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You Can’t Hire “Ready Made” Sales Ops People

We’re hearing from many Sales Ops leaders who are looking to hire. For a long time…sometimes years…they’ve been told to hold tight. But now that the economic situation is looking up, they’re finally getting the thumbs-up on their plans to hire additional headcount.

So we’re often asked about what they should expect…

On the one hand, we can attest that there are many more Sales Operations groups in existence today than there were just five short years ago. Even under somewhat shaky and uncertain economic conditions, lots of companies have added Sales Ops functions to their org charts.

And as a result, you can now expect to find that there are far more candidates with at least some Sales Ops experience on their resumes.

On the other hand, because there are so many more Sales Ops groups in existence today…and they, too, are looking to grow their ranks…there’s bound to be more competition for potential candidates.

But all that being said, it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll find “ready made” or “perfect fit” candidates for your Sales Ops positions anyway.

Sales Operations is still a relatively new function in the corporate landscape. As such, there are few well-established and broadly-accepted rules, definitions, and mandates. And as we’ve witnessed ourselves, the Sales Ops functions in different companies…even within the same industry…can be very different animals.

Therefore, when hiring for Sales Ops, we recommend:

  • Focusing your recruiting efforts on finding fantastic “raw materials” rather than counting on finding some perfect “finished goods”.
  • Planning to leverage ongoing training and development to convert those raw materials into the finished goods you really need.

Given the realities of the overall situation, you’re not going to get away with trying to hire people who already know so much that they don’t have to be trained. While that sort of strategy may fly to some extent in other, more established functions and practices areas, it’s still a non-starter in Sales Ops.

No matter what their resumes may say, the odds are pretty low that your new hires are going to know everything they need to know about Sales Ops on day one. And simply relying on trial and error, sink or swim, or “organizational osmosis” to eventually close those knowledge gaps is not only inefficient, it’s also extremely risky—for the organization, the hiring manager, and the new hires.

So as you look to expand your team, be sure to budget for ongoing training and development. Even if you have to reduce your plans for additional headcount a little in order to make all the numbers work, training is a necessary part of the equation in Sales Ops—because you just can’t count on finding “ready made” candidates.

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