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What Sales Ops Should Do (Before Someone Else Does)

When it comes to conversations with management, Sales Ops teams often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they want to convince leadership that there are things that can be done to improve and that the company really needs to prioritize it.

On the other hand, Sales Ops sometimes finds that they do such a good job talking about the need to improve that management gets spooked. And rather than turn to the experts they have already hired to handle these issues, management decides to bring in a third-party group to benchmark the function and tell sales ops how to do its job better. It turns into a real-life example of the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

So what can Sales Ops do to avoid being blindsided in this way?

We usually recommend getting ahead of the issue by doing your own benchmark study and issuing the company a report card on its Sales Ops capabilities.

We know, we know. The report card idea sounds gimmicky. But believe it or not, the world’s largest consulting companies — experts who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to tell executives how to run their businesses better — use this technique to get their ideas across.

The idea is pretty simple. You objectively ask questions that gauge the competitiveness and efficacy of the whole sales operation…not just “Sales Ops”, but the complete sales organization. Questions like:

  • Does your team regularly turn away prospects that don’t align to the targeting priorities, or is sales likely to pursue most prospects?
  • Are salespeople expected to adhere to defined pricing structures and discounting policies, rather than having broad pricing discretion?
  • Are sales territories established and assigned based on the opportunities that exist, or are they defined around geographic boundaries?
  • Do you employ any sort of structured skills tests or formal capability assessments as part of recruiting and hiring new salespeople?
  • Have your sales and marketing functions reached agreement as to what constitutes a sales qualified lead or viable opportunity?

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “That’s all well and good, but how do I come up with the questions that measure industry best practices and how my company compares?”

And, of course, we have an answer.

The SellingBrew research team has a couple of resources to help you. The first is the “Assessing Your Sales Operation” webinar. It offers an overview of the areas you need to consider and the attitude you need to have when conducting your assessment.

After that, check out the “The Sales Capability Self-Assessment“. It’s a pre-made checklist that details best practices across the sales organization, and it’s perfect for evaluating how your current abilities, processes, and practices compare to the best in the business.

We can’t guarantee that this approach will suddenly turn your bosses into wise and reasonable people who always make the best decisions. But this technique is one of the best we’ve seen for convincing management that they need to make some changes and that the Sales Ops team is just the group to do it.

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