While there will always be fires to put out and short-term issues to tend to at any company, it's essential to take a step back and focus on the bigger picture. This means looking to your business operations and creating a strategy that primes your B2B organization for success.
Entrepreneur, angel investor, and former host of the reality show, "The Profit," Marcus Lemonis, is a seasoned pro when it comes to spotting marketing opportunities and avoiding business failure.
He also coined "the 3 P's of success":
According to Lemonis, the 3 P's are fundamentals that every business needs to get right. If those fundamentals aren't in place, success will be an uphill struggle.
Building a robust B2B operation is all about getting those three P's in the right place.
Business Operations Definition
Business operations are everything that happens within your company to keep it running and profitable.
In most business plans, a specific section is devoted to business operations needed to make an organization function. These include:
While your business model is a description of what you want to achieve, business operations are the practical execution.
Even if you already have processes in place, for the best results in your B2B company you need to be intentional about your ops and create a clear strategy that's regularly optimized.
Functions of B2B Business Operations
Although the ins-and-outs of business operations can differ substantially depending on the industry and size of a company, most of these functions remain relevant to any type of business:
- Maintaining efficient internal communications and striving for alignment around goals and how to reach them
- Providing senior-level managers with the information and coaching they need
- Continuously auditing and optimizing business processes
- Managing budget and planning processes
- Monitoring third-party cooperation and software integrations
If you hire a Head of Operations, these are all focus points they will need to stay on top of and continuously improve. Otherwise, these tasks can be divided between the most relevant people on your team.
The Different Roles of B2B Business Operations
While a Head of Operations is responsible for business operations at the highest level, it's common to appoint mid-level roles within different departments of an organization.
Sales Ops entail all the business activities and processes that help your company's sales run efficiently and in line with your business objectives.
Marketing Ops is a role or team focused on enabling the marketing team to operate and scale efficiently with the right people, processes, and tech.
Support Ops, like the other ops roles, works behind the scenes to provide the tools, integrations, and processes that enable support teams to succeed.
Running the operations of a B2B company can be challenging, and requires the ability to analyze and evaluate processes and performance on both a macro and micro level.
To help you implement the most impactful business ops strategy for your B2B company, read on for eight pointers for success.
8 Best Practices for Successful B2B Business Operations
1. Communicate clearly — and choose the right tech.
Everything starts and ends with good internal communications. In fact, a recent study found that 89% of respondents believe effective communication is incredibly important in a business setting.
Establishing the right processes for communication is a crucial key to business success, and since team members today mostly rely on technology to communicate and collaborate, choosing the right communication tools is equally important.
2. Define team expectations and accountability.
Clear expectations for each team member, as well as clear accountability, are foundational for success. Regularly setting tasks, deadlines, and planning together is an integral part of business operations, as well as following up on and evaluating results and performance.
3. Document and automate processes.
Documenting all processes and sharing them with the organization saves a lot of time and effort. Documentation prevents the need to "reinvent the wheel" again and again and provides a common ground and point of reference that can then be further developed.
What's even better is when your documentation and data are readily available to your team members. Integrating your different tools and syncing your contacts will make workflows run smoother and with less effort.
4. Integrate your tech stack.
An important part of business operations is maintaining a helicopter perspective on technical solutions and platforms. By choosing tools that are optimal for your needs, avoiding redundant functionalities, and integrating your different systems, you set your various departments up for success.
5. Strive for transparency.
It's essential to have cross-functional collaboration that breaks down silos and aligns departments around common goals. Alternatively, failure to create transparency results in redundant work, misaligned priorities, and missed opportunities for collaboration, so getting this one right is worth the effort.
Some effective tactics for any B2B business include regular cross-departmental meetings and the right communication tools to facilitate collaboration.
6. Base decisions on data.
Because business operations involve various stakeholders and agendas, it's vital to maintain an objective view of how efficient your operations are and to agree on how to define and measure success.
When creating your B2B ops strategy, take time to assess how well you are:
- Running a data-driven operation with high data integrity and reliability
- Basing decisions on facts and figures rather than hunches and gut feel
- Creating regular reports and sharing them with all stakeholders
7. Collect feedback from teams.
An efficient feedback loop where team members can deliver their insights and comments to management is invaluable. Regular surveys and a strong team culture that invites feedback are great places to start.
Of course, only collecting the feedback is not enough; it needs to be followed up and acted on as well. How can you ensure this in your B2B ops strategy?
8. Consider hiring a Head of Operations.
Ownership of your B2B ops is crucial, and it pays to have someone accountable for maintaining the smooth running of your organization.
If you can, hire a person who owns your business ops and is responsible for continuously evaluating and optimizing the three P's: processes, people, and product.
Agree on metrics to measure success, and follow up regularly to make sure you're maximizing your business's potential. You can also think about how your ops strategy trickles down to each department for the most impact and productivity.
How will you strengthen your B2B operations?
Every business is different, and you need to look at your specific company to evaluate what your needs are. But if you check all these eight boxes, you should be well on your way to a best-in-class B2B business operation.