to understand what problems and issues the sales force is facing today.  Have you asked sales managers and reps what their biggest pain points are lately?  How often do you formally solicit the feedback of the sales force before rolling out a new policy or process?

 

Even if you can’t incorporate all of their ideas, the act of asking for opinions and feedback is an important step toward building trust.  Look through the eyes of a sales rep to understand where you can add the most value for them.  Once you demonstrate that you have their best interest in mind, they will be more likely to share information about what pain points they have.  This information is critical if you want to elevate your relationship and be viewed as a strategic thought partner.

 

I recall working with a veteran Sales Operations leader to create balanced territories for their sales team.  He was adamant that we needed to follow their usual annual process and dismissed most of the data driven recommendations that we were making.  After spending 2 consecutive days in workshops, we were at a stalemate.  I had to try another approach, so I simply asked him what his biggest issues were with our approach.  It turned out he was only concerned with keeping a few key accounts mapped to his top sales manager and we were able to reach an easy compromise.  I needed to look at the problem through his perspective before I could understand how to serve him better.

 

Re-Brand Sales Operations and Kickoff Your New Charter

 

Next, hold a kick off meeting to announce a new approach for serving the sales force.  It’s time to change Sales Operations from the group that inherits projects nobody else wants to do into a pro-active enablement function.

 

Dust off your charter and update it to communicate your goal to become a strategic business partner.  Use this kick off as an opportunity to align with sales, as well as to co-develop a list of the top 10 initiatives that can immediately drive revenue and have the most positive impact on the sales team.

 

Download The Initiative Impact Tool to stack rank initiatives based on impact and effort.  Identify what areas are not working as effectively as they could be to increase time spent on direct selling activities.  Look for ways to help with time consuming functions such as forecasting & pipeline reporting, managing territory assignment, compensation planning, CRM monitoring, or reporting on sales productivity metrics.  Message your intentions and restating your charter will set the tone for becoming a strategic business partner to the sales force.

 

Serve Your Key Stakeholders 1 to 1

 

Treat the sales force as critical customers for Sales Operations to serve.  Think of this like a customer success model and apply it to how you serve your stakeholders on the sales team.  Map key stakeholders to a primary contact within Sales Operations to make it easier to do business with and open up lines of communication.  Establish a regular cadence with sales leaders to stay aligned with their goals.

 

Use these meetings to continuously assess how well Sales Operations is enabling them.  Do Account Managers clearly understand the coverage model and their account assignments?  Do they know how to properly utilize different systems like SFDC?  Are their compensation payouts easy to understand?  If they have questions or need support, do they know who to contact?

 

Read our article titled “5 Ways Sales Operations Can Champion Customer Experience” for more on this topic.

 

Proactively setting meetings to help streamline how the sales force accomplishes tasks will elevate your value as an enabling function.

 

Activate – Stay Involved

 

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for elevating your relationship, make sure you follow through and deliver.  Look for opportunities to join sales meetings or even sales calls.  Conduct win/loss reviews to capture customer feedback and update battle cards or win strategies.  Send the sales team relevant content or white papers on topics that will arm them with information in front of their customers.  Stay proactive in your approach to seek and understand where the sales force can benefit from support.

 

Putting It All Together

 

By understanding the sales force issues and announcing your intentions to serve them differently, you will be taking the first steps to transform the group from tactical to strategic.  Demonstrating your value that you bring will strengthen this relationship and elevate Sales Operations into a business partner that helps drive revenue.

 

Download The Initiative Impact Tool to stack rank initiatives based on impact and effort, identify what areas are not working as effectively as they could be, and increase time spent on direct selling activities.

 

 

Additional Resources

 

Schedule a working session at SBI’s Studio. 

 

Located in Dallas, TX, our facility offers state-of-the-art meeting rooms, lounge, full-service bar, and a studio used to tape our TV shows. SBI provides the location and facilitators, all at a compelling price point.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Garrett Ryan

Combines data-driven analysis with creative solutions ensuring clients make their number.

Prior to joining SBI, Garrett has served in a variety of finance, tax, and accounting leadership roles.  Using a data driven approach, he has developed tools to help organizations measure and grow their revenue.  Working with Marketing leaders, he has built models to help attribute revenue to key initiatives and track progress against previous norms.  Utilizes cutting edge tools to help visualize the success of product launches into new markets.  Areas of expertise include financial modeling, strategy development, concept implementation, risk mitigation, and creative problem solving.  Garrett’s experience allows him to translate complex information into bottom line, actionable insights.

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