Which Department is the #1 Alignment Point for Sales Ops?

Sales Finance Alignment

“90% of Sales Operations jobs require cross-function collaboration with key departments. Finance and Accounting are specifically called out most often, with Marketing a close second.”


CFO, Controller, Finance or Accounting Manager

Finance Cares About:
  • Predictability of quarterly sales results
  • Consistency of quarterly growth in sales
  • Margins that ensure viability of the enterprise
Finance Points of Alignment with Sales:
  • Sales Forecast
  • Order booking process and revenue recognition
  • Compensation plans and commission processing
  • Cost of sales
  • Sales data integrity
  • Headcount planning
3 Questions to ask your Finance partner
  • Can you prioritize, add or delete from the list (above) so that we’re on the same page?
  • What are 2 specific areas you wish that finance and sales had better alignment?
  • Why? Tell me more about that.


Points of Potential Conflict between Sales and Finance
  • Dealing with escalations that should have been filtered out by sales managers
  • Weak sales managers who cannot say no to unreasonable customer requests


Adding Value

Diffuse an escalation and steer the sales team to a mutually acceptable solution. In a contract negotiation impasse, coach the sales person or manager to step  back from the specific concession or non-standard term the customer is requesting and ask the following:

What specific objective is the customer trying to achieve?

What is the specific concern the customer trying to protect against?

More often than not, there is a solution that will overcome the customer objection in a way that is more palatable to your company. Given your understanding of finance, you should be able to explain why it’s important for the sales team to protect the company’s interest in this area. If you don’t know, ask. Collaborate on an approach that will result in a win for the sales team that makes solid business sense. Sales Operations and Finance should be in agreement on how to resolve the most common exceptions in your deal approval cycle. The sales team will appreciate clear boundaries that are put in business context and an expedited, consistent process to handle their escalations.

A sense of urgency is an important personal characteristic in sales. A fast, consistent “No” accompanied by creative alternatives is much better than a long, drawn-out, arbitrary, depends who you ask, sometimes yes.


(Source: ESO Jobs Database)

About Neal Murphy

Neal Murphy is the publisher of Enterprise Sales Operations and former VP of Worldwide Sales & Operations with 20 years experience in enterprise technology.

+Neal Murphy +ESO