Explain the “Why” & Establishing a ProcessSalespeople have to be persistent and resilient when it comes to hearing No. How could they do their jobs otherwise? As an operations professional, I have a lot of respect for sales. A whopping 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes,” and it takes an optimist to assume the next response will be a “yes.” Sounds exhausting, right? It also explains why operations professionals will hear from sales so often when they want something. They don’t give up because they don’t understand the effort that goes into their request, what else you’ve been doing all day, and why their request may not make sense to prioritize. “We’re goldfish. We see opportunities to make our lives easier. That doesn’t mean our idea is always a good idea. Someone on the SDR floor will want to do something, but sales doesn’t know the time and effort it takes to do many of these things. Be professional and polite, but be direct with us about what you can and cannot do. Setting up a process for taking requests, say routing them to a manager, can save operations a lot of heartache.” Even salespeople don’t like to hear no. Be polite and explain why you can’t get to something right now or why it doesn’t fit with the broader strategy. If you’re too frustrated to keep nicely telling people “not yet,” advocate for a process that encourages them to submit requests to their manager to filter out the recommendations that make zero sense and pass along those that would help the team. Keep in mind that marketers need to have access to prospect feedback and sales input on content. These information sources are vital to improving campaigns. So don’t burn a bridge with the sales team by telling them to buzz off too many times. “No company can grow quickly if sales and marketing are at each other’s necks. Marketing stares at the 15,000 accounts, and sales is staring at the same one hundred accounts. It’s only natural that we’ll have a deeper insight into what is and isn’t working at these accounts than you can mine just through analytics. It’s important to keep communication open between the two teams.” Salespeople also don’t like to be left out of purchasing decisions that impact them directly. “For a while, we had talented people selling to marketing ops teams. Marketers also like the new shiny thing just as much as salespeople. Unfortunately, these new marketing tools created a lot of problems. These tools are expensive, the marketer gets locked into a three-year contract, and the technology wasn’t used. That’s a lot of money wasted. “When sales or marketing didn’t use the tools that were purchased, careers were impacted. If you buy something in a vacuum, sales may not like it. Unless you’re purchasing something very specific to marketing (like marketing automation or event registration technology), sales should be brought in at some point.” It’s also worth remembering that no one likes to use unintuitive tools that create more work than they solve for. Even if it sounds really cool. “I was talking with a MOPs friend about using one a voice analyzing and sales coaching solution. It’s a great, creative solution, but they wanted to use it whenever competitors were flagged in a conversation to mail SWAG out to the prospect. That’s not a good use case because you need to know the context in which the competitor was mentioned. Maybe the prospect is locked in a contract with that competitor. They’re not going to buy your solution. They’re just not a good fit, and they shouldn’t get SWAG. Sometimes a simple radio dial filled out by sales is all you need for a use case like this.”
Develop RelationshipsWhile I was in sales operations, I walked over to marketing operations. I wanted to check on how a new process was firing, but when the marketing ops manager saw my face, he said, “Newman.” A la Jerry Seinfeld. Ouch. But it made me realized I only bugged him when there was a problem. And when you don’t bother to socialize with someone when things are normal, they’ll cringe every time you round a corner. Hopefully, they won’t call you Newman. “People have life events. Ask how the wedding went or how parenthood is going. Don’t just slack them and ask them for stuff. Ask them about their personal doings, and that’ll go an extremely long way.” The recent move to remote for a lot of us in operations has benefits and drawbacks. I’ve always loved working from home because I can concentrate with fewer interruptions. If I mute Slack. But I can’t get things done as quickly when collaborating as I could stop by someone’s desk and have a quick conversation. “When we worked in the office, you could literally see who was busy. You have to be cognizant that some operations tasks take a lot of brainpower, and context switching can be tough. If you’re going to bug someone over Slack, ask if it’s a good time before hammering off an in-depth change request.” Developing a rapport with salespeople has a lot of benefits. Like we mentioned earlier, salespeople often have details about specific accounts that we can’t possibly mine out of the data. Some of them are also really good at writing email copy or creative social media posts. “There’s so much opportunity to learn from each other. We’re dealing with the same communication channel (email) and accounts, so let us give some input.”
Empathy Is VitalWhen I was speaking with Dee before our podcast recording, he brought up a great point. “Some marketing operations folks complain to sales a lot. And they don’t acknowledge that sales has a stressful job, too.” I didn’t understand this until I married a salesperson. We were both stressed out near the end of almost every month because the deals didn’t come in until the final few days. It was not fun. “Don’t assume people are sharp or frustrated because of something you did. Don’t take anything personally. We’re all under a lot of pressure. “Be nice. Be kind. We’re all dealing with stuff at home. COVID has hurled challenges at many families that we might not be aware of. So be kind.”
For more on how and why to build a relationship with your sales team, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.