Do you ever wonder about your operations and sales departments?
This morning a client I’m coaching commented in an offhand manner, “Why are my sales people and operations people always arguing“?
I stopped him right there, after all we were working on a different issue at the time. However, I said “Aren’t they supposed to be arguing with each other“?
That’s right. There is supposed to be tension between these two. In fact, I would put both department managers in offices next to each other and make sure they argue with each other.
Okay, “argue” might be too strong a word. There should be tension between the two, and regular communication between the two areas is necessary for success. The better expression would be “productive conflict.” You want it to happen regularly. Why?
Sales people will naturally want to sell more than operations can currently deliver. Operations will naturally want to avoid the risk that innovation brings. By having regular productive conflict, the two sides will push the other to be better at what they do.
A long time ago, I heard a speaker say something on this topic that I’ve always remembered. “You can’t have your sales people selling snowblowers when your company makes lawnmowers. Conversely, don’t you want your company to learn how to make snowblowers in addition to lawnmowers if they have that ability and the opportunity exists.”
The sales team has to understand the limitations of operations and constantly push them to expand those limitations. The operations team needs to understand the demands customers put on the sales people.