This Is the Biggest Mistake Operations Teams Make

There are so many articles explaining what sales operations teams need to do in order to have better cooperation from salespeople. With titles like, “Three Tips to Get Sellers to Listen” or  “An Open Letter to Salespeople from Sales Ops,” it’s evident that the root issue is being overlooked.

The biggest and easiest mistake a sales operations team makes during periods of hypergrowth is forgetting who their client is.

For sales operations, the first (and most important) customer is the internal sales team. And those articles I just mentioned? Well, I think what they really hint at is that the customer relationship between operations and sales is broken.

But as someone who’s spent their career in operations, I can assure you it’s not a lost cause. Here are four ways your ops team can avoid making this mistake.

1. Set Proper Expectations

Be sure the sales team knows they are the number one priority. By letting them know that they are the most important customer, and telling them this repeatedly, it will help build a strong foundation for the relationship between ops and sales. And by expressing they are the ops teams’ most important customer, this will hold your team to deliver on those expectations.

2. Treat Them Like a Customer

Many articles you’ll read suggest that if reps want to interact with ops teams, they need to jump through a list of hoops first. This model suggests that salespeople are not the top priority of an operations team. Making the process of receiving support for your internal customer difficult will create tension and sellers will be less likely to interact with sales ops teams. When you notice points of friction, that’s an opportunity to make things better.

3. Trust First

If a salesperson brings an issue forward, don’t immediately assume the issue is their fault. It’s so easy to assume that the salesperson isn’t doing something correctly, especially when you built what they are using. Take a moment to empathize with your customer and figure out what the pain point is hindering inside of their day. Understand that if they are bringing the issue to attention, then it’s preventing them from doing their job. And I think we all know how it feels to be stuck or unable to perform at the level we want to.

4. Do What They Do 

In order to help salespeople do their job better, sales ops need to understand what it means to be a salesperson for your company. Now, this doesn’t mean sales ops need to sit down and make sales calls. But ops need to understand the steps of a customer journey, what it takes to go through a demo, what it takes to create an opportunity, or what does it take to insert all of the customer information that the company requires. By understanding the processes sales reps go through, you can better understand how they are using the systems you’ve set in place – you’ll be able to respond with empathy when a rep has an issue.

Final Thought

The biggest mistake sales operations can make is to forget that their main customer is their internal sales people.

But by setting proper expectations, treating them like a customer, trusting your sales team, and understanding the processes reps have to go through, an ops team can better serve their internal customers and help ease that transition of hypergrowth.


If you challenge yourself (and your team) to accomplish at least one of these four items every day, you’ll be headed in the right direction.

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