Don’t be misled, Revenue Operations, or RevOps, is not just the latest buzzword in 2023, it’s here to stay. With more companies being forced to decrease operating budgets and headcount, while concurrently dealing with slower buying cycles and increased customer churn, RevOps has become a prime lever for driving productivity.
It’s no surprise that this year, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) has topped the list of the 25 fastest-growing jobs in the US, as reported by Fast Company, using data from LinkedIn.
The RevOps (R)evolution
Let’s get definitions out of the way first.
RevOps is the integration and alignment of marketing, sales, and customer service to improve the customer experience and align revenue. The goal of RevOps is to make revenue and growth more predictable. More practically, we find RevOps is what companies realize they need when things don’t work like they used to. As buyer journeys become more complex, visibility into a company’s GTM (Go To Market) process becomes murkier. Finger-pointing becomes rampant – Sales complains about the poor quality of MQLs they receive, while marketing blames low conversions on inefficiencies in the sales team. Neither trusts the other’s data. Customer experience is inconsistent and disjointed across the life cycle.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Then read on, as RevOps might be in your future.
RevOps is a relatively new concept that has emerged in response to the changing nature of B2B Sales and Marketing. However, the idea of aligning operations teams around a shared goal of revenue growth has been around for decades. Its roots can be traced back to the days of Xerox in the 1970s, when then-CEO Niel Rakcham established a sales operations group that focused primarily on analyzing data to provide better insights and direction to sales reps. In those days, Sales ops primarily functioned as a small team of number crunchers who executed financial analyses, reporting, and sales forecasting.
With the advent of marketing ops in the early 2000s and the subsequent explosion of enablement technologies and data analytics in the 2010s, RevOps has blossomed to become the de facto solution to the problem of siloed departments with disparate missions, disconnected customer experiences, and disjointed analytics.
Setting up a RevOps organization
Here’s the good news if you are considering implementing a RevOps function at your organization today: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Over the past few years, a roadmap has been established to setting up a RevOps function across mid-market companies. While complexity varies*, the basic steps almost always include the following:
*In our extensive experience working across both enterprise and mid-market companies, we find that a roadmap to establishing a revenue operations organization varies considerably based on Go-To-Market (GTM) motion. We might recommend a sophisticated deployment model for, say a SaaS company with Product Led Growth (PLG) strategy, while a more basic model will suffice for a similarly-sized company with a more traditional top-down selling motion.
Defining aligned goals and objectives for RevOps
A successful organizational deployment begins with the alignment of expectations in the C-suite, especially between Finance, Operations, Sales, and Marketing. Conversely, it is a major red flag when teams cannot agree on goals, these silos need to be addressed before implementing RevOps. To start, we recommend sticking to the more by-the-text-book set of goals and objectives for a revenue operations team. For example:
- Increase revenue growth: This is the primary goal of the revenue operations function. The revenue operations team can achieve this goal by optimizing the sales process, improving customer retention, and increasing customer lifetime value (CLTV).
- Reduce customer acquisition cost (CAC): The revenue operations team can achieve this goal by optimizing the marketing process and improving lead generation.
- Reduce sales cycle length: The revenue operations team can achieve this goal by optimizing the sales process and reducing the time it takes to close deals.
- Improve data quality: The revenue operations team can achieve this goal by implementing processes and workflows for data collection, analysis, and reporting.
- Improve cross-functional collaboration: The revenue operations team can achieve this goal by working closely with other departments within the company to ensure that everyone is aligned with the company’s overall strategy.
Define a structure for a RevOps team
Setting responsibilities and reporting lines are an important next step following the setting of goals. We encounter a range of organizational structures of a revenue operations team with our clients, driven by their maturity, size, and existing team footprint. However, there are some common roles to be included in your revenue operations team:
- Revenue Operations Manager: This person is responsible for overseeing the entire revenue operations function and ensuring that it is aligned with the company’s overall strategy.
- Sales Operations Manager: This person is responsible for managing the sales operations function within the revenue operations team. This includes managing the sales pipeline, forecasting, and reporting.
- Marketing Operations Manager: This person is responsible for managing the marketing operations function within the revenue operations team. This includes managing marketing automation systems, lead generation, and reporting.
