Build Trust with Your Sales Team

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the value of trust between sales operations and sales teams.
  • Establish and maintain trust when process errors occur.

Why Trust Matters

Trust is vital. It ensures that the changes sales operations makes are accepted by sales. If sales does not accept a system improvement or new process, then all the effort to make the change is a waste!

How sales operations communicates these changes to the sales team directly impacts the level of trust between them. To communicate effectively, sales ops must understand how tools and processes impact the sales team on a daily basis, and make any adjustments with a lack of disruption in mind. 

In the end, sales should be viewed as the most important sales ops stakeholder. 

Sales operations team meeting with sales reps in a conference room.

How to Earn Trust in the Face of Digital Transformation

In many organizations, sales is not given a clear explanation or a say in infrastructure changes that impact them. This often leads to poor adoption. 

Since they are accustomed to the status quo, it’s common for sales teams to be alarmed by a change. To prevent potential push-back, invite sales leadership to be part of the evaluation  process from the outset. Consider the following questions. 

  • How will this tool impact the sales team process?
  • How does it increase or limit their access to data?
  • Are we adding extra steps or administrative burden?

Let’s go through this exercise when considering data enrichment as mentioned in the previous unit.

  • How will this tool impact the sales team process?
    • Data enrichment will add Industry and Annual Revenue to the account record when it’s first created.
  • How does it increase or limit their access to data?
    • This increases the access to data both for the sales team and leadership.
  • Are we adding extra steps or administrative burden?
    • This data is added automatically, so we’re not creating any new steps to the sales process and there is no administrative burden for the sales team.

The answers to these questions are critical, but the last is especially important. Recalling the best practices we reviewed in the previous unit—we’re avoiding additional data entry, we’re controlling the steps while providing more data that the sales organization will use to make better decisions. We have more chance for buy-in with this system.

Once you’ve answered these questions to the group’s satisfaction and moved to the demo phase, include a handful of your most tech-savvy salespeople in the product review. Invite them to explore the user interface, interact with the product, and address any concerns or problems they foresee. These proactive steps to bring sales into the process early can go a long way toward increasing user adoption and improving morale once the system is implemented.

What to Do When Something Goes Wrong

Sales ops is expected to manage large systems with a lot of sensitive data flowing between them. As the business scales, there is a greater risk for something to go awry. That’s just the nature of growth.

We’re talking about a series of misrouted lead or incorrect commission payments. These kinds of errors can create frustration within the sales team, to say the least. And personally, this can come with a mixture of guilt, damaged ego, questions about your abilities, and more. The first thing to do is not worry. 

Change and scale can be hard. The best sales operations professionals have come across a stumble, or several, in their careers. This is where you learn and grow. Take this situation as an opportunity for the company as a whole to learn and grow as well.

Maintaining trust in the system and your ability to support the sales team requires transparency. When a mistake occurs, own the problem. 

  • Explain how or why the issue happened.
  • Identify who it impacted and how, expressing empathy and developing solutions.
  • Outline how sales operations is going to fix it so that it won’t happen again.

These may seem like simple steps, but they can be difficult taking into account what we’ve mentioned above. It’s especially difficult if you’ve been flying high as a sales ops specialist and this is your first time coming across a systems failure. 

It may not even be your fault. But owning the problem lets your sales team know that you have their back through the hard times. 

Put It All Together

As companies look to improve their sales tech stack, sales operations plays an increasingly critical role in advising for and against changes. Sales operations work is also important when identifying and communicating how those tools impact the sales team. How sales ops introduces and implements new technology sets the foundation for a productive and high-functioning sales force. 

Sales ops earns the sales team’s trust by adhering to three values. 

  • Open communication about technology changes
  • Collaboration in buying decisions
  • Transparency when mistakes occur