Operations and Sales: how VI Company tackles the eternal 'epic battle!'

Author
Marloes van Uffelen
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Who hasn't heard of the tension between operations and sales? The problem with this epic work-floor battle is that there's a losing party - almost by definition.

For example, a sales employee can be over the moon about selling a project, but if operations can't live up to the promise, you'll have a dissatisfied customer. What both departments should do is join forces and maximize each other's strengths. And that's exactly what VI Company has been working towards. Allow us to share our experience!

The chicken-and-egg problem: which comes first?

As we illustrated above, sales wins new customers and operations is responsible for delivering the agreed-upon projects. If the latter is unfeasible, everyone's got a problem. On the other hand, if operations limits sales in every regard, it will slow down the company's growth in significant ways. So which comes first: sales with its long-term focus or operations with its 'live-in-the-now' motto?

At VI Company, we've determined that sales should be leading. Also, we avoid the term 'battle' and consider it a close collaboration. After all, we aim to achieve the same goal: help our clients and expand our company.

Towards the healthiest of all battles

Should we recruit new talents? Work more efficiently? Offer clients a different (more realistic) quotation? Every week, Nick (responsible for sales) and I (responsible for operations) sit down to define our needs and discuss how we can fulfil them. In doing so, we involve our respective teams as much as we can so as to diminish the distance to the work floor.

Of course, it's a learning process. We still have different perspectives, and sometimes, our objectives clash - for example, when Nick wants to sell something that is at odds with my team's schedule. To solve such issues, he involves me in the quotation process. Before he sends them out, we determine what is and isn't feasible. This approach results in extremely accurate quotations, a better collaboration, no incorrect assumptions, a future-proof planning, and - most importantly - happier clients.

In summary, we're not quite there yet, but we've improved a great deal. Continuous improvement is key, and the fact that we're all open to working together means we're headed towards the most healthy possible 'sales-operations battle!'

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