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4 Ways to Bridge the Sales and Operations Gap

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Sales and operations are two sides of the same coin. Both need to fulfill their functions for the business to keep running as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, in many organizations, sales and operations do not communicate as well as the business might hope. Due to that overall lack of communication, many businesses find themselves struggling to operate as a cohesive whole. 

Fortunately, there are strategies businesses can use to bridge the sales and operations gap and improve communication throughout the business.

The Importance of Communications Between Sales and Operations

Sales and operations need to communicate for several key reasons. 

Sales Often Has Early Knowledge of Changes to Consumer Needs

The sales department collaborates closely with customers, which means they have a better idea of what customers need and want. They know:

  • What customers are buying
  • Customers’ key pain points
  • What challenges customers face in getting their items

The sales team may even know ahead of time when customers are likely to start purchasing a particular product more frequently, or when customer demand for a specific product is starting to fall away. The sales team may offer critical insights to the operations department, including likely product lifecycle changes and challenges.

Operations Knows the Behind-the-Scenes Challenges

The sales team cannot provide customers with information that it does not have. For example, suppose that shipping delays have made it difficult to bring in a specific product, or backorders are increasing for certain items, making it more difficult to get their hands on them. The sales team may know only what their computer systems can tell them.

Likewise, operations may know that some items have ended up overstocked, but the sales team cannot help pushing those items, including offering them as much-needed alternatives for customers, if they don’t know about them.

Bridging the Sales and Operations Gap

Fortunately, there are several ways businesses can bridge the gap between sales and operations. 

1. Use a Comprehensive Inventory Management Solution

Your inventory management solution is a key part of managing the needs of your customers. It needs to cover key details, including:

You need both your sales department and your operations department to be able to contribute vital information to those systems so that the entire business can stay on top of the latest information. 

2. Lay Out Clear Expectations

Your team likely has a number of clear business expectations that govern interaction with one another. For example, you may insist that each member of the team treat others with respect and honesty. However, you may need further information to help guide the interactions between sales and operations. 

  • Make sure each department’s role is clear. The sales team should know what is expected, including what information the operations team needs to bring in the right products, and the operations team should know what is expected of it, including what information the sales team needs to meet customer expectations. 
  • Clearly establish what each team should expect from the other. If they don’t know what to expect, they may be frustrated when they don’t get the information they need. 
  • Lay out overall business expectations. Make sure that all the members of your team know the key goals of your business and the strategies you intend to use to get there.

Clearly laying out expectations for all the members of your team is key. Without those clear expectations, team members may struggle to fulfill their roles effectively, at least in part because they may not know what is expected of them in the first place.

3. Create a Communication Plan

To bridge the gap between sales and operations, the sales team and operations team must be able to communicate with one another. That means several key things. 

First, it means that you must have a clear communication plan in place. What strategy should members of the sales and operations team use to communicate with one another? Should they use internal messaging? Email? 

Next, it means you need to create the opportunity for sales and operations to communicate on a regular basis. That means they may need to have meetings with one another, or that they may need to use other strategies to ensure effective communication. 

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4. Have (And Share) the Right Data

To share comprehensive data that can make the key difference for sales and operations, both teams must have that data. Work with your teams to ensure that you have it and that you are prepared to use it effectively. 

  • What information do you need about your products? Carefully consider how information like sales and promotions, product lifecycles, and ordering times can impact supply and demand, then make sure that you’re sharing vital information across organizations.
  • Who has access to that information? Is the sales team more likely to have that key data, or the operations team?
  • How can you share and update that information effectively?

If you aren’t collecting the right data, chances are, you will end up struggling to bridge the gap between sales and operations, not because of the relationship between team members, but because no one has the information needed to advance that conversation. By clearly laying out the data that you need and ensuring that you have the right platform for sharing that data, on the other hand, you can often improve communications. 

Improve Data and Insights with Stock IQ

At Stock IQ, we offer inventory management solutions for businesses that rely on those key insights to drive them. Our software can help you track supplier performance, forecast demand, analyze your available inventory, and even provide greater insight into how sales and promotions are likely to perform for your products. Are you ready to bridge the gap between sales and operations, improve communication, and ensure that you have the right data on hand? Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive solutions and their benefits to your team.

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