Sometimes it may feel like the role of the Sales Ops organization is more of a rule maker than a true business partner. The Sales Operations team provides guidance and processes to ensure that a sales organization is running as efficiently and effectively as possible. Of course Sales Ops wants to see the sales organization be successful, with revenue being maximized and all commissions paid on time. But the functions of managing territory assignment, compensation planning, CRM monitoring and reporting on sales metrics may seem like a lot of process and overhead for account managers just trying to retire their quotas.
How can Sales Ops be viewed as a business partner rather than just another overhead function? Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the Account Manager and see how to be more relevant within the sales organization. The three key actions outlined below are a good place to start.
How many times have you actually listened to the internal and external challenges that the sales team is facing? When I was rolling out a large scale program that would impact thousands of salespeople, I was pleased (and a little surprised), at the positive reception we received around the proposed changes. When I thanked one of the sellers for their assistance and support, her response amazed me. She actually thanked me for asking for their opinion!
Generally, system and process changes were driven top down from the corporate headquarters. There was no advance socialization, no change management and no feedback loop. Whether proposed changes are going to be in sales coverage, compensation or Sales Force Dot Com (SFDC) usage, how do you know what the ‘right’ changes are if no one is accountable enough to engage with the impacted parties? The simple art of asking for feedback, and then really listening to what you hear, is more powerful than you imagine.
Once you have taken the time to listen, taking action should be the next step. Place yourself in the role of a salesperson. How is Sales Ops adding efficiency to their day-to-day role? Do Account Managers have a clear understanding of the coverage model and account assignments? Do they know how to use the mandatory corporate tools like SFDC? Are their compensation checks easy to understand? If they have questions on any of the above, do they know who to call?
If the answer is ‘no’, make a point to try and provide answers to potential questions and address any disconnects. By taking action to streamline/simplify processes and activities impacting your sales team's effectiveness, you will become more of a valued business partner. Not to mention more appreciated, as well!
Now that you’ve shown you are focused on sales pain points, by helping to alleviate administrative work, get engaged. See where you can participate in sales calls. Ask to go on a customer visit (or two) to hear firsthand how your company can address customer’s business problems as well as to see what competitive pressures are facing your sales organization.
Visit a channel partner in addition to a direct customer. Discern which opportunities can you help address cross functionally. Should there be more marketing programs to highlight product solutions? Better lead times from manufacturing? Better pricing from the finance organization? Demonstrate how you can be a ‘corporate liaison’ for your sales organization.
Elevating your role as a strategic partner will not only be beneficial to the sales organization, but it will allow you to become a better business partner to your company, as well. Let Sales Operations become a business leader within your company, and who knows how far you will go!
Are you a Sales Leader looking to elevate your Sales Operations team? Visit www.opspanda.com for additional tips & helpful planning templates.