In his SaaSiest 2023 presentation, “Creating a High-Impact RevOps Team to Maximise Your Growth,” Funnel.io’s VP of RevOps, Tim Hurst, answers some of the common questions about revenue operations (RevOps) – including what it is, when you need it, and how it can positively affect your business – then shares three principles for building a high-impact RevOps team and mistakes to avoid.
- RevOps exists to enable your go-to-market to be more efficient and more effective.
- You’re ready for a RevOps team if 1) you are relying on a few heroes to hit your targets and get the basics of the job done, 2) there’s frustration around answering simple GTM questions or friction between teams, and/or 3) the complexity of your tools, processes, and systems is growing at a faster rate than your ability to keep up.
- A high-impact RevOps team should go beyond the ask. Understand the questions behind each question and focus on activities that continuously and proactively provide value to the business in a repeatable and efficient way.
- Hire people who can go deep in one or two areas of RevOps while also having capabilities across multiple different areas of revenue operations.
- Structure your team by skills rather than company functions so you don’t perpetuate silos that may exist in the business and you can scale and pivot quickly to meet GTM needs.
- Measure the impact of RevOps based on outcomes and contribution to the business rather than arbitrary metrics.
- Stay focused on projects that will yield the highest impact and say no to the others.
- Provide enough context to your team so they are solving the right problems in the optimal way.
- Treat RevOps as a strategic ally in overall business direction and operations.
Why does RevOps exist?
RevOps’ existence is to enable your go-to-market (GTM) to be more efficient and more effective.
- Enable: RevOps must become a partner to your business and work together with all of the GTM teams to make desired improvements.
- GTM: RevOps needs to work with all of the GTM tactics and GTM teams in your business, including marketing, sales, partnerships, customer success, and so forth. It may be different from company to company.
- Efficient: Efficiency applies specifically to the number of actions that RevOps is able to complete in a given day. How long does it take to research a prospect, hand over a deal, or create a contract draft? If we can reduce the time these activities take, then we’re able to get much more done with the same amount of bandwidth.
- Effectiveness: If we have the same number of activities and they take the same amount of time, how can we increase the impact of each activity? Could this be enabling better decisions through data? Or actions that will improve conversion rates and/or reduce handover time?
When you take efficiency and effectiveness and increase the rate and quality of action, you get leverage, which is a new revenue driver for your business where the potentials go above and beyond just working on one of those two.
What can RevOps do?
What RevOps can do will vary from company to company. At Funnel.io, the core focuses are CRM management, sales process forecasting, and revenue analytics. In other companies, RevOps’ focus can include things like deal desk, working with finance, and even commission management. For your company, assess which functions you already have strong capabilities in and where there are gaps you need to fill.
When do you need revenue operations?
There are three key signs that point to a need for a RevOps team.
First, when you are relying on heroes within your revenue teams. If you’ve got about 10 sales and customer success people, and you don’t have a clear process for them to follow, then it’s very likely that you’re relying on heroics to get just the basics of the role done. People will be using their brain power every day just to get deals through the pipeline rather than thinking about and focusing on the prospect outcomes and the customer outcomes. If this is the case, you’ll probably see one or two salespeople really going above and beyond, and you’ll be relying on them quarter after quarter to hit your targets, leaving everybody else behind. This is where a RevOps team can help understand what those best performers are doing, turn that into process and enablement, and then enable the rest of the team to follow suit.
The second big gap is organisational frustration, which comes in two main forms. One form is when it’s difficult to understand and answer simple questions about your go-to-market. One example of this type of frustration is if you want to understand conversion rates or time in the sales cycle, and every single time you ask one of those simple questions, you need to export data into a spreadsheet and do manual analytics to get an answer that different people may even end up disagreeing about. Another example is high friction at handover points between sales and customer success or from marketing to sales, which suggest a gap in expectations and process that a revenue operations team can help with.
Thirdly is complexity complacency. If you don’t have a revenue operations team, somebody’s still doing revenue operations, but they’re doing it on the side. As you scale your processes, tools, and systems, the complexity in those is going to be growing at a faster rate than your business does. At a certain point in time, that complexity and the RevOps-on-the-side behaviour is going to become a limiting factor because the people who are covering the gaps are going to get overwhelmed.
So how do we make sure that our revenue operations team is high impact? There are three key principles.
High-impact RevOps principle 1: Go beyond the ask
As soon as we install a revenue operations team and start to prove the value that revenue operations can have, we start receiving requests from the business. One of the first things people ask for help on is becoming proactive. Often this comes in the form of lead or contact lists or certain reports so that we can do a one-off campaign on a specific segment of customers while avoiding a specific type of churn. From the RevOps point of view, think about flipping this and becoming predictive and instead of doing a one-off report. Look at the key events and behaviors that prospects and customers show that indicate either a buying intention, an adoption risk, or an expansion opportunity, and then deliver those in real-time or near real-time to our reps. Then we can create this continuous value-adding cycle rather than just this one-off deliverable for the same amount of effort.
The next common ask is for data. ‘Get me a report of sales per month or sales by month, by country, by salesperson.’ If you just dive into that report, you are almost always going to get a follow-up question to filter it a different way, add further parameters, or even create something completely different. So the best way to answer these kinds of questions from the RevOps point of view is always to figure out the need behind that question. Get an understanding of what’s leading to that question, and then instead of just waiting for requests for data, look into the data yourself as a revenue operations professional. Identify the key trends and insights so that you can deliver them back to the business and get ahead of those last-minute data requests.
