When we talk to companies about becoming more strategic, their initial response is almost always the same:
We would love to, but we just don’t have the time.
Frankly, that’s BS.
Every Sales Ops team is busy with tactical work. Nearly all of them feel overworked and understaffed. But some of them — the ones that are ultimately the most valuable to their companies and the most successful in their careers — find a way to make time.
How do they do it? Here are seven steps you can follow to find extra time in your schedule to prioritize strategic work:
1. Dedicate time on a regular cadence. Start by finding just one hour per week when your team can focus on strategic work. Then don’t let anything intrude on that time.
2. Recognize that people will find time for the things they want to do. Tell your team about the strategic work you want to do and why it could be so important for the company. When people understand the potential benefits for the organization — and for their own careers — and how interesting the work will be, it will be easier to find time.
3. Put everything on the table and redline the busywork. Every team wastes time doing things they don’t really need to do — often they are only doing those things because they always have. If something isn’t absolutely essential, put it on the chopping block.
4. Ensure the team feels secure to present ideas. No one will tell you they are wasting time doing things that aren’t necessary unless they feel absolutely confident that their jobs are secure. Make sure your team knows they are valued and respected, that you value their past contributions, and that you have no intentions of letting anyone go.
5. Be willing to restructure things to free up time and capacity. If you can’t kill a project, maybe you can do it in a different way so that you are more efficient. For example, maybe you group similar tasks together, so that instead of running one report each day, you run five reports all at once and save some time. Or maybe you automate the reports or alter the report contents slightly so that they take less time to produce. Be creative and ask your team for suggestions.
6. Be thoughtful about how a sub-team will be perceived. Creating a smaller subgroup focused on strategic initiatives can create resentment among the other team members. If you have a relatively small team, it’s probably best to involve everyone in the strategic efforts. If you have a larger team, you may have to create a sub-team, but make sure you do it in such a way that no one feels slighted.
For more tips, check out From Tactical to Strategic Sales Ops. It covers these points in more detail, and tells you what to do after that.
You should also take a look at the webinar on Exceptional Sales Ops Teams. It explains how other Sales Ops teams have overcome obstacles like those you face and have achieved high levels of success.
From Tactical to Strategic Sales Ops
Some teams are so mired in tactical grunt work and daily firefights that they never make progress on strategic pursuits. How have other Sales Ops teams transitioned into more strategic functions? What steps did they take?
Exceptional Sales Ops Teams
Sales Ops is still evolving and there are no long-standing rules for how everything should work. But there's a lot to learn from teams with a track record of success. In this on-demand webinar, we explore the common traits and mindsets of successful Sales Operations groups.