Breaking the Sales Prevention Barrier: A Guide to High Performance Sales Operations
November 1, 2011 4 Comments
“What does Sales Operations do?”
The answer to that question is critical not just to my clients, who are trying to build their own high-performance Sales Operations, but to the Sales Ops professionals who find themselves struggling to describe the various roles that they play in their company.
I like to answer with another question: “what should Sales Operations do, at your company, at this time?”
Because Sales Ops is a pendulum for most successful companies – it will swing closer to sales (field-facing) in times when top-line growth is the highest priority…. and swing closer to finance (operations-facing) in times when fiscal controls are the highest priority. And Sales Ops ranges from the highly strategic planning that occurs on an annual basis to the tactical day-to-day support of a sales force.
In those moments when Sales Ops is highly operations-facing, they can alienate the sales teams by seeming to be a barrier to getting sales done quickly. More than once, I’ve heard a sales rep joke about Sales Ops as more like “sales prevention”!
The key to a high-performance Sales Operations function within your company is maintaining that balance, not in the middle but at the point where Sales Ops can help a company best meet its strategic goals at that moment in time. And to be seen as a partner to the sales teams across every aspect of Sales Operations – that’s how to “break the sales prevention barrier”.
The below diagram is a synthesis of my work with the Sales Ops teams across hundreds of companies across a wide-spectrum of industries and size.
In a small company, a single individual may play all of these roles – it may even be the VP of Sales themselves.
But in larger companies, you will see a wide range of roles that are “sales-related”, all reporting under a single VP of Sales Operations. Those teams are often tasked with defining what’s within their scope of responsibilities and I hope this graphic helps in that discussion.
Please add your comments to this post with how this matches to your own experiences!