That definition seems cosmic, inter-galactic and all-encompassing, doesn’t it?
However, in complex selling environments, this definition may be too narrow. As a result, current sales operations strategy may not be robust enough to deliver against business objectives.
First of all, let’s get a working definition of sales operations by seeing where it fits in to the overall sales performance environment.
There are five elements which, in addition to the structure, composition, and management of the sales force itself (element #6), impact the performance of a sales organization.
- Sales Enablement includes (but isn’t limited to) sales process development, training and communication;
- Sales Operations, focused on leadership and team composition and functionality, talent acquisition and change management (yes, folks, change management) activities critical not only to sales operations execution, but also sales force execution of sales strategy;
- Business and Sales Analytics, including sales forecasting and metrics;
- Sales Administration, comprising (but not limited to) proposal and contract management, selection of vendors to support the sales process, and process planning for post-sale implementation activities; and
- Sales Alignment aligns/coordinates strategic and tactical marketing, content and lead gen activities, including marketing research and Voice of the Customer initiatives.
That’s a lot of people and resources! As a result, when sales teams sit around the business table with sales operations folks, that table gets really crowded.
But here’s the thing. Some key people are missing from this sales operations model.
A few more people must sit around that business table these days. The pace and cadence of complex sales within the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem requires nothing (and no one) less.
Otherwise you short-sell yourself, your products and services, and your organization.
Do I have your attention?
An expanded sales operations strategy is required when selling into industrial Internet of Things environments.
When you sell to industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) decision makers, you sell to smart people working in smart manufacturing, business and retail environments. This ecosystem represents a dynamic mix of people, sensor data, software interfaces, predictive analytics and amazing equipment which communicates with other amazing equipment.
The common denominator within IIoT environments is interoperability. Interoperability describes the ability of computer systems, equipment or even teams of people to collaborate, operate and communicate with each other in the execution of strategy.
But wait. There’s more.
Not only is everything connected to and communicating with everything else. Also, everyone communicates with everyone else. Why? Because they collaborate across the professional languages being spoken.
To expand your sales operations strategy to meet complex selling challenges, start by asking yourself these three questions:
- Am I comfortable, conversant and consistent when communicating with all of my peers in the sales operations function?
- Do I have a sales operations strategy that easily connects me to everyone else (outside of sales operations) in my organization responsible for creating robust, enduring, scalable, interoperable and profitable solutions?
- Will I continue to be intimidated when working with technical, engineering, IT and finance folks in my organization, even though I realize they are the (often missing) keys to successfully executing sales operations strategy?
Have I piqued your interest?
Learn more about why your sales operations strategy may be too narrow.
I have a treat for you. I joined several of my sales colleagues in a Sales Experts Sales Summit on Wednesday, March 8 at 11 AM Eastern on the Sales Experts Channel on BrightTALK. We discussed how to build a successful sales organization. I expanded the conversation I started with you today on how to make your sales operations strategy more robust for complex selling environments.
You can sign up to listen, participate and gain post-sales summit access to the webcast by clicking on this link.
Wait. There’s more! Download my complementary Complex Sales Performance and Sales Operations Checkup to assess the current health of your own sales organization.
I hope you enjoy listening as we drill down on the sales operations strategy and issues that every sales force needs to be thinking about.
See you there!
Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. She connects the dots between leadership, human capital / HR strategy and developing a data-driven, team-based workforce committed to creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
Image author: Welf Aaron. Image source: Fotolia.