Can This Simple Question Improve Your Sales Operation?

July 14, 2016

This post was contributed by MindBrew VP of Publishing Operations Eric Boles and originally appeared on

A recent SellingBrew Playbook training session, “Taking Your Sales Operation to the Next Level”. was quite well attended. And judging from the questions that came in, lots of companies are keen to put some of the best practices that were discussed into good use.

Based on SellingBrew’s latest research, the session discussed what some of the leading sales operations are doing to become more strategic. The presenter, Rafe VanDenBerg, exposed the critical differences these companies have compared to their peers as well as the actions you can take to step up your own game.

Naturally, lots of differences were covered in the session, but I was struck by one example. One of the companies that our research team spoke with explained how they started to adopt a different mindset about what sales operations should be focused on. Essentially, they gave themselves a new organizational identity. At first blush this seemed an impossible task and certainly nothing that could be presented as a simple action that other companies could adopt. But as was explained in the session, giving themselves a new identity started with a simple diagnostic question:

“Are we working on the business of sales or in the business of sales?”

Seems like semantics, right? And of course, this concept isn’t new. You might have heard something similar from Michael Gerber, a noted business author who talks about this concept quite a bit. Nonetheless, it’s a very powerful idea that can start a mindset shift in an organization.

Organizations that work in the business tend to be very tactically focused. Think of that organization like a spark plug and the whole company as an engine. If the spark plug does its job each time it’s expected to, the whole engine keeps running smoothly. But despite the important role it plays in the engine, there’s not much the spark plug can do to make the engine noticeably faster or more efficient.

Organizations that work on the business see things very differently. They don’t see themselves as a piece of the engine—they see themselves as the mechanic. They’re not mired down in a set of tactical tasks. Instead, they’re looking at the whole system for areas where little improvements can make a big difference.

Great way to start a mindset shift in a sales operation, don’t you think? And this was just one of the many great insights revealed in the training session.

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