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This One Thing Kills Progress in Sales Ops

In sales ops, coming up with new things to try is often easy (especially if you’re a SellingBrew subscriber). But convincing the rest of the team or the company to go along with a new idea is far more challenging. As the economist John Maynard Keynes once wrote, “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”

In other words, the one thing that kills new ideas is old ideas.

It might seem strange to be discussing the staying power of old ideas in relation to sales ops. After all, it’s a relatively new discipline, and the field is still in the process of developing standard ways of doing things.

However, no matter how young or old we are, we all have an innate preference for doing things the way we’ve done them in the past. After all, if something “ain’t broke, why fix it?” And even when it’s obvious that one of our processes or tactics is not working, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

Within an organization, that love for doing things the same old way gets multiplied because you have so many people involved. You don’t just have to overcome the inertia of one or two people who are set in their ways, you have to get every single stakeholder moving in the same direction, and that might be dozens, or in some cases, even hundreds or thousands of people. And some of them really, really, really don’t want to move.

Frequently, the veterans in the company are the ones holding back progress—not because they don’t want things to improve but because they believe they’ve already solved the problem you are trying to address. They may have already grappled with the same issue and come up with what they believe to be the best solution.

Convincing them otherwise is going to take a great deal of persuasion—and tact.

That’s one of the reasons why we often say that outstanding sales ops professionals need to have a lot of people skills as well as an affinity for business and numbers. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how good your ideas are if you can’t convince anyone else to go along with you.

The good news is that these are skills you can learn. (Yes, really, we mean it.) While some people naturally have more charisma than others, everyone can learn the key techniques for facilitating change. And while it might seem that your company (or the members of a particular team within your company) is the absolute worst on the planet for trying new things, we guarantee that these skills can help.

In our humble opinion (ok, maybe not so humble), one of the best and most important webinars we’ve ever put together for sales ops practitioners is on Making Change Happen. It outlines a process for getting people to truly change their minds—not just go along with your suggestions grudgingly. If you’ve never watched it, we invite you to do so. You might just learn some new ideas for getting people to accept new ideas.

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