Revenue Operations | 9 minute read

Revenue Operations: How To Win & The Rise of the Strategic Technician

RevOps is the "Moneyball" of business
Posted by Matt Bolian on June 24, 2021
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Article Highlights:

  • Revenue Operations IS NOT eliminating silos/barriers between sales, marketing and customer success
  • Revenue Operations is the recognition of a new business reality that requires a new skill set
  • The Digital Age and Proliferation of Tools increased the availability and difficulty of managing data
  • The Revenue Ops Professional - the strategic thinker and tactical integrator - was born from the need to collect, synthesize, and interpret data to make decisions. 

“Can fish swim, and do birds fly?” 

“Does peanut butter pair well with jelly?”

Right alongside these painfully obvious questions stands one with just as clear of an answer. 

“Should you be implementing a Revenue Operations strategy and investing in a RevOps function?”

The answer: Yes. Yes, you should be.

Let’s dive into why. 

Revenue Operations: Recapturing the Meaning from Google. 

If you are like me, you started researching Revenue Operations by: 

  • Visiting your BFF Google
  • Typing in some version of “Revenue Operations”
  • Opening multiple tabs
  • Reading articles (skipping those that made you fill out a form - SIDE NOTE:  Please stop making Ebooks when you just repurpose content and provide nothing helpful #PRETTYPLS). 

And when you did that, you found yourself more lost than when you started. And that is because the word has entered Search Engine Optimization Purgatory.

Or in other words: 

  • Google Searches for a word increase
  • Companies want to rank for the word to “drive leads” 
  • Companies write articles about “revenue operations” by doing the below:
    1. A Content Strategist researches all things revenue operations
    2. They read the same content you do on the first two pages of Google
    3. The same content is reworded and repeats the same thing over and over and over again
  • Company with the best graphics and best writer wins (i.e. Puts lipstick on their pig and wins first prize at the county fair.)

Net result = the word loses its meaning (Side Note: Lots has been written about why Marketing ruins everything…)

Because of this very sad reality (if I didn’t believe in a better future, I wouldn’t be writing this - just saying), here are the definitions of Revenue Operations you read (And yes - they are crap):

Definition 1: A comprehensive method for aligning organizational silos with connected strategies, processes, workflows, data, analysis, and technology.

OR

Definition 2: An all-in-one, fully-comprehensive convergence method that aligns sales, marketing, and customer service and exists as the surest way to scale a company and drive revenue growth. 

ORR

Definition 3: A business function that drives full-funnel accountability through the alignment of Marketing, Sales, and Service across your organization’s process, platform, and people

ORRR

Definition 4: The combining and aligning of sales and revenue goals throughout marketing, sales, and success teams within a business.

Ok. I’ll stop the pain.

FACT: The above definitions are meaningless gobbly goop. They say so much, they say nothing at all.

Let me explain. Here’s a hypothetical.

You walk into the meeting with your boss and say, “We need to invest in Revenue Operations.” Impressed with yourself, you state with practiced confidence, “We can finally [Enter poopoo definition of RevOps].”  She raises her eyebrows and chuckles, “So how does it help me grow the business again.” Silence. You wait for your boss to say something else. 

She leans forward in her chair, looks you in the eyes without a smile on her face, “of course I want to align sales, marketing, and customer success journeys. In fact, that is why we are a successful company. So what is your point - WE ALREADY DO REVENUE OPERATIONS.”

🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯

“But, but, but this [ENTER NEWEST, HOTTEST SAAS COMPANY] will help us [Close more Deals, Get more Meetings, etc.].” End of story.

Here is the cold hard truth. Revenue is the newest word in the revenue professional jargon tool kit (sits comfortably with - full-funnel, growth marketing, marketing and sales alignment, account-based marketing, blah, blah, blah). 

Revenue Operations IS NOT a methodology, a method, or a way to decrease departmental silos. It’s not a technology or the administration of those tools. It is not a process. It’s not something you choose to do or not do. It’s not a choice at all.

What is it then?

Revenue Operations is a new business reality. 

 

Revenue Operations: The New Playing Field

Revenue Operations is the new field on which we all play. It’s a dance we are all performing - for better or worse.  Some look like awkward 8th graders at a middle school dance. Others are in the finals for “Dancing with the stars.” 

Those that perform well on the revenue operation stage are those that actively recognize (via time, investment, and words)

  • Data is the single most important asset of a business 
  • Organizational alignment requires specific processes that create and collect data
  • Resources that actively address revenue friction in marketing, sales, and customer success need to be hired early. 

How well are you dancing???

 

Revenue Operations is best compared to Sabernomics (the study of baseball data). The most famous case for Sabernomics is the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. 

In the true story, instead of following the conventional wisdom, which pays millions for good players based on their specialized scouts’ experience, Beane used statistics like On Base and Slugging Percentage to find undervalued players and recruit players. “If we win, on our budget, with this team, we’ll have changed the game. And that’s what I want, I want it to mean something,” Beane said.

By implementing that strategy, Beane helped the Oakland A’s achieve a 20-game winning streak in 2002, with only about $41 million for salaries. The team even competed against larger teams like the Yankees, who spent over $125 million in payroll that same season.

He changed baseball forever. Now every team has a Data Analytics department that drives decisions.

Here’s a quote from the book Moneyball that helps drive home this point: 

“The math works,” Beane says. “Over the course of a season, there’s some predictability to baseball. When you play 162 games, you eliminate a lot of random outcomes. There’s so much data that you can predict individual players’ performances and also the odds that certain strategies will pay off.”

