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Smoothing the Stops & Starts In Sales Ops

If you’ve ever experienced the joys of teaching a teenager how to drive, you are almost certainly familiar with jack-rabbit starts and sudden, seatbelt-tightening stops.

Many the things that just come naturally to those of use who are “seasoned” drivers are not at all natural for those just starting out. For example, they often try to get from one stoplight to the next as quickly as possible (hopefully, within the bounds of the speed limit). When the light turns green, they press down hard on the accelerator, and they don’t let up — even if a stoplight up ahead is clearly about to turn red.

Those of us who have been driving (and paying for our own gas, brakes, and tires) for a while know to look ahead on the road. If the light is turning yellow, you’ll take your foot off the gas and coast for a bit. If you’re lucky, maybe the light will even turn green by the time you get there, allowing you to gently accelerate back up to the speed limit.

In a way that’s a little similar to a teenage driver, economic uncertainty can also lead to a lot of “stopping and starting” within companies.

One minute, management is really excited about a new initiative. The next, they’re apprehensive about moving too far from the status quo. One minute they’re approving your new hires and purchase orders for new technology. The next, they’re warning about the possibility of layoffs and asking you to cut costs.

And your customers are probably experiencing the same whiplash.

They might seem ready to close a big deal. Then suddenly they get cold feet for no apparent reason. Two weeks later, they’re back asking for a new quote for a totally different product.

These challenges can certainly be frustrating.

It might seem like the only thing you can do is go along for the ride, experiencing the sudden stops and starts as they come. That’s certainly the natural reaction and very common in a lot of industries.

We’d like to suggest that you can — and should — anticipate some market moves. If the market is up, you should expect that it will go down at some point. And if it’s down now, well, eventually it will go back up. And if you have enough data, you can probably even make some intelligent predictions about when and how quickly the market will change.

The tools that Sales Ops teams currently have at their disposal can make this kind of forecasting a little bit easier. Our webinar on The Fundamentals of Sales Intelligence can help you identify the signs and signals that portend coming changes. And it can help your sales team (and your entire company by extension) better plan for the future.

Selling Through Uncertainty offers a framework for navigating the ambiguity that seems to be particularly prevalent in our current economy. It can help you assess different possibilities and create some data-driven contingency plans.

Last, but certainly not least, How to Deal with Inflation offers some advice on dealing with one of the biggest challenges teams are facing right now. It can help you avoid over-correction and explores the three fundamental Sales Ops processes that can significantly reduce your downside risks..

If a young driver gets good advice (and is willing to take it), they can learn to avoid making so many sudden stops and starts. The same is true for Sales Ops. But in both cases, it will take a little practice.

And on that note, some of us here at SellingBrew are currently spending a lot of time teaching our own kids how to become competent drivers. So if you see us on the road, maybe be prepared for some sudden stops and starts while we’re still working on perfecting their technique.

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