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A Letter to Santa: 7 Wishes of a Sales Operations Manager

Dear Santa,

I know you haven’t heard from me since I was a gangly kid who waited for your arrival 364 days a year. I used to dream about being able to fly so I could find and follow your sleigh. But that was well before corporate towers replaced snow castles. Not that I have anything against corporate towers, Santa, but it’s not often (never, in fact) that I see VPs going at it in an old-school snowball fight. They would rather throw objectives around the war room than refine their snowball-packing techniques. Not that I have anything against objectives, but let’s get back to the real reason we love winter: you. Well…you and the presents.

Nobody does it better than you, Santa. Not Secret Santa, for all his good intentions – enough said.

Remember when you fit that whole blue bicycle through the chimney for me without breaking it? Beyond comprehension. And here I am again, thinking of you with great curiosity and hope. Santa, could you hurry down the chimney for me one more time?

Before my requests, I know you can see and hear everything, and you probably already know when I haven’t been sleeping and what keeps me up at night. You’ve probably got my wishes and dreams all figured out telepathically, but just in case, I’m thinking that a little background can’t hurt. So here goes.

Like you, I’m a person others expect a lot from. Granted, it’s not like I have to deliver toys to all the kids in the world in one night. But, well…take senior executives. Every day, they tell me they don’t have nearly enough visibility into territories and the performance of their teams.

Which brings me to sales reps: they complain about wasting too much time on shadow accounting, and yet you can catch them hiding their calculators under conference tables during meetings, always trying to predict their earnings. Don’t they know their forecast is only as good as their ability to get in front of a customer and make it happen?

It drains the soul to see them overwhelmed by uncertainty. Managing their sales compensation inquiries is no picnic, either. After long thought, I’ve put together this list to help everyone in our sales organization retrieve some of that childish joy again.

Wishes for 2017:

1. P reach Automation

Old-timer, could your elves create some sort of thingamajig to help me reduce the administrative burden on sales reps and streamline processes? They need to focus more on high-value sales activities. Also, while the elves are at it, could they automate common activities to save time and reduce errors?

2. R educe Distractions and Turnover

How is it that you keep all your elves and reindeer so focused, productive, and filled with team spirit? I have so much to learn from you. Help me bring clarity and transparency to compensation, quota allocation, and territory assignment processes. Advise me on minimizing the sales disruption that results from compensation disputes and shadow accounting. Also, if you don’t mind, let me in on the secret to accelerating onboarding and quickly reaching full productivity.

3. E xecute Strategy

Santa, is there anything in your bag, maybe something in the Assembly and Disentanglement Puzzle category that will provide clear, evidence-based direction for all components of my reps’ compensation plans? And — this is a longshot, I realize — have you happened to create an offshoot of Connect 4, something like Connect 400, that aligns salespeople’s behaviors and processes to organizational goals? Along these same lines, have you by chance instituted a gifts-that-endure plan to ensure that, throughout the year, reps stick to the on-track, connected behaviors they adopt?

4. S tay Mobile

I know you probably don’t have to rely on any devices to stay abreast of each of the important goings-on each minute of each child’s life. But I’m just a Sales Operations Manager. I have no superpower, yet I long for new heights: to be able to access performance insights at any time. On any device. And I want to improve the accuracy of our forecasting, modeling, and other data-driven processes.

5. E mbrace Change

Santa, all grown-ups hate change. Even me. Show me how to adapt faster. I know I can’t bring organizational change to a halt, but if I could minimize the way it disrupts sales momentum, that’d be a boon. Is it possible to turn change into a competitive advantage for my organization? Show me the way.

6. N ormalize Data

This may seem similar to your house-visit strategy. Let me perfectly execute the sales strategy by leveraging reliable, understandable insights and data. Make me capable of understanding sales performance at individual and group levels. Show me the truth about the part each rep plays in the overall results.

7. T hink “Raise”

You’re already my hero. But if you help me accomplish all the above, you’ll achieve a new status in my life: double hero. If there’s any time to spare before you go back to the Pole, could you have a word with my boss about my raise, too?

Santa, I feel so positive about the future now that we’re back in touch. I promise next year I’ll be just as good if you help make my dreams come true!

Yours truly,

Clark Kent, Sales Operations Manager

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