As an ops professional, your to-do list is never ending. And every user thinks their request is a top priority. In this edition of ShOPS Talk, we sat with Pete Kazanjy to discuss how to chop away at that to-do list and manage expectations.
First, a little bit about Pete:
As a serial founder and seasoned early stage SaaS executive, advisor, and investor, Pete is currently the co-founder of Atrium, makers of data driven sales team management software. He founded and runs Modern Sales Pros, the world’s largest sales operations and management peer-education community with tens of thousands of members.
His book, Founding Sales, is the authoritative handbook on early stage go-to-market for founders and other non-sales people. He also co-founded TalentBin, a category-defining talent search engine and recruiting CRM, which exited to Monster Worldwide in early 2014.
Needless to say, Pete understands the importance of prioritizing. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation.
Take care of foundational tasks first
There are always a million new tools to try or processes to implement, especially when you’re in the early stages. You can onboard a video prospecting tool, for instance, but you probably should work on foundational issues first, like auto naming conventions.
Ask yourself: What’s in the critical path right now? What’s the thing that’s blocking us from moving forward?
Focus on those before getting distracted by shiny objects.
Sales ops can learn a lot from product management and agile practices
Your list is never going to end, so identify what you need to do now with the resources you currently have. Break your plan down into eight-week sprints. What do you need to accomplish in that timeframe?
At the halfway point, do a check-in. Do the items on your list for the next four weeks still reflect the shifts in your business? Make adjustments where you need to.
Make your plan visible
Once you’ve got a plan in place, your stakeholders need to know about it. Ops is always in between multiple groups. You may be a revops manager who reports to a VP of sales, but you’re working on a project for the VP of customer success. It’s up to you to make sure they all know the priority list.
Get them into a system where everyone has visibility. That may be Trello, Jira, or Asana; the tool you use is up to you. The visibility is what matters.
The next step is to establish an operating rhythm where you check in on project statuses. At the end of the eight weeks, look back at what you accomplished. Get the stakeholders in a room and do some “horse trading” on what’s important, and let that determine what you’ll work on in the next eight-week sprint.
It’s impossible to deliver on every request. Without that visibility someone’s always going to feel like they’re not getting their turn. If people can see all the tickets you’re resolving, they’ll be more understanding.
Understanding alignment vs. agreement.
Dan Grossberg, Director of Revenue Operations at Clyde, joined us to chat for a bit about prioritization too. One thing he’s recently adopted is the idea of alignment vs. agreement.
Everyone’s not going to agree on what the priorities are. But once you’ve set your plan, everyone should be aligned on their commitment to do things effectively, even if you don’t agree with the approach.
Pete shared Bain’s Responsibility Assignment Matrix, which you can use as a tool to show people that they’re consulted on decisions, but they’re not the final decision-maker. And once a decision has been made, it’s documented. Use that paper trail to remind stakeholders that, even though there may have been disagreement, you committed to a certain plan of action.
The technology you use is less important than the processes you have in place
When we asked Pete and Dan which technology they recommend for managing sales ops, Dan pointed out that the technology is less important than the processes you use. Right now his team uses Notion, but he’s also used Asana, Jira, and even built out the cases and custom objects in Salesforce.
Pete added that the calendar is an underappreciated tool. You can have any technology you want, but it’s important to actually have a regular cadence where you check in. Setting that schedule can be as simple as putting it on your calendar.
Pete’s advice for early ops pros
For ops pros who are just starting out, Pete recommends they join groups like WizOps and Modern Sales to learn from their peers. Most problems have already been solved. If you can get that information from somebody else, that will accelerate your learning curve.
Tips for growing your ops team
If your team is currently small, like Pete’s, you’ll need more of a generalist (take a look at his Sales Ops Maturity Model to map out your team’s progress). But also consider which skill sets are complementary to what you already have. You may have staff throughout the revenue organization who have some ops skills.
Focus on what you’re trying to solve for. on’t let scope creep kick in, and don’t try to do too many projects at once. Those same principles can be applied to hiring for your ops team, too.
Thank you to Pete and Dan for joining us on this edition of ShOPS Talk. Watch the full episode here.