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The Perks of Going Uphill in Sales Ops

If you’re heading out for a bike ride in our hometown, you have a couple of different options.

Option one is to take the paved greenbelt path that runs along the river. It’s completely flat with gentle, winding turns, and it’s shaded by the huge trees that grow near the water. You’ll probably see a lot of families with young kids and maybe even some senior citizens riding their “cruisers.” However, you probably won’t see a lot of “serious” mountain bikers on the greenbelt.

The folks who are really into biking generally take option two: heading into the foothills and mountains to the north and east of the city. These hills are covered in steep dirt trails with sharp, hairpin turns that dodge boulders and perch precariously on the edge of cliffs.

Now, obviously, the mountain trails are a much tougher ride than the greenbelt—especially when you are first starting your ride. After about two minutes, your legs will start to burn. Ten and your lungs are on fire. Fifteen and you’re starting to seriously doubt your sanity. But if you stick with it, after 20 or 30 minutes (or an hour if you’re really out of shape), you’ll reach the top of a hill with an absolutely breathtaking view. And after that, you’ll have a downhill ride that will give you a tremendous adrenaline rush and a great head start into climbing the next hill—which will probably only take half as long as the first hill.

When it comes to sales ops, a lot teams make the mistake of choosing option one—the safe, flat route that grannies and toddlers can handle. They pursue projects that we would consider “minor league” initiatives. Things like enabling electronic signatures or standardizing the templates for sales collateral. Sure, these things are nice, and maybe even important, but they don’t really have a very big impact on revenue generation or profitability.

Serious sales ops teams take the uphill route.

Yes, they might pick off some of the low-hanging fruit that gives them “quick wins,” but they also start tackling “major league” projects. Things like using analytics to drive account plans, providing focused negotiation training for the sales team, creating data-based opportunity forecasts, revamping the approach to inside sales or automating prospect cultivation. These things are a lot harder, but they have an impact that is proportionally much greater to the effort they require.

And just like in mountain biking, after you get one of these major initiatives up and running, you have an easy downhill coast afterward. The best of these projects are self-perpetuating; once you get them up and running, they just keep going without any additional intervention. You might even get a boost that makes it easier to tackle your next initiative.

And just like in mountain biking, the “uphill” climb is going to leave you in a lot better shape than the flat easy road.

We cover this idea in more depth in the webinar Avoiding the Top 7 Sales Ops Mistakes. It also points out several other major mistakes that B2B sales ops teams often make.

If you’re ready to get started on an “uphill” initiative, check out the webinars on Predictive Sales Analytics and/or Leading Edge Account and Territory Planning. Either of these types of projects can have a major impact on the bottom line—but they will take some work.

The easy path has its appeal. But if you want to be a serious sales ops team, you’re going to have to put in some work. That’s the only way to reap the benefits that industry-leading sales operations teams are able to achieve.

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