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Sales Operations, Serving Sales People—An Interview With Tony Walker

by David Brock on May 20th, 2013

Over the next several months, I’ll be interviewing a number of Sales Operations and Sales Enablement executives.  I believe these roles are critical in understanding and driving sales performance.

Field sales managers focus on their teams.  They want to maximize the performance of each person on the team and of the team, as a whole.  They focus on the numbers–is the team performing at a level to achieve their numbers?

Sales Operations and Sales Enablement executives view the organization through a different lens.  They have the opportunity to look at the sales organization as a whole.  They look at all the teams, they interface with marketing and other parts of the organization.  Where the field sales executive is focused on the customer and her team, the Sales Operations executive has a broader view of how all the pieces/parts fit together.

Some months ago, I started talking to a number of different Sales Operations executives, getting their views about the future of sales performance.  I started recording the conversations–less in a formal interview sense, but more to allow you to “eavesdrop” on a thoughtful discussion.  So these interviews weren’t really done for the  “audience,” but more just as an opportunity to learn and explore.  Consequently, you will notice some “rough spots,” in the discussion.

I’m deeply honored to have Tony Walker, Vice President of Global Sales Operations for Enterasys kick off this series.  Enterasys is a fascinating organization.  Enterasys is truly a social business–a business that is driven by the customer.  The commitment to the customer dominates every conversation you have with anyone at Enterasys.

Tony demonstrates the intensity of focus on the customer in everything he says.  But his customer is not just the end customer.  His customers are the sales people, managers, and teams.  His customers are marketing, customer service, and the other Enterasys organizations that support sales.  About a month ago, Tony and I had a conversation about Sales Operations, it’s role in the organization, and things that Tony sees as important in helping sales teams perform at their best.

I hope you enjoy “listening in” to our conversation as much as I enjoyed having it.  Finally, to Tony, thanks so much for taking the time to speak!


  1. Thanks David and Tony for the chance to listen in to a great conversation!

    I was very interested to hear how the role of Sales Operations works within Enterasys. I heard the clear emphasis on keeping the sales team free to sell. Great summary: “Sales operations are the voice of the sales team to the organisation and of the organisation to the sales team”.

    I was particularly interested in the comments on the importance of the compensation plan and the comments around salespeople “gaming” the design of the plan.

    The role that Chatter is playing within Enterasys is clearly very significant, especially as it extends to the channel partners.

    Lots of other thought provoking exchanges.

    Thanks again both!

    • Peter–the real thanks goes to Tony and his brilliant perspectives. Enterasys is an amazing organization in the way everyone “lives” customer centricity.

  2. Mary Lewitzke permalink

    Great conversation with very interesting insight into exactly what Sales Operations is and the importance of this role in any organization. As the liaison between field sales and most every other aspect of a business I agree that it is important also to get sales ops to the table when looking at long term strategy from both upstream and downstream perspectives. I was also very interested in Tony’s discussion about making sure the VC plan reflects (and thereby rewards) what the business wants the sales people to do; sounds so simple and logical but too often it doesn’t end up that way.
    Thanks for letting us listen in!

    • Thanks Mary, it’s great to have Tony kick off this series, we have some more exciting people lined up.

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