"Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear." - George Addair
SIGN UP BELOW...I DARE YOU.
I’m a boxing fan, and there have been some major hyped fights in my life, none of them are bigger than the epic battle that takes place in corporate America every second of every hour, 2,080 hours/year. I’m not talking about a physical fight. I’m referring to the battle between sales and operations.
THE SOURCE OF THE CONFLICT:
In my experience, I’ve noticed operations people often think sales people are overpaid, lazy and even belligerent. They think sales people are replaceable and unimportant.
Sales people counter by saying “I deal with the clients, pay your mortgage and buy your food. If my job is so easy why aren’t you doing it and making more money?”
So which one is right?
There is one legitimate reason operations people don’t respect sales people. Most sales people bring back every customer request to the operations teams and expect immediate fixes. The other reason operations people don’t like sales people is the perception that the sales people are overpaid and that they (the operations people) work harder. I don’t think this reason is legitimate.
I’ll simplify it this way: Operations people are right that most sales people are unaware of operational challenges. Sales people are right that dealing with customers all day is not as easy as it looks and that they are the conduit to bringing income. Both deserve respect from each other.
I’ll make it even more simple: Without operations people sales people cannot support their sales, without sales people operations people have nothing to support and thus no job.
It is a symbiotic relationship with mistrust, miscommunication and jealousy all coming into play. As a business owner, the easiest one to fix is the communication.
RESOLVING THE CONFLICT:
This is tricky but there are techniques:
1) The ol’ switcheroo. What is the switcheroo? For one week a quarter make sales people work in the operations department, and make the operations people work the phones and set appointments.
Think a week is too much? It isn’t. Each side will quickly realize the other has a rough job, and you’ll watch their empathy levels go up.
2) Set a communication process between operations and sales. Make one person the liaison between operations and sales. Task this person with receiving feedback from sales people “from the field” as to what clients want, and what is going on. Formalize a process to filter out and engage operations staff on crucial issues right away and present non-urgent issues to the operations staff once a month.
Nothing makes operations more frustrated - and makes tensions mount - like an onslaught of customer feedback in a stream of consciousness. Nothing makes sales more frustrated than feeling that the customers’ feedback and their feedback is ignored.
Here is the crucial part. Provide feedback to the sales teams on each initiative, the priorities and the resolutions on each item so they can do their jobs managing customer expectations.
3) Have each side take and analyze the other’s personality traits in a personality test. Most conflict comes from a lack of understanding about how the other side works and functions. Having an expert/test explain the best way to interact with the other person can provide a roadmap to each side to find a common way to work together.
Empathy, communication and preventing conflicts before they become bigger issues are crucial to maintaining a healthy balance between sales and operations professionals.
So who wins in this battle of sales vs. operations? There are never winners…they either both lose or they both win. Come up with a plan that gets them to work together and fits within the framework of your organization. Make it a priority…your customers will be glad you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Beans is CEO of Texting Base, Inc., out of Orlando, Florida. Texting Base is a cloud-based ”SMS Marketing Automation Platform” which allows entities to personalize group text messages.
Prior to Texting Base, Eric was the first US employee of TechSpan which became Headstrong. Headstrong sold for $550M to GenPact.
With a group of partners in 2005, Eric started Premier Mortgage Capital, Inc., a nationwide state charted Mortgage Company that grew to over 2B/Year in originations.
Eric is the author of "Changing The World Through Texting Software" and writes the entrepreneur section of "LA Style Magazine." Eric is an inventor, investor, and longtime entrepreneur.