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CenterEdge Software Blog

7 Tips to Improve Work Between Sales and Operations

Posted by Sherry Howell on May 27, 2022 11:54:47 AM

It's time to make it clear that everyone is in sales - and operations - on a thriving team.

Food fights

How many times have you heard about "those crazy salespeople" or "those grumpy operations folks?" If you're a business owner, you've probably heard these cross-departmental complaints more often than you care to. 

Operations teams can sometimes feel like sales "overpromises," making it extremely difficult for banquet or events staff to deliver what was sold.

In turn, sales teams often complain that their operations teammates don't "go the extra mile" or misstep on what was expected. 

These friction points are common to nearly every business in every industry, so today, we're expanding on the tips we discussed in the most popular CenterEdge article to date. 

 

No. 1: Provide clarity.

Many issues can be solved when teams are clear about what is expected of them. Without clarity, people will work on the wrong tasks, procrastinate because they're confused and frustrated, worry that they're on the wrong track, and sometimes all three at once! These outcomes seriously dampen productivity and morale. 

Providing clarity doesn't mean micromanaging or stifling autonomy or creativity, rather it's a way to provide a framework to complete the project or the task at hand, with appropriate boundaries to work within.

For example, sales team needs to understand what kind of out-of-the-ordinary extras they can add to an event, when they need to confer with an operations manager on a request, what discounts are available for them to apply, and so on.

Operations teams need clear processes, sufficient time and space to review orders, and a consistent way to know what's been sold and how it will need to be delivered, especially when it's outside the norm.

For more on providing clarity, check out these additional resources:

No. 2: Define a common goal.

It seems simple, but sometimes team members need to see where they fit inside your organization and in relation to other teams. Ask team members to consider the overarching company goal and how their job directly impacts that objective.

let's say the company goal is to help bring families together. Each team member will play a specific part in making that happen. For example, the maintenance crew keeps the attractions safe and in working order so that guests have the best time possible. Making specific connections for each department can make a huge difference in how people view themselves, other departments, and the company as a whole.

No. 3: Encourage teams to ask for help.

Capable teams know when they need help, and they’re smart enough to ask for it. While it’s well-known that team members outgrow positions or companies once their skills develop to a certain level, few organizations (and people) are willing to admit that the opposite is also true. Some positions and companies can actually outgrow the people in them, and a little humility goes a long way.

A team member (or leader!) should know when to ask for help – and have the courage to admit to not knowing everything. This help may include taking a course, getting some outside training, or employing an organizational coach. It’s impossible for any organization to break through the next growth or revenue milestone if team members aren’t empowered to seek out professional growth.

As a leader, it's critical that you foster a culture wherein leaders and managers are approachable when questions are asked, without becoming short, disrespectful, or combative. Encourage more questions by asking them yourself in coaching sessions and meetings. Create an environment where curiosity is celebrated and you'll be rewarded with team members who use more creativity when solving problems and tackling projects, in addition to working better together.   

No. 4: Provide space for candid feedback. 

Communication is a critical component of a strong culture, and it's a good idea to hold regular meetings between Sales and Operations to share successes, unique upcoming group needs, and process improvements. Encourage team members to put emotions aside and get to the heart of issues so that they can be identified, discussed, and solved. But be prepared to take action. Talking about the same problem over and over without making a plan for a realistic resolution won’t solve anything.

Use empathy to help understand where both sides are coming from. Make sure that, end the end of the day, everyone is committed to the fact that they're working towards the same goal: delighting our guests and delivering an outstanding experience for families and our community.

If you're not ready to air grievances openly, anonymous resolutions via surveys or even a simple suggestion box can help uncover issues. Compile a list of common issues and begin by addressing them one by one, as necessary.

No. 5: Celebrate everyone's unique contributions to team success.

Many salespeople are driven by crushing numbers and celebrating sales successes, so a sales leader may think that sharing sales numbers with everyone in the organization is the key to motivation. But sometimes being too transparent can actually be demotivating to Operations, who may feel like sales leaders are never satisfied. It’s important to remember that different people have different motivations.

While it is helpful to deliver a “State of the Union” in regards to sales figures, it’s equally important to celebrate successes both on and off the spreadsheet. The sales team often receives most of the spotlight, but without a successful Operations department, there wouldn’t be anything to sell. Effective status updates should include a mixture of sales and delivery celebrations, goal setting, and improvement discussions. Sharing weekly departmental highlights, such as positive guest feedback, a 100 percent departmental attendance rate and a sales goal exceeded are all excellent achievements to recognize.

No. 6: Respect everyone's time.

The most successful teams know to use their time together wisely. Have you ever sat through an interdepartmental meeting and thought, “Well, that was a complete waste of my time. I only needed to be there for the first five minutes”? It’s happened to everyone.

While your weekly events meetings need to have good interdepartmental communication, make sure that topics discussed with the group at large are relevant for everyone and save more isolated issues for smaller meetings. More meetings do not equate to more communication, and it can often have the opposite effect. Be deliberate and clear about expectations for each interdepartmental meeting and be sure to reassess the validity of each on an ongoing basis.

No. 7: Drive a "spirit of goodwill."

When you notice a team member beginning with accusatory statements such as, “Sales always …” or “Operations never …” remind them again that you’re all working toward the same common goal. Remind everyone that coworkers in other departments are equally committed to success, and so it should be assumed that decisions were made with the best of intentions.

Then take time to learn more about the action in question and determine if an error was made and what can be learned from the situation for the future. Keeping an open mind helps you to see all sides of the story, and you can often find a new way to solve problems you hadn’t considered before.

Remembering that coworkers are operating in different job functions and with different motivations, but that they are all equally invested in the success of the company, can help teams get along better and find common ground. And it's mission critical for your success. 

How do you manage the conflict between departments? Is your culture up to the challenge?  Share your best practices in the comments or connect with us on Twitter.

Topics: Sales, Employee Management, Facility Operations