Marketing, sales, and customer success functions do the same thing over and over again. How are you enabling processes that create data and then making decisions informed by that data?

“Doing Revenue Operations” really just means choosing to acknowledge the importance of data and then doing something about it. 

 

Revenue Operations: The Creation Story

So how did we get here? There are two main trends and two effects. I’ll keep these short and sweet.

The Trends

Digital Age - Buyer journey becomes predominantly digital 

You have probably heard this stat before already (and it’s worth repeating). Over 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales teams (SiriusDecisions).

That means people are learning, researching, and making decisions without talking to a person. This reflects not just how we buy, but how we live - cellphones, computers, emails, social media, Netflix, etc. The way we live and buy has changed forever - more screen time and less face to face communication.

Tool Proliferation - Increase in tool increased amount of data

In 2011, there were 150 Sales and Marketing Tools. In 2020, there were over 8000. 🤯🤯 So MANY Tools. These tools and tech stack additions reflect a change in behaviors for the customer, but also for internal operations. Tools make us more efficient and have the potential to do more with less. Our transition to digital life unlocked the Tool Gold Rush (and it's still underway). 

Marketing Technology Landscape

Why such an increase in tools? 

The Effects

Weaponization of data: Data is the competitive differentiation

Our digital lives - both personally and professionally - along with the adoption and increase of tools, have created mountains of data. We created the data beast.

Let’s be clear - the importance of data didn’t change. It’s always been important. The difficulty to create GOOD data increased by several magnitudes. Thus, the ability to wrangle and tame data has become the currency of AWESOME. This process - creating, interpreting, and activating data produced a new breed of professionals.

And Queue the drum roll……..

The Rise of the Strategic Tactician: Data operations becomes a strategic asset

FINALLY, we arrived. This is why we are talking about revenue operations and how the word became popularized. 

It’s when the professional was born - the RevOps Leader. The unicorn that can do both strategy and tactics.

Professionals in revenue operations roles have: 

  1. The ability to understand and create strategic go to marketing plans
  2. The processes that will create good data for sales, marketing, and customer success teams
  3. The tools that enable those process to create data and optimize processes
  4. The technical skills and wherewithal to connect divergent systems across department silos
  5. The data knowledge and understanding to visualize data for executives

It took time. There is no handbook for revenue operations responsibilities. Many people didn’t even know they were “doing Revenue Operations.” They were just “making things happen.” Running from fire to fire, making incremental changes. Until one day, they realize they created something beautiful. 

The Ops person gained a seat at the proverbial table. The RevOps Era started.

Ops Communities emerged - led by Salesforce (another story worth telling - how Salesforce won over the Revenue Operations Team). Communities unofficially taught the “skill” and provided their unique revops software.  They became the secret bat-caves of the ops super heroes. 

5 top Revenue Operations Communities

  1. SalesForce Trailhead
  2. Wizard of Ops
  3. HubSpot RevOps Community
  4. RevGenius
  5. SalesHacker

Influencers emerged - People started posting about “RevOps.” Here is a list of the top 36 RevOps. (Why did they pick the number 36?? No clue, maybe it was their high school soccer number…)

RevOp Specific Recruiters emerged - You know it is a profession when people make a living ONLY recruiting a specific skill set. See companies like RevSearch and HubSearch.

Patterns emerged - operations professionals realized there are RevOps best practices; that creating revenue data structures for marketing operations and sales operations is similar from one company to another; that a good revenue ops person could be a better hire than a “revenue generating” sales rep....Yes I said it. Operations, or playing “revenue operations” better, became a competitive advantage.

There are RevOps best practices that transcend a company's “unique” sales and marketing motion and hold true in 95% of situations. Don’t believe me?!?!?! I thought you trusted me by now. Oh well, see the list below just in case 😉

 

Examples of Revenue Operations Best Practices (Yes there are lots more - like 100s more). They are like lego pieces in the revenue operations structure that can be used to create revenue machines. 

  1. Deal Velocity: Time stamp all actions in a CRM

  2. Sales Forecasting / Accountability: Auto rollover close dates. 

  3. Pipeline Health: Track the number of times opportunity close date has been changed

  4. Accountability: Create Deals scores that require little sales input

  5. Deal Duration: Add workflows that automate - Closed Lost = Close Date

  6. Top of Funnel: Define all lead status  (New, Working, Qualified, Recycle, Rejected, Not ICP today). 

  7. Sales Stage = Buyer Journey:  Opportunity stages should reflect the buyer, not the selling motion.

  8. Renewal + Forecasting: Automate Renewal tracking

  9. Conversion metrics: Should create a common definition of Prospect/MQL/SQL/SAL.

  10. Quick Pivots: ID and track all lead sources - invest in those that are converting at higher rates; de-invest in others. Pivot.

 

RevOps: Going Forward

Bringing this back to Moneyball. 

Beane was challenged by his scout in a scene. “Billy, you got a kid in there that’s got a degree in Economics from Yale. You got a scout here with 29 years of baseball experience. You’re listening to the wrong one.” 

Beane listened to the data and won. 

 

You need someone skilled in the game of Revenue Operations. Why?

Because you are playing the game of Revenue Operations whether you want to or not. I recommend you get someone who knows the game before your competition does.

Losing isn’t fun. 

How is Your RevOps Game?

We don’t stop at good enough, we stop at winning. RevPartners offers revenue operations as a service to you. We design, build, and execute a revenue process to support a holistic go to market strategy. 

Start Winning
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