This post is by Taft Love, VP of RevOps and Inside Sales at HouseCanary. It is meant to be a somewhat-tongue-in-cheek look at the relationship between RevOps, sales management, and sales reps. Disagree with some (or all) of the points made here? Join the debate and leave a comment!
A debate has existed in the sales community for years: Whose job is it to police the sales team — sales management or RevOps (Revenue Operations)? I won’t bury the lead here. The answer is sales management.
Some people will disagree with me, but...
When it comes to enforcing sales policy, the RevOps team has two jobs:
Build an infrastructure that makes it easy for sales reps to do their job without circumventing policy.
Put in place mechanisms that make it easy for sales management to enforce policies.
The reason why many sales leaders don’t see policing the sales reps as their job is because someone else has always taken care of it. Teams for which this is true are often stuck in a negative cycle. It goes something like this:
Messy operational infrastructure and poor documentation make it difficult for sales reps to understand or follow the rules.
Sales reps constantly break the rules — usually out of necessity or ignorance.
Sales managers don’t have visibility into the issues, so the RevOps team finds it easier to cut out the middle-man and go straight to the reps.
This becomes a full-time job, so the infrastructure never gets built.
The only people with the knowledge necessary to police the sales team work in operations.
For inexperienced RevOps teams, this can even be a good thing because it creates a moat. You can’t fire the only person who knows how to clean up the pipeline. Many sales teams don’t know what a strong RevOps team looks like, so all they see is someone working hard to keep everything together. They see a rockstar.
What these teams don’t realize is that every minute that the RevOps team spends policing sales reps is a minute not dedicated to building a better infrastructure. This is not a scalable setup.
Fortunately, all is not lost. I’ll share three simple tips that can help your RevOps team turn in their gun and badge.
Validation rules are every RevOps team’s secret weapon. If you’ve ever tried to save a record in Salesforce, only to get a red error message telling you to fill in a field, then you have experience dealing with validation rules.
If sales reps are failing to input or change data when expected, you should use validation rules to stop reps from saving records that are out of compliance. For example, if sales reps keep forgetting to add a Primary Contact on an opportunity, write a validation rule requiring that all opportunities have a value in Primary Contact before saving.
Pro Tip: Validation rules are super flexible, so try to make them specific. For each opportunity stage, I write a validation rule that forces reps to complete certain tasks before moving to the next stage.
If you’re like most of my clients, there are probably a ton of email alerts set up in your Salesforce instance. Most of them are probably celebratory, e.g. announcing big wins or stage advancement. I also wouldn’t be surprised if nobody at the company remembers why some of them were created. What you’re unlikely to find is email alerts that help call out bad behavior.
There are some behaviors that don’t lend themselves to validation rules. For example, letting stale opportunities sit around without ever being closed. The reason validation rules aren’t helpful here is because stale opportunities aren’t being updated, so a mechanism that stops them from saving updates is worthless.
For these behaviors, I suggest building email alerts. One of the most common examples is open opportunities with close dates in the past. I build workflows that send an email alert to the rep one day after the close date. Three days after the close date the rep and their manager get an alert. Three days later the rep, their manager, and the head of sales get an email.
My favorite way to handle policy violations is by making them visible to the team. This is easy with a dashboard that shows policy violations and calls out the violators. I’ve heard these called exceptions dashboards or “clean your room” dashboards.
Some components I like to add to this dashboard are:
Open ops with close dates in the past
Opportunities missing value
Opportunities older than x days in stage
Leads in new status older than x days
Implementing these three simple tips should allow your RevOps team to hand the job of policing sales reps back to the sales management team. This will provide your RevOps people some much needed bandwidth to do their real job: preparing your company for growth.
Taft Love is the Head of Operations at Iceberg RevOps, which provides revenue ops and Salesforce consulting for modern teams.