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The Big Mistake Many Sales Ops Initiatives Make

As the title suggests, our recent “Why Sales Ops Initiatives Fail” webinar exposes and explains a number of common factors behind initiatives that have struggled mightily or, in some cases, even failed outright. While these types of sessions may seem like a bit of a downer, we feel strongly that learning from others’ mistakes is far more instructive than simply focusing on success stories.

One of the many points-of-failure we discuss in the webinar is pretty intuitive…and somewhat confusing…at the same time:

“Expecting a long, sustained effort before demonstrating results.”

The intuitive aspect of this is that sales ops initiatives that won’t show results for a long time are at much greater risk of getting derailed somewhere along the way.

After all, a company’s situation and circumstances are always changing. And other things are always popping up to compete for a company’s limited time, attention, and resources. So naturally, initiatives that lack compelling results to justify the ongoing effort are more likely to be shelved at some point in favor of things that seem to hold more immediate promise.

Simply put, most organizations are fickle and impatient. And everyone knows it. That’s why this part of the equation is pretty intuitive.

That said, dealing with this reality is where the confusion often arises…

You see, many practitioners assume that worthwhile sales ops initiatives will just “take as long as they take.” In their minds, whether we’re talking about six months, 12 months, or even two years, the timeframe from start to finish simply “is what it is.” So to them, this potential point-of-failure seems unavoidable unless they choose to pursue smaller initiatives that may be far less valuable.

Of course, the fallacy here is the assumption that “start to finish” and “time to result” are synonymous. They are not.

Start to finish, an initiative may indeed require two years of concerted effort. But you can plan the execution of the initiative in such a way that some demonstrable results are produced within the first 90-120 days, with even more results six months in, and so on. And by producing results all along the way, you’ll stand a much better chance of maintaining momentum and internal support over the longer haul.

In reality, there are dozens of different ways to execute any initiative. Of course, there are things that have to happen in a certain sequence…prerequisites, if you will. But when designing your initiatives, you have a lot of options and choices.

You can default to a “start to finish” initiative design that will generate results only after many months of concerted effort. Or, you can put some stakes in the ground for when results will be generated along the way (the sooner the better) and design the rest of the initiative around those results-oriented milestones.

The bottom line is that this point-of-failure is not unavoidable. With some thought and creativity, you can almost always design around it. You just have to want to.

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