- Customer Success Operations Manager: This person is responsible for managing the customer success operations function within the revenue operations team. This includes managing customer data, customer feedback, and reporting.
- Business Systems Analyst: This person is responsible for analyzing business processes and identifying opportunities for improvement. They also work with other members of the revenue operations team to implement technology solutions that support the revenue operations function.
The team reports to a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or a Chief Operating Officer (COO) for smaller organizations.
Establish processes and workflows for data collection, analysis, and reporting
This is where the heavy lifting comes in. The RevOps model requires the collection of data from different sources, and determining how it will be analyzed and reported on. You also need to establish workflows for how data will be shared between different departments:
- Identify the data sources that will be used to collect data for the revenue operations function. This might include your CRM system, marketing automation system, and financial systems.
- Define the data fields that will be collected from each data source. This might include fields such as customer name, customer email address, deal size, and deal stage.
- Develop a plan for how data will be collected from each data source. This might include setting up integrations between different systems or developing custom scripts to extract data.
- Develop a plan for how data will be analyzed and reported on. This might include developing custom reports or dashboards that provide insights into key metrics such as revenue growth and customer acquisition cost (CAC).
- Establish workflows for how data will be shared between different departments within your company. This might include setting up regular meetings between the revenue operations team and other departments to review key metrics and discuss opportunities for improvement.
Leverage Technology to support RevOps
This includes selecting and implementing technology solutions that will support data collection, analysis, and reporting. Over time, we find tech stacks become complex and include customer relationship management (CRM) software, marketing automation software, and business intelligence (BI) tools. A common mid-market configuration is Hubspot for Marketing and Salesforce for Sales CRM, tied in with various sales enablements like Gong or Salesloft, and various helpdesk ticketing systems with live chat.
The technical challenge in aligning these systems together is not to be underestimated, and we recommend engaging outside experts to help. The work includes:
- Identify the key pain points in your revenue operations process. This might include issues with data quality, inefficient workflows, or a lack of visibility into key metrics.
- Research technology solutions that can help address these pain points, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered data analytics that is revolutionizing this space.
- Develop a plan for how technology solutions will be implemented. This might include setting up integrations between different systems or developing custom scripts to extract data.
- Train your team on how to use these technology solutions effectively. This might include developing training materials or providing one-on-one coaching.
The RevOps Journey
Treat your RevOps transformation as a journey. We have had the opportunity to work with dozens of clients going through this journey over the years. They typically begin with unstructured sales and marketing teams operationalizing their own functions. As organizations mature, they pull in an enablement function with processes, tools, and metrics that span across the revenue organization. They are becoming less fragmented. Finally, there is a shift from tactical to strategic thinking in RevOps which is where companies see the most benefit. RevOps moves from fulfilling service tickets to getting a seat at the table in driving company strategy.
A Realistic View
Very often, as consultants we are brought in to either implement or fix a technology solution that operations leaders see as critical in reaching their revenue objectives. We help them design and implement workflows, clean up data, and drive better visibility by establishing metrics and visual dashboards. We tell them this is the “easy” part, as we know this is only the beginning. The challenges lie ahead in breaking down internal resistance to change, rebuilding trust in the data, and getting buy-in from senior leaders to allocate adequate resources (personnel, technology, training) to make the initiative successful.
To avoid these roadblocks, it is important to work on getting executive buy-in for the journey early in the process. We have also learned that the pace of technology change has to be metered based on user adoption: stuffing complex processes and technology down the throats of salespeople rarely works well. Clunky deployments can cause frustration across the organization; moving too fast can, in fact, set you back.
Getting an ROI out of this technology investment requires the business to think long-term, with a committed investment in tools and training through the years.
Ready to learn more?
Our team would love to chat more about how to do more – and get more and better results – with less, and about the emergence of RevOps as a key driver of productivity in 2023.
If this topic has you thinking, be sure to connect with us! Reach us via email at email@example.com, or give us a call (610) 994-1139.
This blog was penned by Ajay Joshi, ECS Sales Operations Partner. Be sure to connect with Ajay on LinkedIn.