In the best marriages, the two spouses have strengths that complement each other’s weaknesses. Maybe one person enjoys cooking, and the other enjoys doing dishes. Maybe one is good at scheduling time to be with friends, and one is good about scheduling dates alone. Maybe one is logical and remembers to pay the bills while the other is more emotional and remembers birthdays and anniversaries.
The exact details don’t matter. The point is that the two people aren’t alike, but they make a good team.
Ideally, the relationship between a sales manager and sales ops should be a little like one of those good marriages. No, we’re not suggesting that you should kiss your sales managers good-bye or tell them that you love them when you leave the office. We’re suggesting that you and the sales manager have different strengths and that the organization will be most successful when you find ways to balance each other out.
Statistically, nearly all sales managers become sales managers because they were really good salespeople. Usually, that means that they are good at talking and building relationships.
On the other hand, it also usually (but not always) means that they have some gaps, or areas where they’re not quite as skilled. These are two of the most common:
- Understanding analytics and data. Most sales managers are not numbers people. Sure, they’ll look at a report because they know it’s part of their job, but they don’t find the figures all that fascinating. Their personality style is to jump to an intuitive conclusion and then look for data to back it up. And as a general rule, they’re not all that familiar with the more advanced features of their spreadsheet software.
- Viewing sales as an interconnected system. Typical sales managers are so focused on the individual people on their teams that they have trouble seeing the bigger picture. They remember how irritating it was to hear their sales manager blather on about the sales process, so they’d rather just stay out of the way and let the salespeople sell.
Ironically, these sales manager weaknesses are the very areas where most sales ops practitioners shine. If the two of you can find a way to work together, you’ll complement each other perfectly.
But, of course, marriage is never easy.
Often sales ops people and sales managers are so different that they find it difficult to get along. However, we’ve heard from many sales ops folks who tell us they were surprised to discover that their sales management counterparts actually knew that they had weaknesses, and they appreciated the ways that sales ops could serve as a counterbalance to their tendencies.
The real trick here is in addressing the issues in the right way. The Sales Ops Guide to Enabling Sales Managers explains how to go about establishing a very effective working relationship with a sales manager. And it offers proven techniques for helping managers overcome their weaknesses and make better decisions.
When you’re working with a sales manager instead of at cross purposes, you’ll be in an enviable position within the company. Having a sales manager as an ally can be a great boon in getting sales ops out of its tactical role and into a more strategic one.
Ultimately, having a good “marriage” with the sales manager will be great for the company — and for your career.