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Sales vs Operations

One of the oldest battles in the history of corporate world exists between Sales and Operations. While one is about selling a service, the other is about delivering it to the customer.

Sales is an art, operations is the science. And hence the constant battle between the two.

Sales vs Operations stand offs occur mainly due to lack of knowledge, communication or incentive.

Lack of Knowledge

The Problem

Conflicts arise when we aren’t fully aware of what the other person does. It is not about who’s job is more difficult, it is about how can we serve the customer right.

I have seen the two departments at logger heads in absence of proper SOPs for the Operations teams and/or proper training for Sales people (Salestors). Lack of set processes affects the productivity of the Operations guys besides wasting time and efforts. Similarly, when Sales people have little or no knowledge of Operations processes, the company risks jeopardising its relationship with the clientele, or even losing them. Salestors need to tell the client how the product/service will be delivered. That is a key topic during customer engagement.

The Solutions

SOPs and Training: Self-explanatory. Ideally, proper SOPs and training are key to ensuring smooth functioning between these two key players in customer management.

Cross training: A lot of companies put both Salestors and Operations guys in each other’s shoes by cross training them. Salestors are trained in Operations processes before hitting the field and Operations staff are given a taste of Sales. It not only helps ease out the conflicts, but also upskills the staff.

Lack of Communication

The Problem

A lot of times, we Sales people, or Salestors, need to exaggerate the terms of service, or features of the product in order to make it shine brighter than the competitors. Problem occurs when we fail to walk-the-talk because our Operations guys cannot deliver what we promised as it is outside the SOP. It not only hampers our fresh relationship with the client, but also tarnishes the image of the company.

The Solutions

Inter-departmental Meetings: The most effective solutions at times are the simplest ones. The traditional way to communicate, sitting across the table can prove worthy if navigated properly.

Combined meetings with the customer: That is, when you want to be transparent about the service (an ideal scenario). Meeting the client together with Operations to discuss service delivery usually makes the closure easier and faster. It also gains brownie points with the customer for transparency, always.

Consult the Operations before promising the moon to the customer: It saves time and efforts and prevents the dire circumstances when the customer realises you cannot deliver on your promises. Basically, it makes lives easier for everyone, the Sales person, the customer and the Operations team who will have to deliver.

Lack of Incentive

The Problem

Sales people are eligible for incentives on getting clients on-board and hence the motivation to leave no stone unturned is very high. Source of motivation for the Operations can come from these activities.

The Solutions

Clear Goals or KPIs: Customer-centricity trickles down from the top management and can give the desired focus to the employees. Every cog in the wheel needs to move in the direction of good customer service.

Rewards & Recognition: Recognising the efforts made, if not rewarding, amplifies the motivation. It needs to be done for the non-Sales guys who go out of the way to get things done keeping customer service in mind.

Mutual Goals and Rewards: Creating KPIs and corresponding R&R that makes people work together smoothly can prove to be a boon.

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