The third way to go beyond the ask is going beyond tools. Look at the systems you already have rather than focusing on all the new tools available. You are never going to get anywhere looking at 8,000 different martech tools at once. If you look at the capabilities in your own system, make sure it’s robust and scalable, and consider how tools integrate and add to the overall setup when adding new functionalities, then you will have a much more robust platform on which to continue building your growth journey.
The fourth way to go beyond the ask is training. It’s very common to request training on a specific process, onboarding training for a new hire, or training on a specific sales or CS behavior that we want to drive. Studies have shown that the effects of training diminish within days, if not weeks, of having a training course. And before you know it, those new behaviors won’t be so new and interesting anymore. People will be on to the next new thing, and the adoption of those will be out the window. Instead, think about ongoing and continuous enablement where we can build these behaviors and process adoption through multiple different channels. Get it live into the reps’ day-to-day in the CRM if possible so they can continuously be reminded of these new behaviors and processes that we want them to follow and get much more adoption that way.
High-impact RevOps principle 2: Hire specialized generalists
You want people who can go deep into one or two areas while also having skills and capabilities across multiple different areas. It’s common to hire a very specific profile of a person for a specific project or task. But then once that project is done, you’re limited by the capabilities of your team. Aim to never be limited by the capabilities of your team.
Three areas you want to have in a revenue operations person are: 1) technical skills, such as working with APIs, CRM, and process design; 2) people skills, such as stakeholder management, training, coaching, and project management; and 3) context-building skills, such as strategic thinking and decision making while being a learning-driven person and detail-oriented.
Underlying all of this, everyone in revenue operations needs to be passionate about problem-solving. At the heart of it, that’s what we do all day, every day.
High-impact RevOps principle 3: Structure by skill
It’s very common to structure a revenue operations team similarly to how you structure your go-to-market teams – sales operations, marketing operations, customer success operations, and so forth. The challenge with this approach is that you may inadvertently perpetuate silos that already exist in your business and end up with the same walls within your revenue operations team.
Be deliberate in structuring your teams based on the skills they’re focused on so you can pivot based on the opportunities in your GTM as they come up. If you need to add more bandwidth in a certain area, you will be able to get more people on it, focus on it, and deliver value more quickly without getting waylaid by silos or handover points.
Measure impact based on outcomes
It’s very difficult to manage a revenue operations team based on metrics, but you can measure the outcomes of revenue operations.
The first guideline is that the revenue operations team should share the goals of the teams that they’re supporting. If you are working with sales and customer success, then you could have a goal around net new revenue over the month or quarter or period. You can then break this down to more specific goals based on specific initiatives you might be working on.
Secondly, a revenue operations team is always working for the net benefit of the business rather than optimizing for any one team in your go-to-market model. Look at the efficiency and the effectiveness across the entire GTM and create a metric such as net new revenue per month per GTM employee. This metric is a lagging indicator but can show that we are doing the right things and overall adding value and contributing to the outcomes of the GTM strategy.
Finally, revenue operations should be focused on project-specific outcomes. RevOps should always be working on the highest impact opportunities in the business. Set expectations on those opportunities and projects and initiatives as to what the outcome should be so as we deliver on those projects, we can then check to see if they had the desired outcome. This is always going to be project-specific and team-specific, but it’s always worth deciding how to measure before deciding what to do.
Mistakes to avoid
There are three common mistakes to watch out for when building out and working with your RevOps team.
Mistake #1: Lack of prioritization
The first mistake is a lack of prioritization, which is an ongoing challenge. There are always hundreds of interesting, high-impact, exciting opportunities that could improve the business. If you try to do all of it at once, you’ve got no chance of success. To make any progress on one thing, you have to leave a hundred things on the table. As a revenue or RevOps leader, we need to agree on focus areas and clear the space so that RevOps can focus on delivering the highest impact projects. We need to accept that other things will not get as much love this month or this quarter.
Mistake #2: Not providing enough context to your revenue operations team
If you are in revenue operations, it’s easy to get caught up in working with leadership to understand their needs, while overlooking the needs of the individuals who have to go through the processes you create and the GTM model that’s been designed. As a RevOps team, you should be working at all levels of a business: spending time with salespeople, with customer success shadowing customer calls, asking questions about why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how long it takes and what clicks annoy them so that we can really build efficiency into the process we create in line with our new GTM tactics.
Mistake #3: Not treating revenue operations as a strategic partner
Sometimes, people see revenue operations as a necessary operating cost, but RevOps can go so much further beyond that to eventually get one of the deepest and broadest understandings of your go-to-market process. As such, your RevOps team may have ideas as to where some of the biggest revenue opportunities lie and where some of the risks or challenges are going to be with new opportunities that leadership identifies. To best enable and empower revenue operations, include them in the room as an advisor and as a partner.
Have a growth mindset
To truly have the highest impact on the business and to maximize your growth, it’s critical for your RevOps team members to have a growth mindset and a holistic and helping approach. Look for people who go out of their way to help others and are always looking for a better way to do things. Those two steps alone will set you on the right track for a high-impact RevOps team.
Want to hear these tips from Tim himself? Go to Saaiest TV to see his full presentation.