How Sales Operations Drives Success – Part 2: Is Your Team Strategic or Tactical?

by Stacey Marsh

You may look at this question and immediately think, “It’s an operations team. They jump in to help resolve sales challenges. They’re tactical, right?”

From a Sales perspective, Sales Operations may appear tactical. But Sales typically only sees the “quick fixes” without observing that the Sales Operations team is also working behind the scenes on long-term goals.

Let’s examine the traits of tactical vs strategic Sales Operations team.

A tactical team is goal oriented. Their agenda is short term and focuses on a current need. They are doers. They ask how things get done. They embrace stability. They ask themselves, “Are we doing things right?”  They look at the immediate. Their goal is to be efficient and complete tasks. A tactical team has an internal focus, chooses low risk, and thinks about where to focus today. They look at the trees.

A strategic team is vision oriented. Their agenda is long term and focuses on the future. They plan. They ask why things are done the way they are. They embrace change. They ask themselves, “Are we doing the right things?” They look at the big picture.  Their goal is to be effective and purposeful. A strategic team is willing to look externally, take high risk, and thinks on a larger scale. They look at the forest. One could argue that both teams have great qualities, and neither can be successful on their own.

But what if Sales Operations is not one or the other. What if there is a third team?

A Hybrid Team is path oriented. Their agenda is to be agile and adapt. They focus on the improvements that stand the test of time and are vision agnostic. They want to do the right things, at the right time, in the right way, and for the right reasons. They want to be effective and efficient but create value as well. This team will take the risk while having a risk mitigation plan. They want to look cross-functionally and leverage the broader ecosystem. They anticipate the “what.” They plan for scalability. They facilitate productive change. They are a team with a mission of continuous improvement. They look beyond the trees and beyond the forest.

Guess what type of team I just described?  It’s an Operations Team. Their objective is to connect the strategic goals to a tactical approach.  Truth is, one cannot survive without the other.

Take a close look at the following traits and do an honest assessment of where your sales operations team falls.

Strategic Tactical Hybrid
Plan Do Direct & Facilitate
Larger Scale Smaller Scale Scalable
Why How What
Long Term Short Term Sliding Term
Focus on Future Focus on Immediate Need Connecting Today and the Future
Vision Oriented Goal/Objective Oriented Path Oriented
Looks Externally Looks Internally Looks 360
Environment Organization Ecosystem
Change Stability Transitional – Nimble
Doing the Right Things Doing Things Right Doing the Right Things at the Right Time in the Right Way
Could be Considered Proactive Could be Considered Reactive Progressive
Purpose Task Mission
Competitive Preventative Anticipative
High Risk Low Risk Risk Mitigation
Effective Efficient Value

If the team is heavily strategic, look to add resources that thrive on execution and optimization. Talented tactical resources can quickly assess a challenge, dismantle it, redefine it, and build a solution that is optimal for sales.  If the team leans more toward tactical, then you can leverage vision-oriented resources that harness the execution to larger objectives. The strategist and the tactician can create building blocks that support a sales organization to achieve its vision. In both cases broaden your extended team. The more you listen and the more you incorporate ideas and resources from other organizations, the stronger the Sales Operations team becomes.

Part 3 of this series will consider an essential question: “How can Sales Operations get internal stakeholders on their team?” Be the first to read part 3: subscribe now to have our blogs delivered right to your inbox.