No phrase in the English language is more infuriating to hear at work than, “it slipped through the cracks.”

It’s business-speak for, “that sucks, but it’s not my problem. Get someone else to deal with it.”

Cracks are most common (and most problematic) for tasks that require collaboration between multiple departments.

Different teams have different goals, so a task that’s vital for marketing is a waste of time for sales, and vice-versa. Everyone prioritizes their own needs first.

The unfortunate truth is losing something in the cracks is often a legitimate excuse. Why would anyone shoulder additional responsibility for a task that doesn’t align with their department’s goal? Put more directly, why would anyone volunteer for work that they’re not getting paid for?

It’s much easier to assign blame to your company structure and go about doing the work that you are being paid for than it is to go out on a limb for a project that may not even benefit your personal goals.

The Solution: Business Superglue

The solution to this problem is straightforward — designate a team to think like engineers, map out your sales process, and fill the cracks. Businesses that aspire to grow quickly and efficiently need a business unit entirely dedicated to quarterbacking projects that tie in resources from multiple departments, and seeing them through to completion.

That’s the role that sales operations teams (should) fill.

There’s a whole lot of confusion over who sales operations reports to, what the primary function of the unit is, and how to deploy a sales operations team, because their role is by nature in the cracks.

To be successful, sales ops teams have to straddle the line between departments and influence decision-making from the executive level all the way down to frontline producers.

The mistake a lot of companies make is to silo sales operations as a sub-department of sales, or marketing, or finance. This defeats purpose of having a sales operations function at all, because it limits the team’s ability to eliminate the cracks that hamstring your company’s potential for growth.

Sales operations needs to be both strategic and tactical.

To really understand the role of sales operations, you have to remember that 20 years ago sales operations was relegated to number crunching and report building. They did not have an executive voice, and the insights they uncovered were never implemented unless the sales VP directly advocated for them.

That has changed now — companies recognize that sales operations is only impactful when it has the clout to enact changes and optimize processes across departments.

When sales operations is given influence to successfully optimize processes in other departments, sales becomes more efficient, marketing becomes more productive, and finance stops wanting to strangle both of them for lack of visibility.

In short, when companies put sales operations in place, the cracks disappear. And that is a very good thing for your business.

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