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Keeping it together – Sales vs Operations
Since the dawn of man, woman and business… There have been sales people. These charismatic individuals could be identified in many a backyard or marketplace, negotiating with their neighbours in the pursuit of selling a chicken in return for cow (clearly an excellent deal).
The masters of this craft went on to sell services and solutions, leveraging her peers to provide the solution whilst she went out to win the deals, making any promises necessary in order to appease her clients and paying whatever was needed to have her staff comply.
These people had a nose for opportunity, like a bloodhound tracking an escaped prisoner. They were ruthless, never quitting until they have tracked down their target and gained their rewards.
As her empire exploded her ability to deliver weakened. In a bid to save her business she threw every cent (or cow) at her staff to perform; to no avail…. She had over promised and dismissed the suggestions of her peers at the detriment of her own business.
Emerging around the same time were the operators. These practical beings, initially unknown, were a quiet people, sitting in the background, fighting fires and ensuring square pegs fit into round holes by any creative means necessary. They were imperative in keeping the sales persons promises.
The operators were a resentful group, often overlooked and underappreciated. They grew tired of being the invisible backbone and chose to rise up and demand to be valued equally with their sales peers.
Thus began a long war between sales and operations, a war still in existence today, although pitchforks have been swapped for the submission of electronic complaints and corporate political power moves.
Many of us in the modern world would be familiar with this dynamic.
Sales say “Why can’t you deliver what we’re selling?” and Operations responds “Why are you selling what we can’t deliver?”
It is a tug of war and both sides are right!
This duo are like yin and yang. They are opposite in their individual qualities and nature, yet they are interdependent; they cannot exist without one another.
Without sales, operations would have no work and without operations, sales would have nothing to sell. Consider it this way, sales look after the customer and operations look after the company, both necessary and in the end both in service of the customer; without the company there is nothing to offer the customer.
Working in harmony
In order to find harmony you have to first come to a place of appreciation for your other half; this comes from understanding one another… Which can be reached by…. You guessed it; communication.
Ask, don’t demand:
Don’t forget your manners just because you feel your colleague does not understand your work. Ask them if they may please fulfil your need, suggest timelines but ask them if that is OK, say thank you!
Negotiate with one another:
Sales people, this is your thing. Sit down with your operations team, qualify what is possible and negotiate fairly to get an outcome everyone agrees is possible.
Remember always that you are not possible without one another. Thank one another for your hard work. Celebrate the others wins, accomplishments and excellent delivery. Share client feedback with one another – remember it is a group effort. When your colleague does something that makes your job easier, tell them!
Teach others how to treat you:
At the end of the day you show others how to treat you. Be transparent. Operations, if you have a list of things you need answered in order to fulfil a requirement more effectively, share this. Sales, if you have a common hurdle with delivering some of that information, share this and find another solution.
At the end of the day there is only the customer.
About the author
Director and Founder Upside.Digital
Lee embarked on a journey in 2009 to move from IT to marketing and did so with a bang. She found her passion immediately within the performance based email marketing arena and has been working with clients since helping them drive up their online presence and ROI ever since.
With expert direction and leadership across digital strategy and online marketing Lee is a natural sales director fostering client relationships that have been with the company since its inception in 2009.
Quote: Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try