To be successful in Sales Ops requires quite a variety of abilities. You need to have some level of capability around creating repeatable processes and managing structured systems. You should have an understanding of business principles, as well as a working knowledge of basic sales and marketing concepts. And of course, you’ll also need some solid people skills in order to educate and influence others in your organization.
But there’s one essential set of skills that is often overlooked: investigative abilities.
Why do Sales Ops practitioners need to be good investigators? Because sales problems are very often just the most obvious symptoms of some other underlying issues and root causes. And as Sherlock Holmes once said, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
In a sales operation with lots of moving parts, it’s almost always a mistake to react to an “obvious problem” with an “obvious solution” without first fully investigating the issue. If you make assumptions about why a particular problem is occurring and take action without discovering the true root cause, you are just as likely to make things worse as to correct the situation.
In order to be a good sales detective, you’ll have to set aside your pre-conceived notions and avoid the temptation to jump to conclusions. You’ll need to ask more thoughtful questions and dig deeper to find the real answers. And in many cases, you’ll also need to have the fortitude and courage to shine a light on whatever your investigations have uncovered.
If you want to make yourself more valuable to your employer (or future employers), one of the best things you can do is hone your ability to think critically about sales problems, diagnose their true root causes, and prescribe solutions that effectively address those problems, now and well into the future.
So the next time someone comes to you with an “obvious” sales problem, be sure to reach for your private investigator’s hat…and put away that box of Band-Aids.