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Sales Operations Shouldn’t Support Sales?

Ok…I’ll admit that in the past, I was somewhat less…shall we say…diplomatic…about expressing my views on the proper role of Sales Operations.

When someone would suggest that Sales Ops was simply about “supporting” the salespeople, the vein on the side of my head would begin to throb, my jaw would tighten, my teeth would clench, and I would growl something snarky like, “To do that, won’t we have to assume that the salespeople actually know what they should be doing?”

In my defense, the generally-accepted notion of “sales support” at the time was all about taking marching orders from sales managers, or even individual sales reps.

And knowing how real, strategic Sales Operations could drive exponential growth, there was no way I could accept the notion of sitting back, waiting to be told about the latest desperate plans to “save the quarter”, and just executing those schemes without question.

Today, however, I have a slightly different perspective…

Now don’t get me wrong…I still believe that Sales Operations is about building and tuning a company’s whole “selling machine.” And I still believe that Sales Ops should be involved in plotting the course and steering the ship…and not just toiling away at the oars.

But these days, I’ve come to rely on a different definition of “sales support” to temper my…well…temper.

Sales Ops shouldn’t support sales in the sense of taking orders, doing the grunt work that others don’t want to do, or just blindly executing whatever tactics someone in the field might come up with this month.

Instead, I believe Sales Ops should think of sales support as enabling the sales team to achieve their full potential.

It’s not about waiting around to receive marching orders…it’s about being proactive, recognizing what needs to happen, and leading the way.

It’s not about giving salespeople what they say they want…it’s about figuring what they really need in order to be most effective and successful.

And it’s not about breathlessly executing desperate tactics to “save the quarter”…it’s about thoughtfully and methodically creating the conditions under which no quarter ever needs saving again.

To my mind, this is “support” of the highest order. And while your salespeople may not be asking for this type of support, they desperately need it…and they tend to appreciate it when they get it!

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