Operations and Sales as the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s

In Business Lessons From TV by Jason Cortel

I recently watched the History channel’s Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. I know it has been out for a while but I typically wait for shows to come on Netflix. The History channel did a phenomenal job though I am not surprised as many cable networks are producing really good shows lately. I only wish they would stop with the reality nonsense.

Why blog about a TV show? I got to thinking about the “war” between sales and operations and how similar it is to that of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. Why can’t sales and operations get along? Neither can exist without the other. Early on Randolf McCoy saves Anse Hattfield’s life when Anse is attacked by Union soldiers. Had he not done that the long famed war may not have ever happened.

We are all Johnse’s. Johnse is the Hatfield boy that falls in love with not one but two McCoy sisters. He ends up getting one pregnant but she wants nothing to do with him, so he ends marrying another McCoy sister. He does this primarily thinking that the war would end and the families would have to get along since the two are married. The parallel here is that we all tend to have friends in the opposite department. Sometimes our friend is a sales associate, sometimes with an operations associate and vice versa. However, try as we might, that friendship doesn’t help stop the war.

We both defend our territory. The McCoy’s had Kentucky and the Hatfield’s had West Virginia. We have our Sales Department and our Operations Department. We infiltrate each other’s territory in the form of attending each other’s departmental meetings. We also come together at company functions similar to how the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s come together for their backwoods party. At these interactions the air can be tense but both sides tend to get along.

The governors of Kentucky and West Virginia are like the department heads of sales and operations. In the story the governor of Kentucky acted much more swiftly to the backwoods war. He enacted a posse, enabling them to cross the border to retrieve the Hatfield’s. This is much like the sales department head, quick to act. The West Virginia governor merely sent strong worded telegraphs rather than any authorizing any action. The West Virginia governor decided to fight through the US court system. This is seemingly similar to the operations department head. Their action is more thoughtful and less knee-jerk.

Sales sell the deal and are often rewarded for that, even when the deal falls outside the capabilities of the organization. Operations will bend over backwards to make it work, sometimes easily and sometimes kicking and screaming the whole way. Yet sales is rewarded, mentioned and praised for the deal. This is similar to the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s in that each thought the other were savages and that they were more civil and valid. Each tried to fight the fight through their respective government but in the end the Hatfield’s gave up when they felt their governor was not doing enough to help them.

Younger generations are tired of the war and just want peace. Towards the end we see an interaction between Johnse and the father, Anse. Johnse is talking about being tired of keeping up the war and how it serves no purpose. He wants to go to Oregon where the war doesn’t exist and there is work to be done. What we learn from Johnse is that the farther away from the initial conflict you are the harder it is for you to understand the purpose.

That is where I am with the war between sales and operations. I don’t want to accept it and I see no point in in. When the two groups, who are solely responsible for the organizations success, come together great things can happen. Success isn’t when sales sell the deal for millions of dollars nor is it when operations process the millions of dollars so that it can be billed. After all, if sales didn’t sell the deal, operations would have nothing to process. If operations didn’t process the deal the sell would sit on the books as deferred revenue and the client wouldn’t buy again. Success is when both groups come together to sell and process the work so more can be sold and processed.

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Jason Cortel

Jason Cortel

Call Center Manager
An accomplished sales and marketing operations executive in demand generation, client services and technical support industries. Jason has proven leadership, strategic planning, and problem solving skills. He is recognized for having the ability to develop client-focused organizational cultures resulting in significantly higher customer satisfaction and retention.
Jason CortelOperations and Sales as the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s