Insights & Tips

Already a subscriber? Login

Become a subscriber and unlock an information arsenal focused on making your sales operation more effective.

Avoiding Surprises in Sales Ops

Futurist Karl Shroeder says, “Foresight is not about predicting the future, it’s about minimizing surprise.”

Over the past few years, we’ve all experienced a good bit of surprise. Pandemics. Supply chain interruptions. Civil unrest. War. Mass shootings. Extreme weather. Labor shortages. Many of these events caught even the most revered prognosticators unaware.

With so much uncertainty in the recent past, it can be tempting to give up on any attempt at planning. None of us really knows what is coming in the year ahead. What hope do we have of putting together a reasonable business plan for the coming quarter, let alone the entire year? Life has seemed so much like a roller coaster that you might think all you can do is throw your hands in the air, scream, and hope to survive.

But believe it or not, uncertainty can actually be an asset.

When things have been going along on a steady course for a while, many business leaders become complacent. They assume that next year will be much like the year before. As a result, in good times, many B2B firms fail to make solid contingency plans. And frankly, that’s the situation many organizations were in just a few years ago.

But when you’ve had a couple of topsy-turvy years, you understand that almost anything could happen. That puts you in the right frame of mind for considering possibilities.

As you plan for the year ahead, we encourage you to think through some “what if?” scenarios. Brainstorm with your team about what might happen in the coming year and think through what your organization would need to do in response.

Often, this exercise results in a recognition that your firm might not be very well prepared for some circumstances — including situations that aren’t all that unlikely in the 12 months ahead. Consider what you would need to do to be better prepared and start making the changes you need to be better positioned to weather a coming storm. That might involve adopting new perspectives on how sales ops will need to react to customers, competitors, or the broader market. It might mean developing a new approach to setting sales targets and defining account plans. Or it might require something else, depending on the particulars of your company and industry.

Inevitably, some of those “what if?” scenarios will become “what now?” scenarios. As the quote from Shroeder implies, a little foresight — and preparation — in the present can make it much easier to respond to whatever the future brings.

SellingBrew has several resources that can help you think through some of those “what ifs”:

  • Selling Through Uncertainty deals very directly with the challenges of managing unpredictability. It provides guidance for developing the most helpful mindset and how to leverage data and research to minimize risk.
  • Developing Better Forecasts covers seven things that leading B2B sales ops teams are doing differently to improve their predictions and sales targets.
  • Leading Edge Account and Territory Planning examines current best practices and offers suggestions for improving your team’s planning and forecasting capabilities.

Of course, it’s impossible to anticipate the exact nature every potential event. But by better preparing for a range of possibilities, you’ll lessen the impact of any particular surprise. And that’s what forecasting is really all about.

Get Immediate Access To Everything In The SellingBrew Playbook

Related Resources

  • Maximizing & Measuring Sales Tools

    How do you get everything you can out of your investments in sales tools? In this session, learn about a proven five phase best practice framework for becoming more proactive and effective.

    View This Webinar
  • How to Gear Up for Growth

    In this informative interview, sales effectiveness expert Michael Perla discusses a number of crucial strategic considerations that are often overlooked by sales operations in their tactical pursuit of growth.

    View This Interview
  • Conducting Whitespace Analytics

    What if there was a way to analyze all of your customers at once, identify the whitespace opportunities, and serve them up to the sales team on a platter? Learn the seven step process for doing just that.

    View This Webinar
  • How to Maximize Cross-Selling and Up-Selling

    Effective cross-selling and up-selling requires operational solutions that only Sales Ops can deliver. In this on-demand webinar, learn how some innovative groups are making happen---efficiently, effectively, and very profitably

    View This Webinar