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The importance of the back-office in sales organisations

The importance of the back-office in sales organisations

16 May 15:00 by Clare Bryant

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In sales organisations, it is often perceived that the front–office is a more important function than the back-office. For the past ten years I have worked in a back-office capacity within the recruitment field and at times it definitely can feel like all the big bosses are interested in is the sales staff on the phones.......... ka-ching!

I mean, the front office generates the revenue, right? As much as the front-office is crucial to the success of a business, the importance of a good back-office function should not be overlooked. In fact, good luck trying to run a successful business without process and a competent back- office team!

So, what is back office made up of? Essentially it’s anything non-client facing and normally comprises ‘those’ colleagues in accounting, IT, marketing, admin/operations support and HR. The back-office can have such an impact on the wider business that its value should never be belittled. I mean, how many times have you cursed IT for your slow system, or bemoaned poor Sheila in accounts because your contractor hasn’t been paid on time again? A well-oiled back-office is an asset to your business; one of your most valuable resources, and frankly, the glue that holds it all together! At the end of the day, it is your back-office staff who allow your sales staff to focus on their key skillset – recruiting.

A good back-office will often operate under the radar, and the front office will more likely remember the small snags that happen along the way rather than the hundreds of problems that would have occurred if the back office team wasn't there to save the day!

Having faith that your back office teams are quietly supporting the wider business is great, but engaging regularly with them is so important on many levels. Frequent issues can arise when your back-office team don’t feel able to raise issues and concerns with senior staff; they may be too afraid to ask questions or just assume you are too busy and will just end up making assumptions, which may not always be right and can often cost the business money. Taking the time to ensure your back office are well supported, have the right training and the confidence to ask questions and raise concerns will pay dividends.

If you want your business to grow, whether you are a new start-up or an established multinational, it is imperative to invest in your back-office staff. It can be the difference between a slick, successful, sales machine and a disjointed ‘we think we know what we’re doing’ rodeo.

Rewarding back-office staff is equally as important as rewarding sales staff, in fact, it can be even more important and can set you apart as an employer and create an harmonious culture. Back–office staff are normally offered far more limited incentives than the commission-based rewards of the sales teams. I think it is important to give back office a chance to be involved in reward-based incentives, giving them a chance to shine in the business. Being eligible for incentives that are comparable to the front office certainly makes me want to try harder to reach my goals!