Sales OPS = Very Bad Idea!


A Very Bad Idea

Did Sales Ops Destroy Sales Imagination? It Did.

There was once a time when B2B salespeople called prospects who answered their phones.

Once prospects welcomed B2B salespeople and hosted them on tours of their facilities.

Those days died. Buyers search for their own information. Venture capital is so prevalent B2B software/SaaS companies exist out of all proportion to market need.

B2B salespeople, who once made incomes leading to financial independence, became so prevalent they overwhelmed any need a prospect might have to meet.

Today an executive buyer hides a phone number, corporate email and sets up an AI-driven system to thwart hundreds of useless calls she receives daily from vendors with quarterly revenue targets.

It is widely reported 63 percent of B2B reps fail to make quota. With 40 percent turnover, sales are the most expensive line item on a tech company’s expense ledger.

Sales VPs, managing teams that continually fail to meet revenue targets, somehow universally believe doing much more of what is not working will make things better.

Sales organizations not making quota hire more reps. Sales teams that continually fail send thousands of emails each month to build robust sales funnels.

Marketo-driven SPAM machines deliver useless “white papers” formerly called brochures to buyers who hide behind Hotmail and Gmail accounts.

Failing sales organizations need to measure useless efforts so they can quantify the declining percentage of responses and offset them with larger SPAM output.

Sales Ops is born!

Sales Ops is the instrument for metrics that fail.

Sales Ops cannot measure imagination. It cannot quantify the impact of a trusted advisor in obviating a multi-month, failed sales cycle by getting to the decision maker in a single call.

Sales Ops cannot measure the result of naturally great sales moves. More dire, Sales Ops serves as the means of constraining what an ingenious sales rep will try.

The metric “you cannot manage what you cannot measure” has a reciprocal:  a sales organization will not attempt what its management is not measuring.

The sales organization will not adapt to the unique, human wrinkles in a prospect organization unless there is something that can be reported to Sales Ops.

Management is not measuring an ingenious way a sales rep found to get into a client nobody else could land; that is just the same Sales Ops entry as an email response looking for a white paper.

To Sales Ops, the event-outcome is all that counts. A lead is a lead is a lead.

A lead from a trusted advisor, who is personally connected to a prospect is no more valuable than a white paper download from a cubicle with a 25-year-old curious new employee.

Sales Ops, built to measure the compounding failure of the transaction mindset, has become a limiting constraint on finding the right, the best way to bring a product to the customer who most needs it.

The stage where the transaction mindset and its measurement tool, Sales Ops, meet is the Quarterly Business Review.

If there is a pinnacle of human mindlessness, it is the QBR. These events place each rep in a fishbowl, often with marketing, management and other sales reps where the rep must explain how each potential sale is progressing along some artificial trajectory called “the sales process.”

The most important word in QBR is “quarterly.”  Nobody is there to review business. The only issue at hand is how to get the transaction, if one even exists, into this quarter, no matter the damage to the prospect relationship.

Sales Ops measures this madness and even creates metrics to reward plastic artifices like “date created,” “date last advanced” and the all-important “close date.”

Sales reps now run their entire territory according to what will be covered in the lemon squeeze QBR. Reps create artificial events of no useful purpose other than to have something to report at the QBR.

Sales Ops, and its spawn, the QBR, are a constraint on success because they constrain innovation.

The next time you are invited to consider Sales Ops, take a step back. Consider deploying a human sales team, with human measurements that encourage innovation, thoughtfulness, and imagination.

Reprinted from Software Executive Magazine OnLine